Serving Congress and the Supreme Court, preserving America's Capitol, and inspiring memorable experiences

Featured

National Statuary Hall
National Statuary Hall, also known as the Old Hall of the House, is the large...

Featured

Visitor Hours for the Buildings on Capitol Hill
Visitor Hours for the Buildings on Capitol Hill.

Featured

The AOC maintains the grounds of the U.S. Capitol
The roles and responsibilities of the Architect of the Capitol cover an...

Featured

AOC employees plan renovations to Representative Tammy Duckworth's Office
A team of tradecrafts experts at the AOC transform an office into a completely...

Landing of the Pilgrims

Landing of the Pilgrims
Constantino Brumidi
Artist

Frieze of American History
Rotunda
U.S. Capitol

Overview 

A group of Pilgrims, led by William Brewster, is shown giving thanks for their safe voyage after their arrival in Plymouth, Massachusetts. (1620)

The frieze in the Rotunda of the United States Capitol contains a painted panorama depicting significant events in American history. Thomas U. Walter's 1859 cross-section drawing of the new dome (constructed 1855-1863) shows a recessed belt atop the Rotunda walls with relief sculpture. Eventually it was painted in true fresco, a difficult and exacting technique in which the pigments are applied directly onto wet plaster. As the plaster cures the colors become part of the wall. Consequently, each section of plaster must be painted the day it is laid. The frieze is painted in grisaille, a monochrome of whites and browns that resembles sculpture. It measures 8 feet 4 inches in height and approximately 300 feet in circumference. It starts 58 feet above the floor.

The frieze is the work of three artists, Constantino Brumidi, Filippo Costaggini and Allyn Cox. It was designed by Brumidi, an Italian artist who studied in Rome before emigrating to America. Brumidi created a sketch for the Rotunda frieze in 1859 but was not authorized to begin work until 1877.

Last Updated: September 30, 2013