Leaving the U.S. Capitol, we walked through the underground corridor...

that leads to the

The beautiful Thomas Jefferson Building, located directly across the street from the Capitol Building...
is the centerpiece of the Library of Congress' three buildings on Capitol Hill. The Library of Congress was established by an act of Congress in 1800 by President John Adams. The legislation described a reference library for Congress only, containing "such books as may be necessary for the use of Congress -- and for putting up a suitable apartment for containing them therein...." Actually anyone over the age of 16 can use the Library for research purposes, but within the premises of the Library. Only members of Congress can check out materials out of the Library.

The main attraction for visitors in the Thomas Jefferson Building is the glorious Great Hall.

The ceiling, 75-feet above the marble floor, is decorated with stained-glass skylights. During the renovation of the Jefferson Building in the 1980s, restorers discovered that the metallic ornamentation of the ceiling, once thought to be silver leaf, is actually aluminum leaf. When the building was being constructed during the 1890s, aluminum was more precious than silver.

The interior is simply breathtaking. 

The artistic decorations, embellished by works of art from nearly fifty American painters and sculptors, relate to learning, literature, knowledge, creativity and intellectual achievement. You can see the names of writers such as Victor Hugo, Walter Scott and James Fenimore Cooper, authors who were popular at the time the building was constructed, and were considered to have made great contributions to literature and history.

The circular panels above the doorways represent Spring, Summer, Autumn and Winter.

There are fifty-six triangular-shaped printers’ marks around the brilliantly-painted ceiling. Printers’ marks were a type of self-protection similar to a trademark or copyright today.

The paired columns that hold up the ceiling have an elaborate leaf design on their capitals.

At the corners of the ceiling two winged figures of genius flank an emblem showing the traditional symbols of learning, a torch and a book.

Two marble staircases flank the Great Hall.

Figures of small children, or putti as they are called in Italian Renaissance art, are carved into the railings. They represent the various occupations and hobbies in contemporary American life when the Jefferson Building was completed in 1897.

A bronze statue of a female figure on newel post holds a torch of electric light. The importance of America’s contributions to science such as Benjamin Franklin's discovery of electricity, is celebrated throughout the Jefferson Building.

On the second floor of the Great Hall is the beautiful Minerva Mosaic which leads to the overlook of the Main Reading Room. I'll show you my photos of that in my next post.

All photos in this blog post were taken by my husband and me during our visit in September, 2013.



Of course there are other works of art in the U.S. Capitol building besides the dome fresco The Apotheosis of Washington and the Frieze of American History that I wrote about in a previous post

Around the perimeter of the Capitol rotunda are eight large (12 feet by 18 feet) historical paintings:

Below, to the left is Declaration of Independence, one of four paintings by John Trumbull under his 1817 commission from the U.S. Congress. This painting depicts the moment on June 28, 1776, when Thomas Jefferson, in the center, places the Declaration of Independence in front of John Hancock, president of the Second Continental Congress.

The painting on the right is Surrender of General Burgoyne also painted by Trumbull in 1821. The painting shows the surrender of British General John Burgoyne at Saratoga, New York on October 17, 1777, which was a turning point in the American Revolution, and it was the deciding factor in bringing active French support to the American cause. .

The painting above is General George Washington Resigning His Commission, painted by Trumbull between 1822 and 1824.  This painting depicts the scene on December 23, 1783, when George Washington resigned his commission as commander-in-chief of the Continental Army. The action was significant for establishing civilian authority over the military, a fundamental principle of American democracy. The statue in front is of the 20th U.S. President James G

There is a lot of significant art in the photo below:

To the left is Embarkation of the Pilgrims, painted by Robert W. Weir in 1843. This painting depicts the Pilgrims on the deck of the ship Speedwell on July 22, 1620, before they departed for North America, where they sought religious freedom. The painting on the right is Baptism of Pocahontas, painted in 1839 by John Gadsby Chapman. The painting depicts the ceremony in which Pocahontas was baptized and given the name Rebecca in an Anglican church.

Two important sculptures are also in the photo: To the left is a statue of General Dwight Eisenhower, given to the Statuary Hall collection by the State of Kansas. In between the two paintings is a bronze bust of Martin Luther King, Jr., created in 1986 by artist John Wilson.

Another work of art depicting an important member of the Civil Rights Movement is the statue of Rosa Parks. The statue is close to 9 feet tall including its pedestal.

On February 27, 2013, approximately 100 years after her birth, the statue was unveiled in Statuary Hall on February 4, 1913. The bronze statue depicts Parks seated on a rock-like formation of which she seems almost a part, symbolizing her famous refusal to give up her bus seat. The statue shows Parks wearing the exact clothing she wore that day. 

Pioneers of the women's suffrage movement, which won women the right to vote in 1920, are beautifully depicted in a group bust sculpture located in the Capitol Rotunda.
Adelaide Johnson carved this sculpture from an 8-ton block of  Carrara marble. The monument features portrait busts of three leaders of the woman suffrage movement: Elizabeth Cady Stanton (left), Susan B. Anthony (center) and Lucretia Mott (right). The statue was originally unveiled on February 15, 1921 in the Crypt (located on the first floor of the Capitol, we began our tour in this area). In May 1997, the sculpture was relocated to the Capitol Rotunda.

If you want to read more about the other paintings, sculptures and statues in the Capitol building, visit here.

All photos in this blog post were taken by my husband and me during our visit in September, 2013.


Yes, there is...

Our tour guide showed us. She stood several yards away and whispered into her hand, but we could actually hear her. As she walked towards us, we couldn't hear her as clear. It was very interesting.

The half-dome shape of National Statuary Hall produces an acoustical effect like a whispering gallery.
National Statuary Hall, also known as the Old Hall of the House, is the large, two-story, semicircular room next to the Rotunda. It is built in the shape of an ancient amphitheater and is one of the earliest examples of Greek revival architecture in America. Around the room's perimeter stand colossal columns of variegated Breccia marble quarried along the Potomac River. The Corinthian capitals of white marble were carved in Carrara, Italy. The lantern in the ceiling admits natural light into the Hall.

Only two of the many statues presently in the room were commissioned for display in the original hall:

Enrico Causici's neocloassical plaster Liberty and the Eagle looks out over the Hall from a niche above the colonnade...

Carlo Franzoni's 1810 sculptural clock, Car of History. The sculpture depicts Clio, the Muse of History, riding in a chariot of Time and recording events in the book she holds as they unfold in the chamber below. The car rests on a marble globe on which signs of the zodiac are carved in relief. The wheel of the chariot contains the chamber clock installed in 1837.

All photos in this blog post were taken by my husband and me during our visit in September, 2013.