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G.W. Peters, artist. Congressional Library
G.W. Peters, artist. Congressional Library. Watercolor and graphite, ca. 1897.
http://hdl.loc.gov/loc.pnp/ppmsca.09898

Library of Congress Thomas Jefferson Building: Art and Architecture

Prints & Photographs Division Holdings

This guide offers overviews of resources and search strategies for research on the art and architecture of the Library of Congress Thomas Jefferson Building.

The building, constructed between 1888 and 1897, houses murals and mosaics designed by a number of artists and featuring a variety of allegorical figures and references to classical mythology.


Carol M. Highsmith, photographer. Great Hall. View from the second floor west corridor
Carol M. Highsmith, photographer. Great Hall. View from the second floor west corridor. Digital photograph, 2007.
http://hdl.loc.gov/loc.pnp/highsm.01968

Pathfinder

Background Information on the Thomas Jefferson Building

A quick source to start with is The Thomas Jefferson Building: A Virtual Tour of the Library of Congress (http://www.loc.gov/jefftour/).

The best source for in-depth information is: The Library of Congress: The Art and Architecture of the Thomas Jefferson Building. Edited by John Y. Cole and Henry Hope Reed. New York: Norton, 1997. LC Call Number: Z733.U6 L55 1997.

Chapters include information on the planning for the building, the architectural competition that resulted in its design, the construction process, and the symbolism embodied in the building. It includes a chapter that consists of the text of the Handbook of the New Library of Congress in Washington compiled by Herbert Small in 1897, accompanied by more recent color photographs.

Locating artworks by artist

Locating artworks by title

  • Carol M. Highsmith Archive - Online descriptions available through the Prints & Photographs Online Catalog (PPOC) include the title of the mural or mosaic in the title field [view collection information with link to search].
  • John Y. Cole and Henry Hope Reed, eds. The Library of Congress: The Art and Architecture of the Thomas Jefferson Building. New York: Norton, 1997. LC Call Number: Z733.U6 L55 1997. The index includes some titles but is not comprehensive. Permalink: http://lccn.loc.gov/97042115

Locating artworks by location in the building

  • Carol M. Highsmith Archive - Online descriptions available through the Prints & Photographs Online Catalog (PPOC) include the location within the building in the title field [view collection information with link to search].
  • Handbook of the New Library of Congress in Washington. Compiled by Herbert Small. Boston, Curtis & Cameron, 1897. Text is organized by building location. Available as a searchable PDF file (http://hdl.loc.gov/loc.gdc/scd0001.20056413001ha.1) [PDF file - 60 mb], LC Permalink: http://lccn.loc.gov/08032518
  • John Y. Cole and Henry Hope Reed, eds. The Library of Congress: The Art and Architecture of the Thomas Jefferson Building. New York: Norton, 1997. LC Call Number: Z733.U6 L55 1997. Appendices include models and floor plans. Permalink: http://lccn.loc.gov/97042115

Carol M. Highsmith, photographer. Main Reading Room. Interior of dome
Carol M. Highsmith, photographer. Main Reading Room. Interior of dome. Digital photograph, 2007.
http://hdl.loc.gov/loc.pnp/highsm.02067

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Resources

Pictorial Materials in the Prints & Photographs Division

Carol M. Highsmith Archive

Thanks to photographer Carol M. Highsmith, the Library of Congress has rights-free images documenting the post-restoration art and architecture of the Thomas Jefferson Building taken since 1997.

Scope: The images include aerial photographs, street views, exterior and interior sculpture, rooms, doors, the Great Hall with its grand staircases, the Main Reading Room (interior of dome, frieze, murals, and statues), mantels and decoration in the Members Room, and close views of murals in the corridors. There is also coverage of the interior and exterior sculpture of the Jefferson Building, including the bronze main entrance doors and the Neptune fountain.

The photographs include more than 100 images of the murals in the Thomas Jefferson Building. Mural artists include:

  • John White Alexander (1856-1915)
  • George Randolph Barse (1861-1938)
  • Frank Weston Benson (1862-1951)
  • Kenyon Cox (1856-1919)
  • Frederick Dielman (1847-1935)
  • William De Leftwich Dodge (1867-1935)
  • Carl Gutherz (1844-1907)
  • Edward J. Holslag (1870-1925)
  • Walter MacEwen (spelled as "McEwen" in some sources) (1860-1943)
  • George Willoughby Maynard (1878-1934)
  • Gari Melchers (1860-1932)
  • Charles Sprague Pearce (1851-1914)
  • Robert Reid (1862-1929)
  • Edward Simmons (1852-1931)
  • Walter Shirlaw (1838-1929)
  • Elihu Vedder (1836-1923)
  • Henry Oliver Walker (1834-1929)

