|The Apotheosis of Washington|
|The Apotheosis of Washington in the eye of the Rotunda of the U.S. Capitol was painted in the true fresco technique by Constantino Brumidi in 1865. Brumidi (1805-1880) was born and trained in Rome and had painted in the Vatican and Roman palaces before emigrating to the United States in 1852. A master of creating the illusion of three-dimensional forms and figures on flat walls, Brumidi painted frescoes and murals throughout the Capitol from 1855 until his death. The canopy fresco, his most ambitious work at the Capitol, was painted in eleven months at the end of the Civil War, soon after the new dome was completed, for $40,000. Suspended 180 feet above the Rotunda floor, it covers an area of 4,664 square feet. The figures, up to 15 feet tall, were painted to be intelligible from close up as well as from 180 feet below. Some of the groups and figures were inspired by classical and Renaissance images, especially by those of the Italian master Raphael. |
Photographs of the inner dome and canopy (41k) and of the canopy fresco (42k) are available, as are photographs of individual groupings:
The fresco underwent a thorough cleaning and restoration in 1987-1988. Although fresco is a very durable medium, grime had accumulated on the surface of Brumidi's Apotheosis for over a century. In particular, the joints between the giornate, the sections of plaster, had darkened, creating disfiguring lines in the composition. Today, with the fresco completely cleaned and treated, the unified effect and soaring illusion of space intended by the artist can once again be seen.
Mystical Sites – U.S. Capitol
By VC September 10th, 2009
The US Capitol is not simply another governmental building. It is the spiritual center of the United States. Its structure, its art and its symbols all reveal the great importance of secret Fraternities in the shaping of the world most powerful government. We’ll explore the Capitol and discover the features that make this building a Masonic site, an American Temple of Solomon. The Capitol is viewed by the average American as the seat of democracy, where big political decisions are taken. Very few recognize the spiritual elements of the architecture and the symbolism of the building which literally makes it a temple of Masonic mysteries. At the center of it all is George Washington, a 33rd degree Freemason being anointed as the “American Christ”. The building of the Capitol involved many notions unknown to the common man yet the builders seemed to give great importance to them: alignment with heavenly bodies, importance of ley lines, occult numerology, spiritual energy, etc. Those things might sound like “crazy New Age stuff” to the average Joe not to the Founding Fathers who attributed great importance the them. The Capitol, like all Washington DC, has been almost entirely designed by Freemasons and integrates within its architecture and artwork the “keys to the Craft”. The United States Capitol, at Washington, D.C., was the creation of a succession of architects who were almost all Freemasons. Originally designed by William Thornton (1759-1828), the work was completed by Brother Benjamin Latrobe (a pupil of the English architect Samuel Pepys Cockerell, 1754-1827) who also redesigned it after the War of 1812. The flanking wings and the great dome were added later by Brother Thomas Ustick Walter.
The laying of the cornerstone by Washington in full Masonic attire
The cornerstone of the U.S. Capitol Building was laid with Masonic Honors on September 18, 1793 under the auspices of the Grand Lodge of Maryland. At the ceremony, President George Washington presided. Worshipful Brother Washington was assisted by R.W. Bro. Joseph Clarke, Grand Master pro. tem. of Maryland, Wor. Elisha C. Dick, Master of Alexandria Lodge No. 22 of Virginia (Washington’s home Lodge) and Wor. Valentine Reintzel, Master of Lodge No. 9 of Maryland (now Potomac Lodge No. 5 of the District of Colombia).
The Capitol facing the Washington Monument. Washington DC was carefully laid out in accordance to ancient occult principles. The Capitol is a vital part of the design by its location and its shape. The Capitol’s most important feature is of course its massive dome which carries heavy symbolic meaning, as we’ll see later. This dome faces the Washington Monument, the 555.5 foot tall (6666 inches) replica of an Egyptian obelisk. This layout is strikingly similar to St.Peter’s Square in the Vatican, where an obelisk faces a giant dome.
St.Peter Square, Vatican. An obelisk facing a dome.
