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Snapshot of a crowd of people on a guided tour through the Rotunda of the U.S. Capitol
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AOC members holding the Historic Preservation Award that they received
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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