Beginning in 1855, Constantino Brumidi decorated many walls and ceilings in the U.S. Capitol, most prominently in the Capitol Rotunda and the corridors of the Senate wing. His murals combine classical and allegorical subjects with portraits and scenes from American history, and tributes to American values and inventions.

Brumidi worked on an impressive number of projects in the Capitol, including these six important rooms:

  1. Room H-144

    This is the first room that Brumidi ever painted in the U.S. Capitol. Originally occupied by the House Committee on Agriculture, it's now held by the House Appropriations Committee.

    "Calling of Cincinnatus from the Plow" is the first fresco by Constantino Brumidi in the U.S. Capitol.
    Room H-144 of the U.S. Capitol. Originally designed for the House Committee on Agriculture.
    Views of art by Brumidi in U.S. Capitol Room H-144.

    The Calling of Cincinnatus from the Plow (pictured above) is the first fresco by Brumidi. It depicts a retired Roman general recalled to defend his city, a classical event often seen as parallel to the life of George Washington. In the lunette on the opposite wall he painted a parallel scene from American history, The Calling of Putnam from the Plow to the Revolution. Figures personifying the Four Seasons appear to float on clouds in the ceiling.

  2. Room S-211

    Now named the Lyndon B. Johnson Room, S-211 was intended to be the Senate Library but was first used by the Senate Post Office. In recent years the room has been used for Senate meetings such as party caucuses and conferences.

    Telegraph, by Brumidi, features figures symbolizing Europe and America shaking hands, representing the bringing together of the continents by telegraphic communication after the laying of the transatlantic cable.
    Room S-211 of the U.S. Capitol, also known as the Lyndon B. Johnson Room.
    Views of art by Brumidi in U.S. Capitol Room S-211

    The center of the ceiling contains a medallion of acanthus leaves with striped shields in the corners. Borders of morning glories on dark red fields encircle four lunettes painted in true fresco featuring allegorical figures which represent Geography, History, Telegraph (pictured above) and Physics.

  3. Room S-213

    The Senate Reception Room, S-213, is where senators meet their constituents in the U.S. Capitol. The room was first called the "antechamber of the Senate," the "Receiving Room of the Senate," and later in the nineteenth century, the "Ladies Reception Room."

    The ceiling nearest the entrance to S-213 from the corridor is a dome filled with elaborate rosettes set in gilded coffers.
    Room S-213 of the U.S. Capitol serves as the Senate Reception Room.
    Views of art by Brumidi in U.S. Capitol Room S-213.

    Brumidi's ceiling frescoes in this room depict figures representing the virtues of Temperance, Strength, Prudence and Justice as well as War (seen in the cover photo at top), Peace, Freedom and Plenty. On the upper walls are maidens and cherubs in trompe l'oeil, creating the illusion they're three-dimensional marble. Many of the symbols depicted in this room are also seen in the Rotunda, the President's Room (below) and other Capitol spaces.

  4. Room S-216

    The President's Room, S-216, was intended to provide convenience for the chief executive when visiting the Capitol. Presidents once used the room to sign legislation into law at the close of each session of Congress, however this practice ended in 1933 with the passage of the 20th amendment, which established different ending dates for presidential and congressional terms of office. Although occasionally used by presidents, the room today is utilized primarily by senators for press conferences and meetings.​

    Room S-216 of the U.S. Capitol, also known as the President's Room.
    Benjamin Franklin reading a sheet inscribed "Buon Uomo Ricardo" ("Poor Richard" in Italian), referring to his almanac, and surrounded by books, newspapers and a printing press, for History.
    Views of art by Brumidi in U.S. Capitol Room S-216.

    Brumidi decorated the room with allegorical and historical figures on the ceiling while the walls were painted with portraits of George Washington and members of his first cabinet. In the corners of the ceiling are four figures representing fundamental aspects of the development of the nation: Amerigo Vespucci for Exploration, Christopher Columbus for Discovery, Benjamin Franklin (pictured above) for History, and Pilgrim leader William Brewster for Religion.

  5. Room S-127

    This room is designed in Pompeian style with a theme of the sea. Originally designed for and used by the Committee on Naval Affairs, S-127 is where the U.S. Senate Committee on Appropriations now meets.

    Room S-127 of the U.S. Capitol. Originally designed for the Senate Committee on Naval Affairs.
    Detail of U.S. Capitol room S-127 ceiling decoration showing Neptune, the god of the sea.
    Views of art by Brumidi in U.S. Capitol Room S-127.

    An allegorical figure representing America and numerous classical gods (such as Neptune, pictured above) and goddesses related to the sea are painted on the ceiling in true fresco. The pilasters and lower walls are painted to look like marble, and floating female figures holding nautical and marine objects appear in nine blue panels.

  6. Room S-128

    The Senate Committee on Military Affairs and Militia first occupied S-128, which is ornately decorated with shields, emblems of war and peace, and small illusionistic sculptural groups with historic scenes related to the Revolutionary War.

    Detail of lunette in U.S. Capitol room S-128 depicting Washington at Valley Forge, 1778.
    Room S-128 of the U.S. Capitol was originally designed for the Senate Military Affairs Committee.
    Views of art by Brumidi in U.S. Capitol Room S-128.

    Five frescoed lunettes depict the Battle of Lexington, the Boston Massacre, Washington at Valley Forge (pictured above), Death of General Wooster and Storming of Stony Point. Under four of the lunettes are illusionistic plaques holding the title of the scene, flanked by cherubs with garlands of flowers. Plain panels framed with leafy designs fill the walls.


Thank you for sharing these lovely photos of a selection of rooms in the Capitol Building. Such stunning artwork! All too frequently we only see the Chambers of The House and Senate. This article has just taken my breath away. I can't understand the disrespect this building has been given. I am very grateful for those protecting the Capitol, as well as the U.S. Constitution.

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