Stewards of the iconic buildings and grounds of Capitol Hill since 1793.

Featured

The U.S. Capitol Rotunda is a large, domed, circular room located 96 feet in diameter and 180 feet in height located in the center of the United States Capitol on the second floor.
The U.S. Capitol Rotunda is a large, domed, circular room 96 feet in diameter...

Featured

Snapshot of a crowd of people on a guided tour through the Rotunda of the U.S. Capitol
Official Tours of the U.S. Capitol Building are offered Monday through...

Featured

AOC members holding the Historic Preservation Award that they received
The Architect of the Capitol strives to perform all work at a high level of...

Featured

Statue of John L. “Jack” Swigert, Jr.
Visitors to the Capitol are often drawn to the "big ticket" items,...

Naval Gun Crew in the Spanish-American War

Naval Gun Crew in the Spanish-American War
Allyn Cox
Artist

Frieze of American History
Rotunda
U.S. Capitol

Overview 

A gun crew prepares to fire a Naval gun in one of the two great naval battles of the Spanish-American War. In the course of helping Cuba win independence from Spain the United States became prominent in world affairs by acquiring a colonial empire (Puerto Rico and Guam) and establishing naval prominence in both oceans. (1898)

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