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Apotheosis of Democracy Pediment

Apotheosis of Democracy Sculptural Pediment
Paul Wayland Bartlett
Artist

Marble
1916
Pediment over the east entrance to the House wing of the U.S. Capitol

Overview 

The sculptural pediment over the House entrance on the U.S. Capitol's East Front is called Apotheosis of Democracy. The entire pediment is 80 feet long, its height at the center is approximately 12 feet, and the length of the sculpture is approximately 60 feet.

"Peace Protecting Genius," an allegorical group consisting of two figures, fills the center of the pediment. An armed female figure representing Peace stands erect, draped in a mantle that almost completely hides her breastplate and coat of mail. Her left arm rests on her buckler, which is supported by the altar at her side. In the background is the olive tree of peace. Her right arm is extended in a gesture of protection over the youthful winged figure of Genius, who nestles confidently at her feet and holds in his right hand a torch symbolizing immortality.

The composition is completed by figures representing two great sources of wealth. To the left of the central group, Industry is represented by (from right to left) a printer and his press, an ironworker, foundry workers pouring molten metal, a textile spinner at her wheel, and a boy catching a fish. To the right of the central group, Agriculture is represented by (from left to right) a youth, a reaper, a husbandman (agriculturist) with an ox, a woman and children harvesting a field, and a ram and a lamb. Waves at either end of the sculpture symbolize the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans.

Paul Wayland Bartlett (1865-1925) modeled the figures in Paris, France, and Washington, D.C., in 1911-1914. They were carved in Georgia White marble by the Piccirilli Brothers of New York City in 1914-1916. The pediment was unveiled on August 2, 1916.

The three sections of the plaster models from which the pediment was carved were given to the United States Government in March 1963 by Mrs. Armistead Peter III, a stepdaughter of the artist. They are displayed in the Capitol terminal of the subway leading to the Rayburn House Office Building.

Last Updated: October 10, 2014