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ing all the most beautiful forms and proportions of classic architecture. The exterior presents a noble peristyle, 124 feet in diameter, of fluted columns 27 feet in height, resting upon an octagonal base or stylobate, which itself is 93 feet above the basement foor. The top of
the entablature of the peristyle is at the height of 127 feet above the basement floor. From this entablature springs an attic 44 feet in height and 108 feet in diameter; and from the cornice of the attic, the great dome, of a semi-ellipsoidal form, rises to a height of 228 feet. The lantern on the top of this dome is 17 feet in diameter, and 52 feet high, and will be crowned by a bronze statue of Liberty, by Crawford, 16 feet 6 inches in height, rising to the height of 300 feet above the basement floor of the building.
Architectural Sculpture.—The tympanum of the central pediment of the capitol is decorated with a group sculptured in alto-relievo, representing the Genius of America, crowned with a star, her right hand holding a shield, inscribed with the letters U. S. A., surrounded with a glory. The shield rests on an altar, bearing the memorable date,
July 4, 1776,” within a wreath. Behind her stands a spear, and at her feet, the eagle. Her face is turned towards a figure of Hope, upon the left, whose attention she is directing, by her right hand, to a figure of Justice upon her right, holding the “ Constitution of the United States” upon a scroll, in her right hand, and the scales in her left. This group was executed by Signor Persico, and is said to have been designed by John Quincy Adams.
The northern pediment contains a group of sculpture by Thomas Crawford, representing the progress of civilization in the United States. In the centre of the tympanum stands a figure of America in the blaze of a rising sun. On her right are figures of the soldier, commerce, youth and education, the mechanic, and a sheaf of wheat, typical of agriculture. On her left are the pioneer back
woodsman, the hunter, the Indian and his squaw with an infant in her arms, sitting by a filled grave.
The southern pediment has not yet been filled, although it is understood that a design of the discovery by Columbus has been made for the purpose, by William R. Barbee, the Virginian sculptor. The subject is most appropriate, and no other can properly be substituted for it, since the adoption of the design by Crawford, in completing these most prominent decorations of the architecture. It is essential to commemorate the discovery of the country before we illustrate its progress.
Upon the cheek-blocks of the steps to the central portico, are two groups of statuary. On the north side, the early struggles of our pioneer settlers are symbolized in a group, by Horatio Greenough, representing a sturdy backwoodsman pinioning the arms of an Indian, who is about to dispatch, with his tomahawk, the wife and infant of the white man.
A faithful dog stands ready to assist his master in time of need. This spirited work was erected in 1853. In the corresponding position opposite, the discovery of America is typified by Signor Persico, in a statue of Columbus presenting a globe in his hand, while an Indian maiden crouches by his side, gazing at him with mingled vonder and astonishment.
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