Lecture: Pompeii on the Potomac, Brumidi's Senate Frescoes

Elise Friedland, GW associate professor of classics and art history

GW associate professor Elise Friedland will reveal connections between nineteenth-century America and ancient Rome by examining the frescoes Constantino Brumidi painted in a Senate meeting room, originally designed to house the Naval Affairs Committee. An Italian artist turned U.S. citizen, Brumidi is best-known for his majestic Apotheosis of Washington, painted in the Capitol Rotunda.

Friedland will share insight into Brumidi's Senate frescoes: how he reinterpreted a Roman Maenad (follower of Dionysus) from the House of the Ship at Pompeii as a flag-bearing maiden representing the fledgling U.S.; how he adapted Roman imagery of the monstrous Medusa to depict Native Americans; and more. This fresco cycle offers a window onto the “Culture of Classicism” in nineteenth-century America and the role of public art in shaping the narrative of U.S. history.

This program is part of the D.C. Mondays at the Museum series inspired by the Albert H. Small Washingtoniana Collection. Free; no reservations required.