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Two of the finest pieces of sculpture about the Capitol are the statues of Mars and Ceres, by Persico, symbolizing War and Peace. They stand in niches on the right and left of the entrance to the rotunda. Immediately over the door, is a fine bas-relief by Signor Capellano, representing Fame and Peace crowning a bust of Washington with wreaths of laurel.
The Rotunda.—This circular room, occupying the centre of the building, is ninety-six feet in diameter, and the entire height of the interior of the dome. It is surrounded by an ordonnance of fluted pilasters thirty feet in height, supporting an entablature and cornice of fourteen feet. Above this cornice a vertical wall will be raised, with a deep recessed panel nine feet in height, to be filled with sculpture, forming a continuous frieze three hundred feet in length, of figures in alto-relievo. The subject to be the History of America. The gradual progress of a continent from the depths of barbarism to the height of civilization; the rude and primitive civilization of some of the ante-Columbian tribes; the contests of the Aztecs with their less civilized predecessors; their own conquest by the Spanish race; the wilder state of the hunter tribes of our own regions; the discovery, settlement, and wars of America; the advance of the white and retreat of the red races; our own revolutionary and other struggles, with an illustration of the higher achievements of our present civilization, will afford a richness and variety of costume, character, and incident, which may worthily employ our best sculptors in its execution, and which will form for future ages a monument of the present state of the arts in this country. Above the frieze the interior will be enriched by a
series of attached columns, with large windows in the interspaces, giving ample light to the rotunda.
Above this colonnade a dome will spring, which, contracting to a space of sixty-five feet in diameter, will, through its opening, permit the eye to see another and lighter colonnade at a higher level; the whole being closed in at the base of the lantern, and at a height of 203 feet above the pavement of the rotunda, by a second dome of 73 feet span.
This upper dome, lighted by openings around its base, should be richly painted. Galleries at various heights, approached by stairs between the inner and outer shells of the building, will afford easy access to all parts of the dome, and from thence will be obtained a series of most picturesque views of the interior of the rotunda, and of the beautiful surrounding scenery.
The walls of the rotunda, between the pilasters below, are decorated with eight paintings on canvas, each eighteen feet in length by twelve in height. Four of them are by the hand of Colonel John Trumbull, and illustrate the Declaration of Independence, the Surrender of Burgoyne at Saratoga, the Surrender of Lord Cornwallis at Yorktown, and the Resignation of Washington, as Commander-in-chief of the Army, in 1783. These paintings were ordered by the government, at an expense of $8,000 each, and are valuable and interesting for the portraits they contain. The remaining four are, the Embarcation of the Pilgrims in the Speedwell, at Delft Haven, by Robert W. Weir; the Landing of Columbus, by John Vanderlyn; De Soto’s Discovery of the Mississippi, by William H. Powell; and the Baptism of Pocahontas, by John Gadsby Chapman. These were also ordered by Congress, and cost the government from $10,000 to $20,000 each. All these paintings have their faults, either in respect of design, perspective, or color; and yet they all have their individual merits, and are worthy of the study of the artist and connoisseur. The wall above these paintings is ornamented with panels
of arabesque in bas-relief. Four alternate panels contain heads of Columbus, Sir Walter Raleigh, Cabot, and La Salle.
In panels over the four doors of the rotunda, are altorelievos in stone; Penn's Treatywwith the Indians, by M. Gevelot; the Landing of the Pilgrims at Plymouth, by Causici; the Conflict of Daniel Boone with the Indians, by the same artist; and the Rescue of Captain John Smith by Pocahontas, by Capellano.
The floor of the rotunda is of freestone, and is supported by arches of brick, resting upon two concentric peristyles of forty Doric columns in the crypt below. It was the intention of Congress to place the remains of Washington in a mausoleum in the sub-basement, beneath the rotunda, to be made accessible by a spiral staircase descending from the floor. This project was abandoned in 1832, upon the passage of a resolution by the Virginia legislature, requesting the proprietors of Mount Vernon not to consent to the removal of the remains, and the declension of John A. Washington, on the ground of respect for Washington's Will, directing the disposition of his ashes and those of his family.
The Senate Chamber.-In the centre of the north wing is the chamber of the Senate. Its entrance from the interior of the building is at the termination of a long corridor, extending through the rotunda, and connecting with the door of the Hall of Representatives in the south wing. The main entrance from the exterior is by the eastern portico, through a spacious vestibule, with a marble paneled ceiling, supported by sixteen coupled fluted columns, with capitals beautifully foliated with acanthus and tobacco leaves. The walls of the vestibule are set with niches for statuary.
The chamber itself is rectangular, and is 112 feet long by 82 in width, and 30 feet in height. The ceiling is entirely of cast iron, deeply paneled, with stained glass skylights, and ornamented in the richest style with foliage, pendants, and drops. The hall is surrounded by a gallery capable of seating one thousand persons. A portion of the gallery, over the chair of the Vice-President, is appropriated to reporters for the press. A section of the gallery, in front of the chair, is also reserved for the use of the diplomatic corps. The Secretary of the Senate, and his two assistants, occupy a desk immediately in front of the chair, and at the foot of this desk sit the special reporters of the debates. The seats of the Senators are ranged in three semicircular rows fronting the chair, each being supplied with a small desk standing in ont of it. The walls and ceiling are painted in very high colors, and the iron-work bronzed and gilded. The chamber is lighted at night by gas, above the skylights, and is of such an even temper that it can scarcely be distinguished from daylight. The galleries are reached by magnificent marble staircases at either end of the hall, ceiled with ornamental iron-work, and lighted by stained glass skylights. These staircases, and those corresponding in the south wing, are the most striking points of architecture in the extension. The Senate cha er is surrounded by a corridor, which separates it from the Secretary's office and committee-rooms ranged around the outer walls of the wing.
Immediately in the rear of the chair is the Senators' Retiring Room, 38 by 21 feet, and 192 in height. This is one of the gems of the building. The ceiling is of white marble, deeply paneled, and supported by four