More than 100 images of the sculpture of the Thomas Jefferson Building are also included. Portrait and allegorical statues, busts, friezes, circular reliefs, bas reliefs, oak tympanums, and staircase figures are part of the interior decoration. The entrance doors, entrance porch, keystone ethnological heads, and the Neptune fountain are featured in the exterior decoration. Sculptors include:

  • Paul Wayland Bartlett (1865-1925)
  • Daniel Chester French (1855-1935)
  • Frederick MacMonnies (1863-1937)
  • Philip Martiny (1858-1927)
  • Charles H. Niehaus (1855-1935)
  • Roland Hinton Perry (1870-1941)
  • Bela Lyon Pratt (1867-1917)
  • Olin L. Warner (1844-1896)

Access: Highsmith's images can be found on many pages of the Library of Congress Web site. For searchable access, use the Prints & Photographs Online Catalog, which has digital images for:

  • LOT 13860 - 428 color digital photographs of the Jefferson Building. Highsmith took most of these photographs in 2007. [view images and descriptions]
  • LOT 13558 - Two color photograph street views of the Thomas Jefferson Building for Highsmith's D.C. Block Study. [view images and descriptions]
The Highsmith Archive also includes images of the: Rights: View the rights information page at http://www.loc.gov/rr/print/res/482_high.html

Theodor Horydczak Collection

Scope: More than forty views of the Jefferson Building (and additional views of the John Adams Building), 1920s-1950s. Some are color. All have been digitized. [view images and descriptions relating to the Jefferson Building]
Access: Use digital images.
Rights: View the rights information page at: http://www.loc.gov/rr/print/res/100_hory.html
Note: For images of the Jefferson Building, the client would likely have been the U.S. government.


Perry Huston Collection - "Illustrated Conservation Reports for the Jefferson Building Murals"

Scope: 5,000 items, including 500 color photos and 500 color slides, from 1985-1994. Perry C. Huston of Fort Worth, Texas, documented the murals prior, during, and after their restoration. The images are notable for close views of the murals. Includes murals by William Brantley Van Ingen, Elmer Ellsworth Garnsey, and William De Leftwich Dodge in the Northeast and Southeast pavilions.
Access: Call number: PR 13 CN 2001:119 (Please allow fourteen days advance notice to view materials. For information on requesting access, see http://www.loc.gov/rr/print/info/022_unpr.html). Some of the photographs have been digitized [view images and descriptions]
Rights: Perry Huston made the photographs for the Library of Congress, and gave them to the Library. There are no known restrictions on publication. The post-conservation 8x10 inch photographs are marked "property of the Architect of the Capitol" (see Architect of the Capitol rights and restrictions information).


Library of Congress, Washington, D.C.: Its Principal Architectural and Decorative Features in the Colors of the Originals. Howard Grey Douglas, 1901.

Scope: 23 color halftone photomechanical prints mounted as plates on dark green paper. Plates consist of:

  • Cover: Ganymede mural by Henry O. Walker
  • 1. Bird’s-eye view of Thomas Jefferson Building, Library of Congress
  • 2. Great Hall
  • 3. South Hall, entrance pavilion
  • 4-5. Murals by C.S. Pearce:
    • 4. Religion
    • 5. Labor
  • 6-7. Murals by Edward Simmons:
    • 6. Melpomene
    • 7. Erato
  • 8-10. Murals by John W. Alexander:
    • 8. The Evolution of the book: The Printing Press
    • 9. The Evolution of the book: The Manuscript Book
    • 10. The Evolution of the book: Oral Tradition
  • 11-15. Murals in Lyric Poetry series by Henry O. Walker:
    • 11. Lyric Poetry mural
    • 12. Adonis
    • 13. Endymion
    • 14. The Boy of Winander
    • 15. Uriel
  • 16-17. Mosaics by Frederick Dielman:
    • 16. Law mosaic, close view
    • 17. History mosaic set in fireplace
  • 18. Great Hall staircase.
  • 19. Patriotism panel by George Maynard (second floor)
  • 20. Second story, central stair hall.
  • 21. Pictograph mural by John W. Alexander
  • 22. Minerva mosaic by Elihu Vedder

Access: Request by call number: LOT 10657 [view description of the publication]. Selected images for which copy photos exist are available online [view images and descriptions]
Rights: No known restrictions on publication. (Individual plates give copyright dates of 1896 and 1899. Copyright has expired.)


