Art and Allegory: The Collection Grows

The Capitol continued its longstanding tradition of commissioning and buying artwork. The most significant addition was The Apotheosis of Democracy, a monumental sculptural group by Paul Wayland Bartlett placed in the House pediment in 1916.

To celebrate the Constitution’s 150th anniversary, Congress commissioned Howard Chandler Christy to paint a scene depicting the signing of the document. It was hung in the east grand stair of the House wing. The House of Representatives continued to acquire portraits of former Speakers, and the Senate commissioned vice presidential busts for its chamber. As the collection of state-donated statues in Statuary Hall grew to 65, its weight threatened to collapse the floor. In 1933, Congress authorized the display of some statues elsewhere in the building, distributing the collection—and its weight.

  • Joseph G. Cannon, by William T. Smedley, 1912

    The House of Representatives purchased this portrait of its former Speaker in 1917.

    Collection of the U.S. House of Representatives

  • Apotheosis of Democracy, by Paul Bartlett, 1916

    This sculptural group is located in the pediment over the entrance to the House wing.

    Architect of the Capitol

  • The Portrait Monument, by Adelaide Johnson, 1921

    Sculptures of Elizabeth Cady Stanton, Susan B. Anthony, and Lucretia Mott honor the pioneers of the woman's suffrage movement.

    Photograph © 1993 Fred J. Maroon

  • Vice President Calvin Coolidge, by Moses W. Dykaar, 1927

    Vice President Calvin Coolidge, by Moses W. Dykaar, 1927

    Collection of the U.S. Senate

  • Will Rogers, by Jo Davidson, 1938

    The statue of the famous humorist was given to the Statuary Hall collection by the State of Oklahoma.

    Architect of the Capitol

  • Scene at the Signing of the Constitution of the United States, by Howard Chandler Christy, 1940

    Scene at the Signing of the Constitution of the United States, by Howard Chandler Christy, 1940

    Architect of the Capitol

  • Portraits of former Speakers hang in the Speaker’s Lobby located behind the Hall of the House of Representatives.

    Portraits of former Speakers hang in the Speaker’s Lobby located behind the Hall of the House of Representatives.

    Photograph © 1993 Fred J. Maroon

  • Busts of early Vice Presidents occupy niches in the Senate Chamber.

    Busts of early Vice Presidents occupy niches in the Senate Chamber.

    Collection of the U.S. Senate; photo courtesy of the Architect of the Capitol