Ornamental glove?

Small Senate Rotunda and chandelier add uniqueness to the U.S. Capitol.
Floor and columns beneath the U.S. Capitol small Senate rotunda.

Well, not really; although at a glance that’s what came to mind.

Above these columns and opening is the small rotunda in the old Senate wing of the U.S. Capitol, designed by Benjamin Henry Latrobe as an ornamental air shaft.  It was constructed after the fire of 1814 as a means of lighting the corridors and circulating air into rooms that open onto the space. https://www.aoc.gov/capitol-buildings/small-senate-rotunda

Small Senate rotunda in the U.S Capitol

In the pre-fire period this elliptical space housed the Senate wing’s main staircase. Benjamin Henry Latrobe remarked to Thomas Jefferson that “it was one of the most remarkable parts of the Capitol.”

The chandelier hanging in this rotunda since 1965 was purchased for $1,500 from the ABC Wrecking Co., which had removed it from the Capitol Hill United Methodist Church on Seward Square in southeast Washington, D.C., before razing that building. Wow, I can you imagine buying it today?

Imported from Europe in 1903, it previously hung in an historic Baltimore theater and a Capitol Hill church. Originally smaller, it has been enlarged and modified over its history. The chandelier reportedly has 14,500 crystals and weighs nearly 2,000 pounds.

Blessings along the Way!

Ron

 

Where is your Rotunda?

U.S. Capitol Rotunda dome in Washington, D.C.

It seems that most nation and state capitols have a dome, or rotunda.  Each has a story to tell, with its own unique history. 

U.S. Capitol dome in Washington, D.C.

Although I’ve seen firsthand the U.S. Capitol Rotunda a few times during my visits there, I didn’t have the particular desire at the time to learn more of its history – only to absorb its uniqueness and beauty. 

Why not?  Maybe, as I mature, I realize the significance of what has transpired to where we are today.  I realize there are myriads of untold stories and facts that await discovery.

The U.S. Capitol Rotunda is a large, domed, circular room in the center of the United States Capitol on the second floor. It is used for important ceremonial events such as the lying in state of eminent citizens and the dedication of works of art.

Center of the U.S. Capitol Rotunda in Washington, D.C.

The Rotunda canopy features the painting entitled The Apotheosis of Washington, and the walls hold historic paintings along with a frescoed band, or “frieze,” depicting significant events in American history.

The Apotheosis was painted in 11 months at the end of the Civil War, soon after the new dome was completed, for $40,000. The figures, up to 15 feet tall, were painted to be intelligible from close up as well as from 180 feet below. (Note: The word “apotheosis” means literally the raising of a person to the rank of a god, or the glorification of a person as an ideal, as George Washington was honored as a national icon in the nineteenth century). 

My personal opinion about this attempt to show George Washington in this elevated state would have upset this humble, respected leader.  He didn’t even want to continue being president, and certainly didn’t want to be considered king – hence why he returned to his home and family to allow others to be selected by the people to lead the nation. 

Some of the groups and figures in the Rotunda were inspired by classical and renaissance images. 

George Washington is depicted in the center of the fresco rising to the heavens in glory, flanked by female figures representing liberty and victory/fame.  A rainbow arches at his feet, and thirteen maidens symbolizing the original states flank the three central figures. Six groups of figures line the perimeter of the canopy. 

Just below the apotheosis and windows of the dome is the frieze, containing a painted panorama of significant events in American history.

I’ll provide some of the artist’s background and a few more details in my next post. I thought it was interesting.

Blessings along the way!

Ron