The same layout can also be found in Paris, Astana and many other cities. There is no coincidence here: this layout carries an important alchemical meaning. In almost all cultures the dome has been associated with the female principle, the womb, the matrix. Opposed to it is the obelisk, the ancient Egyptian phallic symbol representing the male principle. The union of those two principles gives birth to a third entity, an offspring, that can be described as “spiritual energy”. Whether this energy is symbolic or a palpable reality is something that I’m not (yet) qualified to advance on. Many theories claim that shapes such as pyramids, domes and arches can either store, extract or diffuse energy from their surrounding area but I’ll leave this analysis to someone else. The theme of the union of male and female principles is very common in occult architecture and is surely the most easily recognizable.
Standing at top of the dome of the Capitol is the enigmatic Statue of Freedom standing on a spherical shape, which probably represent Earth. Around this globe is the saying “E Pluribus Unum” (Out of Many, One). She is a female allegorical figure whose right hand holds the hilt of a sheathed sword while a laurel wreath of victory and the Shield of the United States are clasped in her left hand. The heraldic shield is the same as in the Great Seal of the United States, with thirteen stripes, except that the chief has stars (again, thirteen). Her chiton is secured by a brooch inscribed “U.S.” and is partially covered by a heavy, Indian-style fringed blanket thrown over her left shoulder. She symbolically faces east towards the main entrance of the building which means that incidentally, the sun never sets on Freedom. So who is this Goddess standing on top of America’s most important building and overlooking the state Capital? She’s certainly not the Virgin Mary (you’d be surprised at the number of people who think that) and she cannot be positively associated with any ancient goddess. Truth is, the district bears her name. D.C. = District of Columbia. She is the allegorical goddess of America, the typically American mythological figure, Columbia.
The dome of the Capitol features in its occulus an incredibly significant painting that reveals the philosophical, spiritual and political aims of the Founding Fathers. Rare are the writers have discussed the gnostic, alchemical and esoteric meaning of this work, yet it has been visited by millions of tourists. The interesting book “Freedom’s Gate” written by William Henry and Mark Gray is the only work I’ve found analyzing the mystical meaning of this painting called “The Apotheosis”. “The Apotheosis” is the work of Constantino Brumidi, an Italian artist who became famous for his paintings commissioned by the Vatican and Pope Pius IX. In 1848, an attempt to overthrow papal power in the Vatican was led by Freemason Giuseppe Mazzini, which lead to a period of chaos and the fleeing of the Pope. The revolution wasn’t however successful and papal power was restored by a Europeen coalition. Surprisingly, Brumidi was arrested in and found guilty of leading one of Mazzini’s revolutionary groups to overthrow the Vatican. He served some of his sentence in prisons but was later permitted to leave Italy for the USA under the condition that he would never come back. He then made a name for himself in the USA by working for occult fraternities such as the Jesuits and such. Burmidi’s story is in perfect accordance with the Capitol’s status as the “Anti-Vatican” or the mirror, Mystery Religion opposite of the Vatican. Let’s look at Brumidi’s magnum opus, the Apotheosis. An apotheosis can be defined as the exaltation of a subject to divine level. In other words, this painting depicts the elevation of George Washington to a god-man status, like Jesus Christ. He is shown seated on a rainbow and behind him is the gateway, the vortex, the sungate to the heavens (the spirit world). As stated above, the dome esoterically represents the womb giver of life. Washington is about to exit the womb of the dome to experience rebirth as an immortal god. William Henry has appropriately noted that Jesus Christ’s divinity was portrayed in a similar way in ancient religious art.
The Apotheosis sends therefore a clear message: George Washington is the American Christ. This might sound blasphemous to the average Christian but it is in perfect harmony with the Masonic/Rosicrucian/Gnostic philosophy of the builders of the Capitol.
The esoteric teachings of those Orders explain that a spark of divinity lies dormant within each person. This inner-godliness can be awakened through rigorous intellectual and spiritual training and the mastering of occult arts. The result of a successful training is the birth of perfected man, a Christ, a god-man. Rosicrucians believe that Jesus Christ’s teachings, like Buddha’s, show the path to the spiritual reform that one must undertake to attain illumination. George Washington, as a 33rd degree Mason has reached this exalted level.