a vicious ignoble Indian who symbolizes the forces
of savagery, heathenism, and wilderness that must
be subdued for civilization's progress.
Although these artists remain rather obscure,
their sculptural achievements, with the exception
of Persico Discovery of America (in storage since 1958), are permanent records of the Italian presence in this country when American sculpture as
a profession had not yet begun. Through the work
for the Capitol, the Italian artists contributed to
the creation of a national iconography that narrates myths related to the country's history. Their
sculptures outlined the course of America's "civilization," from its discovery and settlement, a
theme on which American painters and sculptors
would expand, especially after the Capitol's expansion, which began in 1850.
Literature on the expatriate colony of the Anglo-
American artists in Italy is extensive. See, for example, M. F. Thorp, The Literary Sculptors, Durham, N.C., 1965; V. W. Brooks, The Dream of Arcadia: American
Writers and Artists in Italy, 1760-1915, New York, 1958; and S. E. Crane, White Silence: Greenough,
Pbuwrs, and Crawford, American Sculptors in Nineteenth-Century Italy, Coral Gables, Fla., 1972. Two recent dissertations on the American sculptors' artistic
creations and expatriate experiences in Italy are L. Dimmick
, "A Catalogue of the Portrait Busts and Ideal
Works of Thomas Crawford (1813?-1857), American
Sculptor in Rome," Ph.D. Diss., University of Pittsburgh, 1986, and J. S. Ramirez, "William Wetmore
Story: A Career in the Renaissance Spirit," Ph.D.
Diss., Boston University, 1984.
N. Hawthorne, The Marble Faun, or The Romance
of Monte Beni, New York and Toronto, 1981, vi.
The reasons behind the expatriation of the American sculptors to Italy are summarized in
W. H. Gerdts
, American Neo-Classic Sculpture: The Marble
Resurrection, New York, 1973, 16-19, and expanded
Ramirez (as in n. 1).
I have examined the evolution, iconography, and
Greenough "Washington in Horatio
Greenough's George Washington: A President in Apotheosis," The Augustan Age, Occasional Papers I, 1987, 70-86.
5. The other works created for the U. S. Capitol by
these sculptors are as follows: Capellano Fame and
Peace Crowning George Washington ( 1827, above the
central doorway on the east façade); Causici's and Capellano's reliefs of the discoverers John Cabot, Christopher Columbus, La Salle, and Sir Walter Raleigh
( 1824-1829, above some of the paintings in
the Rotunda); Causici Genius of the Constitution
( 1817- 1819, Old House of Representatives, now Statuary Hall); Persico Genius of America ( 1825- 1828,
central pediment on the east façade); and his War and
Peace ( 1829-1834, in the niches that flank the central
doorway on the east façade). For the iconography of
these works, see my "Sculpture as History: Themes of
Liberty, Unity, and Manifest Destiny," Ph.D. Diss., University of Wisconsin, 1984.
Causici's allegorical group in Statuary Hall is
entitled "Liberty and the Eagle" in twentieth-century
government publications on the art in the Capitol. See C. E. Fairman, Art and Artists of the Capitol of the
United States of America, Washington, D.C., 1927, 51-52, and Art in the United States Capitol, Washington, D.C., 1976, 279. My revision of the plaster cases
title from "Liberty and the Eagle" to "Genius of the
Constitution" derives from Irma Jaffe's observation
that the female figure lacks the traditional symbols
that would identify the allegory as "Libertas," and
from two nineteenth-century documents that identify
the statue as "Genius of the Constitution": Register of
Debates, 16th Congress, 2nd session, November, 1820, 457; and Records of the U. S. House of Representatives Reports of Committee on Public Buildings,
National Archives, H R 14 C B3.
Questia, a part of Gale, Cengage Learning. www.questia.com
Book title: The Italian Presence in American Art, 1760-1860.
Contributors: Irma B. Jaffe - Editor.
Publisher: Fordham University Press.
Place of publication: New York.
Publication year: 1989.
Page number: 145.
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