Three corridors on the first floor of the U.S. Capitol's House wing are elaborately decorated with wall and ceiling murals.

These corridors complement those in the Brumidi Corridors in the Senate wing of the U.S. Capitol. The murals and decorations here include historical scenes, portraits and maps related to the development and growth of the United States.

The murals of the Cox Corridors are set within an architectural framework of pilasters and trompe l'oeil classical carvings, and quotations from historical figures are painted above many of the doorways.

The project was authorized by Congress in 1971. Allyn Cox was asked to submit a proposal because of his previous work in the Capitol, which included the completion of the Rotunda frieze in 1953 and the portrait of Henry Clay in the Senate Reception Room in 1959; later, he also painted the mural depicting the moon landing in the north Brumidi Corridor in 1975. He had begun planning murals for the first House corridor in 1969 and later developed a master plan for the other two corridors.

Similar materials and methods were used in the decoration of all three corridors. After thorough surface preparation, canvas was applied to the walls and ceilings. The artists then transferred the designs from full-size cartoons to the canvas by means of pouncing (applying powdered charcoal through perforations in the cartoons). The murals were then executed in oil paint.

Initial approval for the Cox plan was given by the Joint Committee on the Library, the Committee on House Administration, and the Architect of the Capitol. Funds for the project were contributed by the United States Capitol Historical Society, with additional support for the second corridor provided by the Daughters of the American Revolution.

"The Constitutional Convention, 1787" by Allyn Cox

The Art Collection

The Constitutional Convention, 1787

Following the Revolutionary War, the new American government was first organized under the Articles of Confederation, but that document gave the federal government too little authority to be effective. Convened to amend the Articles of Confederation, this convention wrote a new Constitution that strengthened the national government but imposed the separation of powers and a system of checks and balances to guard against tyranny. This mural shows delegates meeting in Benjamin Franklin's garden (from left to right): Alexander Hamilton, James Wilson, James Madison, and Benjamin Franklin.

About the Piece