“I have no longer any desire for fame or fortune. My one ambition and my daily prayer is that I may live long enough to make beau
tiful the Capitol of the one country on earth in which there is liberty.”
– Excerpt, To Make Beautiful the Capitol (p. vi)
The man who wrote these words, Constantino Brumidi, worked for twenty-five years to achieve his dream. He created fresco murals in the Capitol that decorate important Senate rooms, the famous Brumidi Corridors, and the Apotheosis of Washington, which occupies the ceiling of the Capitol Rotunda. The artist, having studied at the Academia di San Lucia and worked at the Vatican Palace, arrived in New York City in 1852. In 1854 Montgomery C. Meigs hired him to decorate the walls of rooms and corridors of the two new wings of the Capitol. In February 1880, while finishing the work on the Apotheosis of Washington in the Rotunda, he fell from the scaffolding and died shortly thereafter.
The U.S. Senate Commission of Fine Arts has produced a book that not only discusses the art work of Brumidi, but also the restoration of the frescoes that have been going on for 20 years. To Make Beautiful the Capitol: Rediscovering the Art of Constantino Brumidi, provides insight into the artist, the country’s capitol, and the process of modern restoration. The book is full of illustrations that
demonstrate the magic of the fresco restoration process.
In 2012 Brumidi received the Congressional Gold Medal in recognition of his artistic contribution to the United States and its Capitol. Now that your interest has been piqued, check out the book, and then visit the Capitol to take a special tour of the Brumidi Corridors.