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Apotheosis of Democracy

Updated: Apr 15

NOTES FOR A DOCUMENTARY FILM | As I finalize the script for "The Italian Factor", I'm faced with the challenging task of selecting from the numerous remarkable public artworks crafted by the Piccirilli brothers. This process requires careful consideration, as each piece is exceptional in its own right. The richness of the Piccirilli brothers' contributions to public art adds to the complexity of this decision-making.

The Italian Factor by Eduardo Montes-Bradley
Apotheosis of Democracy

I find myself drawn to the pediments they created for iconic institutions such as the New York Stock Exchange, the US Supreme Court, and the House of Representatives. In making my choices, I've decided to prioritize exploring the relationship between the Italians and Paul Wayland Bartlett due to its profound and extensive nature. This decision, though somewhat arbitrary, reflects my desire to delve into this significant partnership.

For "The Apotheosis of Democracy," I've been fortunate to receive guidance from Michele Kohen, the Curator for Architect of the Capitol, which has shaped my approach to the subject.

The pediment atop the House of Representatives in the US Capitol, known as the "Apotheosis of Democracy," showcases an allegorical scene crafted by artist Paul Wayland Bartlett and brought to life at The Piccirilli Marble Carving Studio in New York, using marble sourced from Georgia.

At its center, the focal point is "Peace Protecting Genius," featuring a representation of Peace, a female figure adorned in armor, standing alongside Genius, symbolizing the protection of peace and the pursuit of knowledge and immortality.

The Italian Factor by Eduardo Montes-Bradley
Apotheosis of Democracy | Unveiling

Surrounding this central scene are depictions representing two pillars of wealth. On the left, Industry is depicted through figures such as a printer, ironworker, and textile spinner, among others. On the right, Agriculture is showcased with figures including a reaper, agriculturist, and harvesters.

Symbolizing the vast reach of American influence, waves at each end of the pediment represent the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans.

Paul Wayland Bartlett created the models for these figures in Paris and Washington, D.C., between 1911 and 1914. Carved from Georgia White marble by the Piccirilli Brothers from 1914 to 1916, the pediment spans 80 feet in length, with a height of approximately 12 feet at its center.

The plaster models used for the carving process were donated to the United States Government in 1963 by Mrs. Armistead Peter III, and they are now displayed in the Capitol terminal of the subway leading to the Rayburn House Office Building.

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