This engraved print shows a view of the United States Capitol Building, in Washington, D.C. The print depicts the neoclassical building from the northeast orientation, with a bustling street scene in front. The steel engraving is a proof printing, drawn and engraved by Henry Sartain and published in 1858.
Plans began in May 1854 to build a new cast-iron dome for the United States Capitol. The then-architect of the Capitol Thomas Walter and his team were sold on the aesthetics of a new dome, as well as the utility of a fire-proof one. A year later, on March 3, 1855, President Franklin Pierce signed off on the appropriation of $100,000 to build the dome. Construction began in September of that year with the removal of the first dome raised by Charles Bulfinch. Over the next 11 years, the dome rose over the nation's capital. By December of 1863, Walter was able to set the Statue of Freedom atop the dome. Thomas Walter resigned in 1865 and his replacement, Edward Clark, assumed the role of finishing the last aspects of the dome. Just over a month later, in January 1866, Constantino Brumidi, who had been hired to paint a fresco above the interior dome's oculus, removed the scaffolding used during his work on the Apotheosis of Washington. This signaled the end of construction for the United States Capitol dome.
When this print was engraved in 1858, the Capitol was still finishing renovations. The new dome had yet to be completed and Sartain had to take some artistic liberties to depict a finished building. As such, the completed dome shown here is inaccurately proportioned. In the engraving’s lower margins, descriptive text list the firms and individuals involved in the building of the original Capitol building at left and those firms and individuals responsible for the renovations and completion of the new Capitol building at right.
Henry Sartain (1833-1895) was the son of prominent Philadelphian engraver John Sartain. Following his father’s lead, Henry became involved in the print world and family business, but as a printer rather than a printmaker. Over time, he established himself as one of the preeminent printers of engravings in Philadelphia.
Good condition overall. Steel engraving. Titles engraved, labeled "Proof." in the lower margin. A few marginal tears occasionally crossing image repaired verso, some minor spotting. Overall Sheet Dimensions: 21 ¼” H x 29 ¼” W.
Engraving has been archivally framed in a custom star wooden frame with gold fillet and a black acid-free top mat.
25"H x 34 1/4"W x 1"D
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