Featured

Black and white portrait of Constantino Brumidi holding an easel and paintbrushes.
Constantino Brumidi (1805–1880) is best known for the murals he painted in the...

Featured

The Summerhouse on the Capitol Grounds surrounded by pink azalea flowers.
A few ideas to help you in planning a visit to Capitol Hill.

Featured

Painted Portrait of Benjamin Henry Latrobe
Benjamin Henry Latrobe was hired by President Jefferson in 1803 to fill the...

Featured

Warehouses in Fort Meade, Maryland store items such as statues that were once displayed on the East Front of the Capitol.
The Architect of the Capitol is responsible for managing all of the buildings...

Explore Capitol Hill

Pizarro Going to Peru

Overview 

The Spanish conqueror of Peru, Francisco Pizarro, leading his horse, pushes through the jungle searching for El Dorado, the mythical land of gold. Pizarro eventually captured the Inca capital, Cuzco. (1533)

Constantino Brumidi
Artist

Frieze of American History
Rotunda
U.S. Capitol

Pizarro Going to Peru

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