“Art and Empire is an insightful and long-overdue account…[that] should be read not only by those interested in antebellum American culture but by anyone interested in the wider problem of official art in modern society.”
“Art and Empire is a fine cultural history, well researched, well illustrated, and illuminating.”
The Journal of American History
The subject matter and iconography of much of the art in the U.S. Capitol forms a remarkably coherent program of the early course of North American empire, from discovery and settlement to the national development and westward expansion that necessitated the subjugation of the indigenous peoples.
In Art and Empire, Vivien Green Fryd's revealing cultural and political interpretation of the portraits, reliefs, allegories, and historical paintings commissioned for the U.S. Capitol, the reader is given an enhanced appreciation for the racial and ethnic implications of these works.
This latest contribution to the United States Capitol Historical Society's Perspectives on the Art and Architectural History of the United States Capitol series provides an affordable and accessible insight into one of our most visited, viewed, and revered national buildings. Professor Fryd demonstrates how the politics of our history is written in stone and painted on the walls of these hallowed halls.
Vivien Green Fryd is associate professor of art history at Vanderbilt University. She is the author of Marriage and Modernity: The Art and Lives of Edward Hopper and Georgia O'Keefe.
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The people who lived in what became the seventeenth state in the American Union in 1803 were not only at the center of a great empire, they were at the center of the most important historical developments in the revolutionary Atlantic World.
The United States Capitol is a national cultural icon, and among the most visually recognized seats of government in the world. The past quarter century has witnessed an explosion of scholarly interest in the art and architectural history of the Capitol. The emergence of the historic preservation movement and the maturation of the discipline of art conservation have refocused attention on the Capitol as the American “temple of liberty.”
Like the ancient Roman Pantheon, the U.S. Capitol was designed by its political and aesthetic arbiters to memorialize the virtues, events, and persons most representative of the nation's ideals—an attempt to raise a particular version of the nation's founding to the level of myth. American Pantheon examines the influences upon not only those virtues and persons selected for inclusion in the American pantheon, but also those excluded.