Apotheosis Artist

How do they do that? I wonder as I look at the fantastic, artistic work like we see in the U.S. Capitol’s Rotunda. 

Constantino Brumidi (1805–1880) is best known for the murals he painted in the United States Capitol over a 25-year period, including the “Apotheosis of Washington,” the “Frieze of American History” and the walls of the Brumidi Corridors.  (https://www.aoc.gov/capitol-hill/artists/constantino-brumidi)

Brumidi’s artistic vision was based on the wall paintings of ancient Rome and Pompeii, and on classical revivals that occurred in the Renaissance and Baroque periods, and in the early 19th-century.

Frieze of American history by Brumidi. (photo courtesy of Architects of the Capitol)

Brumidi was born in Rome before Italy was a nation. Beginning at age 13, he studied for 14 years at the Academy of St. Luke and was trained in the full range of painting mediums, including true fresco, and possibly in sculpture. He achieved a mastery of the human figure and learned how to create the appearance of three-dimensional forms on flat surfaces, an effect called trompe l’oeil (“fool the eye”).

At the Roman villa of the wealthy Torlonia family, he was in charge of decorating the new theater with murals including trompe l’oeil architectural forms and classical motifs that he later adapted for the Capitol.

Brumidi also worked extensively for the Vatican, restoring frescoes for Pope Gregory XVI and painting the official portrait of Pope Pius IX. His last murals in Rome were in a small church dedicated in 1851.

Brumidi helped support his family with the coffee shop inherited from his father. He also served as captain in the civic guard authorized by Pius IX, but when the pope fled the city, and a republic was declared in 1849, Brumidi was caught up in the revolution when he removed valuable objects from church buildings for safekeeping.

After the pope returned to power, Brumidi was among many arrested and accused of serious crimes. Despite numerous testimonies in his favor, and after 13 months of incarceration, he was sentenced to 18 years in prison. The pope pardoned him with the understanding that he would be leaving for America, where he was promised work in planned churches.

Arriving in New York in September 1852, Brumidi immediately applied for citizenship, which he was granted in 1857. He undertook private portrait and domestic commissions as well as painting altar pieces and murals in numerous churches.

Frieze at the U.S. Capitol Rotunda in Washington, D.C.

Beginning in 1855, Brumidi decorated walls and ceilings in the U.S. Capitol Building.  He worked with teams of artists to carry out his designs, executing all of the true frescoes himself. His murals combine classical and allegorical subjects with portraits and scenes from American history and tributes to American values and inventions.

Brumidi’s major contributions are the monumental canopy and frieze of the new Capitol Dome, and the Capitol Apotheosis in 1865.  He began painting the frieze depicting major events in American history in 1878 but died on February 19, 1880, with the work less than half finished.

Brumidi’s frieze image depicting Christopher Columbus landing in North America (photo courtesy of Architects of the Capitol)

Filippo Costaggini carried out Brumidi’s remaining designs between 1881 and 1889.  The entire frieze was not completed until 1953, when Allyn Cox added the last three scenes.

The sequence of 19 scenes begins over the west door and moves clockwise around the Rotunda. See https://www.aoc.gov/art/other-paintings-and-murals/frieze-american-history for details of the scenes.

Brumidi’s frieze image depicting North American aviation (photo courtesy of Architects of the Capitol)

Brumidi’s immigration to the U.S. and his citizenship is an example of the influence of those coming to the United States to provide significant and lasting value, how people from around the world helped build a nation to champion world freedom and prosperity. Notice it took Brumidi from 1852 to 1857 to obtain his U.S. citizenship.  He became a citizen the right way, even though it took about five years. 

Blessings along the Way!


Botanic Garden – gem in D.C.

Model of Botanic Garden in Washington, D.C. made from natural resources.

Watch closely or you’ll miss it. 

Nestled among the federal buildings, traffic, hustle and bustle, along with trying to drive to keep from crashing while checking for special sites – is a wonderful botanic garden – practically on the grounds of the U.S. Capitol.

Botanic Garden and Conservatory entrance area with U.S. Capitol in background

I guess it is befitting so those who work in Washington, D.C. to be able to have a garden to provide a little stress relief.  It’s good for guests too!

U.S. Capitol display with natural resources.

U.S. Botanic Garden in D.C. has special displays for Christmas and holidays
Real U.S. Capitol in Washington, D.C.

I was pleasantly surprised during our visit in late November to see the special displays mixed with the unique garden and conservatory. 

The White House display with natural resources in the Botanic Garden and Observatory
The real White House in Washington, D.C.

Wow, it is amazing to see some of the monuments and special structures build with natural resources.

The displays fit right in with the Christmas and holiday decorations. 

Blessings and love along the way,


D.C. bound

U.S. Capitol
U.S. Capitol in Washington, D.C. , capital of the United States of America

I haven’t finished posting from our fall trip out west in the U.S. but I want to divert a little to our more recent trip to Washington, D.C., just after Thanksgiving. 

We had an interesting drive along Interstate 95, with the excessive holiday traffic. 

There is no need to show you the traffic congestion along with the stop-and-go scenarios but trust me – that was the busiest time of travel on the Interstate – Thanksgiving weekend.  Even the rest areas were packed so we had to plan a little more strategy. 

I really liked Virginia’s rest area.  It was clean and provided an excellent selection of snacks and beverages, along with the hostess and in-depth information.   I believe it when they say Virginia is for lovers too.  I’ve traveled extensively through the east and west sides of Virginia.  Each has its own unique landscape and style. 

When you travel north of Richmond traffic seems to increase considerably, any time of year.  No doubt it’s what I call the D.C. influence.  I like to stay in the right lane as much as possible and let those who are intent on speeding excessively just pass by. 

Those traveling during the Christmas holiday need to be extra careful as more people will be on the roads – similar to the Thanksgiving travel time. 

After traveling through the stressful routes into D.C. we worked up an appetite and decided on some good-ole barbeque (barbecue, BBQ).  Hence, we settled on Texas BBQ – yes, even though we were In D.C. 

The staff at Texas Jack’s Barbecue was very nice and professional.  The menu is by item though, so the cost can sneak up on you.  We had a few samplings and they were very good. 

Traveling to D.C. and Texas Jack restaurant
Texas Jack paper image in Texas Jack Barbecue restaurant in D.C.

I was curious about who Texas Jack was, so I took a picture of the paper image in the restaurant. I then looked up information on Wikipedia and here it is if you would like to read more on his background. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Texas_Jack_Omohundro

During the next couple of days, I’ll post a few unique displays we discovered in D.C. to emphasize the holiday spirit.  I’m glad you are still traveling with us as we divert a little to this area.

Blessings and love along the way,