Art and Artistry

The Capitol is more than a building. It's a showcase for American ideals. B. Henry Latrobe commissioned a figure of Liberty and a magnificent clock for the House Chamber, and Justice, a relief in the Supreme Court. For the Senate, Latrobe designed a gallery supported by statues representing the states—though these were never made.

Charles Bulfinch's rotunda featured sculpture and paintings of European explorers, Indians, and settlers. Luigi Persico sculpted an allegory entitled Genius of America for the pediment over the east portico, and symbolic figures of War and Peace for niches flanking the rotunda entrance. In 1817, Congress commissioned John Trumbull to paint four Revolutionary War scenes for the rotunda. Twenty years later, four other artists began filling the remaining spaces with scenes of America's settlement by Europeans.

  • Declaration of Independence, by John Trumbull, 1819

    This is one of four paintings Congress commissioned for the rotunda to commemorate the greatest events of the American Revolution.

    Architect of the Capitol

  • Car of History, by Carlo Franzoni, ca. 1819

    Clio, the ancient Greek muse of history, records the events in the House Chamber while riding a winged chariot. The sculpture, which includes a clock, is in Statuary Hall.

    Architect of the Capitol

  • Genius of America, by Luigi Persico, 1828

    President John Quincy Adams suggested the figures in this pediment: Justice, America, and Hope. He wished to avoid complicated symbols and allegory.

    Architect of the Capitol

  • War, by Luigi Persico, 1834

    This sculpture and its companion, Peace, flank the entrance to the rotunda on the east portico.

    Architect of the Capitol