A Creative Showcase

Expansion provided additional space that offered a showcase for American creativity. Sculptors filled porticoes with statues, and designed elaborate stair rails and bronze doors. They also turned their talents to commonplace features, such as door pulls. Painters covered walls and ceilings with murals, drawing on both ancient and American subjects for inspiration.

Artists from Italy, France, Germany, England, and the United States crafted decorations. The work of Thomas Crawford, the most celebrated of the sculptors employed, can be seen in the Senate pediment and the Statue of Freedom atop the dome. The Capitol’s leading artist, the painter Constantino Brumidi, created vibrant frescoes for rooms and corridors. His greatest work, The Apotheosis of Washington, graces the canopy over the inner dome.

  • Liberty, by Constantino Brumidi, ca. 1860

    This allegorical figure is part of the ceiling decorations in the President’s Room.

    Architect of the Capitol

  • Westward the Course of Empire Takes Its Way, by Emanuel Leutze, 1862

    This mural, located in the west grand stairway of the House wing, was the only work of art made for the Capitol during the Civil War.

    Architect of the Capitol


  • Constantino Brumidi, by Mathew Brady, ca. 1866

    Brumidi worked on decorating the Capitol from 1855 to 1880, but most intensively from 1855 to 1865.

    Architect of the Capitol

  • Columbus Doors, by Randolph Rogers, 1858

    These bronze doors depicting events in the life of Columbus are located at the principal entrance to the Capitol from the east portico.

    Architect of the Capitol