United States Capitol, Washington, D.C.: East Front Elevation, Rendering


Construction of the Capitol, the building that houses the U.S. Congress, began in 1793 and was largely completed by 1865, when the Capitol’s second dome was finished. The principal architects were William Thornton (1759-1828), B. Henry Latrobe (1764-1820), Charles Bulfinch (1763-1844), and Thomas Ustick Walter (1804-87). This elevation by Alexander Jackson Davis (1803-92), rendered in ink, watercolor, and wash, shows the east front of the Capitol as it appeared in 1834. After studying at the American Academy of Fine Arts in New York, Davis began his career as an architectural illustrator. This rendering was intended for a publication, that he never completed, on the nation’s public buildings. In the late 1820s, Davis became an architect in his own right, completing his first design, for a Greek Revival house in New Haven, Connecticut, in 1829-31, and joining the new firm of Town & Davis, with Ithiel Town (1784-1844). Davis went on to design a variety of building types, including the state houses in North Carolina, Indiana, Illinois, and Ohio, large institutions, and country houses and estates. One of the master draftsmen of his time, he continued to produce superb illustrations throughout his career, including those for such influential publications as Rural Residences (1838), Cottage Residences (1842), and The Architecture of Country Houses (1850).

Last updated: May 24, 2017