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Picture This: A Study for the Capitol
December 11, 2013


Chief conservator Tiarna Doherty studies x-radiographs of Constantino Brumidi's study for the Rotunda of the Capitol Building. Photography by Conor Doherty.

You currently can see Constantino Brumidi's Study for the Apotheosis of Washington in the Rotunda of the United States Capitol Building on the second floor of the Smithsonian American Art Museum, near the sculpture of George Washington Resigning his Commission by Ferdinand Pettrich. This was the final study that Brumidi completed before beginning work on the interior of the U.S. Capitol dome, and the painting reveals a great deal about the artist's process.

The museum purchased the painting at auction in 2012, ensuring that this important artwork will be available to the public in perpetuity. The painting had been in private hands since the 1920s. Having this painting on view also allows visitors to get a closer look at the imagery around George Washington, including six vignettes that celebrate American virtues and the promise of the country's future.

We recently interviewed senior curator Eleanor Harvey and chief conservator Tiarna Doherty about this work and have created a video that explores the symbolism in the painting as well as highlight discoveries made during conservation. Take a look at the video and be sure to stop by the painting next time you visit the museum.

Posted by Georgina on December 11, 2013 in American Art Here, Behind the Scenes, Conservation at American Art, Picture This, Recent Acquistions


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