Most Beautiful Room

A site dedicated to the visual analysis of lost architecture and art

 
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Images and animations of the Capitol's South Wing, interior, 1803-1814

Jefferson wanted a glass roof on the South Wing, based on his dazzling memory of a 1785 visit to the Paris grain market with Maria Cosway. He
later wrote that the grain market was, "... the most superb thing on earth."
 
Architect Latrobe disagreed with his client on the roof design. To accommodate both the skylight scheme and his own idea for a light monitor
of vertical glass, he framed the roof for both eventualities.
 
An example of a computer model image showing main chamber looking west. Latrobe called the domical wooden roof a masterpiece of carpentry.
 
An example of a computer model image of the South Wing looking northeast.
 
Two images of computer model showing the Jefferson idea for the roof and the Latrobe idea for the roof. Jefferson's idea was designed and built and that's what was destroyed in 1814 when the building burned.
 
The monitor version from high up.
 
The skylight version from high up.
 
The monitor version upon entry.
 
The skylight version upon entry. Latrobe considered this tableau to be the crowning achievement of the whole chamber. The sculpture was organic to the effect - largely designed by Latrobe and carved by Giuseppe Franzoni.
 
Animation
looking north at monitor version of dawn to dusk sun tracking on the equinox.
 
Animation
looking north at skylight version of dawn to dusk sun tracking on the equinox.
 
The skylight version upon from the northeast.
 

Images and animations of the U.S. Capitol, exterior, 1803-1814

View from the northeast. This is how the Capitol may have looked approaching from the NE along Bladensburg Road, as the British army approached.
 
View from the southeast.
 
Detail showing texture-mapped computer model at the southeast corner of South Wing.
 
Animation
dissolve from the Capitol in 2014 to the Capitol in 1814 and then to 1801.
 
Animation
dissolve from the Capitol in 1801 to the 1801 drawing by William Birch.
 
Animation
walk-around of the east front of the Capitol, c. 1814. Dissolve from 1806 Latrobe drawing at start, and dissolve to the Munger drawing at close. Available at 1280x720 resolution.
 
Animation
of the topography of Capitol Hill as surveyed by B. Henry Latrobe. I translated Latrobe's site sections (using different vertical and horizontal scales) into traditional topography.
 
Animation
of the topography of Capitol Hill as designed by B. Henry Latrobe showing a ring road below the hill with the avenues intersecting at various angles.
 
View of the roof.
 
An 1802 Traveler's Guide map (to scale) showing the route from Bladensburg to the Capitol.
 
Animation
dissolve from a 1900 photograph from the Library of Congress to my computer recreation showing the state of the building in 1814.
 

Some sculpture, furniture, details, 1803-1814

Statue of Liberty, 1807-1814.
 
Statue of Liberty, 1807-1814.
 
Statue of Liberty, 1807-1814.
 
Statue of Liberty, 1807-1814.
 
Statue of Liberty, 1807-1814.
 
 
All content © 2017 Richard Chenoweth except as noted