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

Featured

William Henry Powell’s painting of the Discovery of the Mississippi by De Soto shows Spanish conquistador and explorer Hernando De Soto (1500–1542), riding a white horse and dressed in Renaissance finery, arriving at the Mississippi River at a point below Natchez on May 8, 1541.
William Henry Powell’s dramatic and brilliantly colored canvas was the last of...

Featured

Prohibited Items at the U.S. Capitol Building
In order to ensure the safety of visitors and staff and to preserve the...

Featured

Stewardship
The Architect of the Capitol is committed to the preservation and stewardship...

Featured

U.S. Marine Band - Wednesday and some Thursday Evenings
U.S. Marine Band - Wednesday and some Thursday Evenings - The 2014 series of...

Oglethorpe and the Indians

Oglethorpe and the Indians
Filippo Costaggini
Artist

Frieze of American History
Rotunda
U.S. Capitol

Overview 

James Oglethorpe, who founded the colony of Georgia and became its first governor, is shown making peace on the site of Savannah with the chief of the Muskogee Indians, who presents a buffalo skin decorated with an eagle, symbol of love and protection. (1732)

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