Constantino Brumidi – Artist of the US Capitol
Constantino Brumidi left Italy for the United States in 1852, he was nearly fifty years old, a mature artist bringing with him a wealth of skills, traditions and imagery. He was often referred to as the Michelangelo of the Capitol but he more accurately should be called the Raphael of the Capitol since it was Raphael who was his greatest inspiration. He spent 25 years as the Artist of the Capitol.
I recently went on a private tour of the Brumidi Corridors at the Capitol. The most extensive and accessible space in the Capitol decorated in the pompeian style. Brumidi played a major role in the overall design for the walls and ceilings and painted the most important elements, but he was assisted by many others in creating the ornate mural decoration. Brumidi integrated American motifs into a classical framework. The design of the corridors reflects the classical Roman style as it had been recreated in the corridors of the Vatican, where the walls and ceilings are divided by trompe l’oeil architectural moldings and filled with classical flora, fauna, and mythological figures. Raphael’s second floor loggia in the Vatican was a direct source of inspiration while Raphael’s inspiration was the Golden House of Nero.
An early guidebook estimated, “It would require a volume to describe the corridors accurately….” It would take many hours if not days of careful looking to appreciate all of the details. The Italian artist incorporated American flowers, fruits, birds, small mammals, insects, reptiles, inventions and historical portraits along with classical figures and motifs. No two panels are identical. The decorative painting of the corridors began in late 1857 , and was not completed until 20 years later. Because of lack of time and funds, Brumidi was never able to fill many areas intended for paintings, which remain blank today. If you enjoy history, you will be very interested to read about the process of creating our fabulous Capitol building and all the incredible artwork that it has as a result of Constantino Brumidi. Constantino Brumidi: Artist of the Capitol
I took a lot of pictures of the elements in the panels. The painting was so beautifully executed.