The Apotheosis of Washington in the eye of the Rotunda of the U.S.
Capitol was painted in the true fresco technique by Constantino
Brumidi in 1865. Brumidi (1805-1880) was born and trained in
Rome and had painted in the Vatican and Roman palaces before
emigrating to the United States in 1852. A master of creating the
illusion of three-dimensional forms and figures on flat walls, Brumidi
painted frescoes and murals throughout the Capitol from 1855 until
his death. The canopy fresco, his most ambitious work at the
Capitol, was painted in eleven months at the end of the Civil War,
soon after the new dome was completed, for $40,000 (About
$600,000 today). Suspended 180 feet above the Rotunda floor, it
covers an area of 4,664 square feet. The figures, up to 15 feet tall,
were painted to be intelligible from close up as well as from 180
feet below. Some of the groups and figures were inspired by
classical and Renaissance images, especially by those of the
Italian master Raphael.
The Apotheosis of Washington History
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