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Γιά "να λέγονται τα πράγματα με τ' όνομά τους"
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CONSTANTINO BRUMIDI: BIOGRAPHY
Brumidi painted scores of frescoes in the United States Capitol. In
addition to "The Apotheosis of George Washington" which appears in the
Capitol dome in the Rotunda, Brumidi created artworks in the House of
Representatives Chamber, many committee rooms, the President's Room,
the Senate Reception Room, and throughout the corridors of the Capitol.
One cannot tour the United States Capitol without being inundated with
the work of Brumidi. The West Corridor of the Capitol has been termed
the "Brumidi Corridor." The influence of Constantino Brumidi's artistic
sensibilities on the artwork of the nation's Capitol are undisputed,
but definitive and scholarly treatments of Brumidi's life and work are
Brumidi was born in Italy in 1805. He grew up in Rome, and
studied at the Italian Academy of Arts. He showed his talent for fresco
painting at an early age and painted in several Roman palaces, among
them being that of Prince Torlonia. Under Gregory XVI he worked for
three years in the Vatican. The occupation of Rome by the French in
l849 apparently decided Brumidi to emigrate, and he sailed for the
United States, where he became naturalized in 1852. Taking up his
residence in New York City the artist painted a number of portraits.
Subsequently he undertook more important works, the principal being a
fresco of the Crucifixion in St. Stephen's Church, for which he also
executed a "Martyrdom of St. Stephen" and an "Assumption of the Virgin".
In 1854 Brumidi went to the city of Mexico, where he painted in the
cathedral as allegorical representation of the Holy Trinity. On his way
back to New York he stopped at Washington and visited the Capitol.
Impressed with the opportunity for decoration presented by its vast
interior wall spaces, he offered his services for that purpose to
Quartermaster- General Meigs. This offer was accepted, and about the
same time he was commissioned as a captain of cavalry. His first art
work in the Capitol was in the room of the House Cornmittee on
Agriculture. At first he received eight dollars a day, which Jefferson
Davis, then Secretary of War of the United States, caused to be
increased to ten dollars. His work attracting much favourable
attention, he was given further commisssons, and gradually settled into
the position of a Government painter.
Brumidi was a capable, if conventional painter, and his black and white
modelling in the work at Washington, in imitation of bas-relief, is
Brumidi devoted his time to numerous commissioned
frescoes, paintings, and sculpture in the Capitol building. The only
known quote from Brumidi has been preserved by American author Smith
Fry, who asserts that upon reaching America Brumidi said:
"I have no longer any desire for fame and fortune. My one ambition and
my daily prayer is that I may live long enough to make beautiful the
Capitol of the one country on earth in which there is liberty".
This quote may be inauthentic. Mr. Fry, the author of "Thrilling Story
of the Wonderful Capitol Building and Its Marvelous Contents" (1911)
and "Fry's Patriotic Story of the Capitol" (1911), provides no
In 1860, Brumidi married an American woman named Lola Germon.
There is no information on his first (Italian) marriage, but he did
keep in contact with a daughter, Elena, who remained in Rome.
On February 18, 1880, Constantino Brumidi died at his home in
Washington, D.C. Brumidi died in relative penury, but Congressional
records indicate that he was well-paid. Originally, his salary was
pegged to the annual salaries awarded to United States Congressmen, but
this was eventually changed to a per diem ranging from eight to ten
dollars. The largest work commissioned, "The Apotheosis of George
Washington," was contracted for a lump sum of $40,000. Brumidi received
all but the $500 reserved for completion of the project.
Brumidi's reputation waxed and waned, both during and after his
lifetime. For almost one hundred years after his death, his grave in
Washington was unmarked and unadorned. Little notice was made of the
artist of the Capitol frescoes. The public's limited awareness of the
existence of Brumidi was expanded by a conscious resurrection of his
reputation in the 1950's by Myrtle Cheney Murdock.
In 1966 the U.S. Congress authorized the creation of a portrait bust
honoring Constantino Brumidi that would be displayed in the Brumidi
Corridors. The legislation was spurred in part by renewed appreciation
of Brumidi following publication of a biography on him written by
Myrtle Cheney Murdock, the wife of an Arizona congressman. Sculptor
JIMILU mason was awarded the commission in early 1967; she based her
likeness of Brumidi on photographs taken during his life. The Joint
Committee approved the plaster model, and the image was translated into
Carrara marble in Pietrasanta, Italy. JIMILU's bust of Brumidi was
unveiled in the Capitol Rotunda in 1968 at dedication ceremonies
attended by Congressional leaders and the ambassadors of Italy and
η μετάδοση-αναδημοσίευση του περιεχόμενου του "Καλαμιού",
όταν αναφέρεται τ' όνομά του, με την ένδειξη
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