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

Featured

The Summerhouse, a hexagon-shaped brick structure set into the sloping hillside of the West Front lawn on the Senate side of the U.S. Capitol Building, has offered rest and shelter to travelers for over a century.
The Summerhouse, a hexagon-shaped brick structure set into the sloping...

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

Photo of Dome damage and scaffolding.
As scaffolding installation is completed on the Capitol Dome, the restoration...

Featured

Capitol Hill, with its rich history and iconic buildings, allows for an eclectic mix of professions. Jim Saenger, the Capitol’s Carillonneur, has perhaps one of the most unique and least visible jobs on the Hill.
Capitol Hill, with its rich history and iconic buildings, allows for an...

Genius of America Pediment

Genius of America Sculptural Pediment
Luigi Persico, Copied by Bruno Mankowski
Artist

Sandstone, 1825-1828
Marble, 1959-1960
East central entrance of the U.S. Capitol

Overview 

The sculptural pediment over the east central entrance of the U.S. Capitol is called Genius of America. The entire pediment is 81 feet 6 inches in length and the figures are 9 feet high.

The central figure represents America, who rests her right arm on a shield inscribed "USA"; the shield is supported by an altar bearing the inscription "July 4, 1776." America points to Justice, who lifts scales in her left hand and in her right hand holds a scroll inscribed "Constitution, 17 September 1787." To America's left are an Eagle and the figure of Hope, who rests her arm on an anchor.

Italian sculptor Luigi Persico's original design for the sculpture included figures of Peace, Plenty, and Hercules; these were replaced at the suggestion of President John Quincy Adams with the figure of Hope. Adams wished the design to "represent the American Union founded on the Declaration of Independence and consummated by the organization of the general government under the Federal Constitution, supported by Justice in the past, and relying upon Hope in Providence for the future."

Persico created the original sandstone figures in 1825-1828. When the Capitol's east central front was extended in 1958-1962, the badly deteriorated figures were removed and restored and plaster models were made of them. From these models the reproductions seen today on the pediment were carved in Georgia White marble by Bruno Mankowski.

The plaster models are displayed in the basement rotunda of the Cannon House Office Building, on the subway level. The original sandstone figures are in storage.

Last Updated: October 10, 2014