Thursday, February 5, 2009


The Apotheosis of Washington : Dome : U.S. Capitol
(Click image to enlarge.)

Today's entry will be brief, but I wanted to post pictures of the Apotheosis of Washington in the dome of the U.S. Capitol, which we toured on Tuesday. In theology, an apotheosis is the exaltation or deification of an individual, while in art it is a genre. The combination of the two generally results in a fresco like the one in the dome of the Capitol. The Apotheosis of Washington was painted in 1865 by Italian immigrant Constantino Brumidi. The fresco is 180 feet above the floor of the rotunda and covers more than 4,600 square feet. It cost $40,000 at the time; today, it would cost $535,000 to reproduce. (Although, knowing how the government works, it would more likely cost five times that!)

Constantino Brumidi's exaltation of George Washington--the Father of our Country--
in classical and Renaissance artistry.

(Click image to enlarge and appreciate the detail.)

For a full description of the content of the Apotheosis of Washington, visit the Architect of the Capitol's web page here or check out Wikipedia's description here.

Photo copyright: D.C. Confidential, 02/09


Denise said...

I have seen that beautiful dome several times over the years but never knew anything about it. Thank you for such an informative post.

Nancy said...

These are stunning photos! I've never been to DC but will some day.

Great post-thanks!


Virginia said...

Just beautiful DC. Thanks for the good info as well. Those are hard to capture. I get dizzy trying. Well done.

Rambling Round said...

I have seen these but not this close. Stunning!

Rachete said...

Pretty. Thank you for sharing these with us.

D.C. Confidential said...

Denise: You're welcome. This dome is a treasure.

Nancy: Thank you! D.C. should be one of the cities on everyone's list of places to visit at least once. So should San Diego! It's beautiful, too.

Virginia: Thanks. I had to really work to frame the dome properly. Even then, I had to crop a little off of one side. And yes, taking pictures like this can be dizzying. For something like this, I would have loved the luxury of actually lying on the floor, but I have a feeling a Capitol police officer would have strongly discouraged that.

Rambling: The detail is stunning, isn't it? I'd like to see these from the catwalk in the top of the dome, but I suppose that will just have to remain a dream.

Rachete: You're welcome!

Dusty Lens said...

So much art and history, love this dome series. Not easy to shoot looking straight up. Not a natural position...unless you were lying on the floor. I'd say do that anyway. You know me, a passive anarchist. ;)

marley said...

Wow, its stunning. If we ever get to Washington D.C I hope you'll come on a tour with us to see this again.

Hope your feeling better :)

Bob Crowe said...

Wow, George Washington transformed into a Baroque god. When I spotted this on the postal, it made me think of a dome of one of the great mosques. I wonder how many people who pass through the rotunda bother to look up.

Cele said...

could you imagine the work it took to create it? then the mind it took to imagine it? boogling.

D.C. Confidential said...

Rob: Shooting straight up is hard. The hardest part is keeping everything centered. One should definitely be allowed to lie down for that, I think! It would be so much easier.

Marley: I would be glad to do a Capitol tour with you and Phoebe.

Bob: Based on my observations, the following people look up consistently: tourists and tour guides. Those who don't? Anyone who works on the Hill. And yet, it's silly not, too. The dome is stunning and worth looking at every chance you get. One of these days, I'm going to go in there with binoculars, lay on the floor and spend an hour looking at the fresco.

Cele: Esp. frescoes, which are painted in small patches. The artist applies paint to wet plaster, which is why the colors remain so vibrant and deep. As for conceiving such a painting, yes, I imagine Brumidi had an amazing mind to develop this work of art.

Godinla said...

Wow! And wow! I'd like to wrap this up by saying - wow!

D.C. Confidential said...

GIL: :-)

Note to Bob: That one sentence should have said, "it's silly not to." I blame the improper use of a comma and too on my head cold.

Maya said...

I see you've been looking up a lot lately! Very nice photo!

Maya said...

BTW, I get accused all the time of being a tourist because they see the camera and me taking photos looking up... ;-)

D.C. Confidential said...

Maya: Yes, in so many ways!

As for the accusation of being a tourist, I can handle that as long as I'm not thought of as a touron. I really need to have a t-shirt made that says "I live here" and the URL for my blog.

Petrea said...


D.C. Confidential said...

Petrea: Yeah, I have the same reaction when I see this in person. Every.single.time. And I reacted similarly when I downloaded these photos and realized I'd finally captured this beauty exactly like I wanted.