The Library of Congress mural paintings in the colors of the originals. New York: B.S. Reynolds Co., 1902

Scope: 32 color photomechanical prints (plates). "The plates are from colorings by Miss A.V. Nye, directly from the original paintings." Consists of:

  • Cover: Muse of Lyric Poetry.
  • 1. Bird’s eye view of Thomas Jefferson Building.
  • 2-8, Lyric Poetry series by Henry O. Walker:
    • 2. Muse of Lyric Poetry
    • 3. Ganymede
    • 4. Endymion
    • 5. Boy of Winander
    • 6. Adonis
    • 7. Comus
    • 8. Uriel
  • 9-10, Muses series by Edward Simmons:
    • 9. Melpomene
    • 10. Calliope
  • 11-16. The Evolution of the Book series by John W. Alexander:
    • 11. The Cairn
    • 12. Oral Tradition
    • 13. The Hieroglyphic
    • 14. The Pictograph
    • 15. The Manuscript
    • 16. The Printing Press
  • 17. Stairway of the Entrance Pavilion
  • 18. Minerva of Peace mosaic by Elihu Vedder
  • 19-20. The Occupations of the Day series by C.S. Pearce:
    • 19. Religion
    • 20. Labor
  • 21-22: The Mosaic Mantels by Frederick Dielman:
    • 21. History
    • 22. Law
  • 23-31, The Greek Heroes series by Walter MacEwen:
    • 23. Hercules
    • 24. Prometheus
    • 25. Orpheus
    • 26. Perseus
    • 27. Theseus
    • 28. Bellerophon
    • 29. Achilles
    • 30. Jason
    • 31. Paris
  • 32. Entrance pavilion, columns of the Grand Stair Hall

Access: Request by call number: Z733 .U58 L51 1902 (P&P Case X) [view description of the publication]
Rights: No known restrictions on publication. (Copyright has expired.)


Levin C. Handy , photographer. Construction of the Library of Congress, Washington, D.C., May 10, 1893
Levin C. Handy , photographer. Construction of the Library of Congress, Washington, D.C., May 10, 1893. Photographic print, 1893.
http://hdl.loc.gov/loc.pnp/pan.6a36223

Prints & Photographs Online Catalog

  • Search for phrase: Jefferson Building

    Retrieves more than one thousand images, including some already mentioned above. Most are black-and-white. Includes photographs and drawings, interiors and exteriors [view descriptions and images]. Of particular interest: Study drawings in the DRWG/US Collection showing figures used in murals (many by Elihu Vedder); some have been digitized [view descriptions and images].

  • Search for phrase: Congressional Library

    Retrieves images from the late 1800s to early 1900s when the Jefferson Building was more commonly known as the Congressional Library, including many drawings by architects Smithmeyer & Pelz (most not digitized or individually cited), National Photo Company collection negatives, stereographs, a few book illustrations, and related photographs [view descriptions and images].

Access: Descriptions are online. Some records describe groups, rather than individual images. For items that are digitized, some will display only in small size when searching from off site.
Rights: Vary.


U.S. Geographical File - Washington, D.C. (also known as "Washingtoniana File")

Scope: Some photos not represented in the online catalog can be found under the heading "Library of Congress - Jefferson Building." Includes sections for interiors, exteriors, construction, particular reading rooms, etc. Murals are filed under "Washington (D.C.) -- Library of Congress -- Jefferson Building -- Interior -- Murals & Paintings," arranged by the name of the artist.
Access: Self-service file in the Prints & Photographs Reading Room
Rights: Vary.

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Library of Congress Web Site with Links to Online Images

Thomas Jefferson Building tours
(http://www.loc.gov/visit/tours/guided/jeffersonbuilding.html )

Includes an online tour, a virtual tour app, and information regarding tours for on-site visitors. The online tour includes the Librarian's Room, and the Members of Congress Room, the exterior, the three floors with their decorative art, and links to floor plans at the Maps and Floor Plans pages. (These images are not included in the Prints & Photographs Online Catalog.)

Jefferson's Legacy: A Brief History of the Library of Congress
(http://www.loc.gov/loc/legacy/)

A Web-based version of Jefferson's Legacy: A Brief History of the Library of Congress by John Y. Cole. Washington : Library of Congress, 1993. LC Call Number: Z733 .U6 C567 1993.

A list of images (concordance) available at: http://www.loc.gov/loc/legacy/concord.html . The list includes "The Great Hall" and "The Jefferson Building," and several more images under "The Buildings." Includes photographs by Library of Congress staff for which there are no known restrictions:

On These Walls: Inscriptions and Quotations in the Buildings of the Library of Congress
(http://www.loc.gov/loc/walls/jeff2.html)

A Web-based version of: On These Walls: Inscriptions and Quotations in the Buildings of the Library of Congress by John Y. Cole; photographs by Carol M. Highsmith. Washington, DC : Library of Congress ; New York : Scala Publishers, 2008. LC Call number: Z733.U6 C59 2008

Describes the wall inscriptions and decorations in the building. List of images (concordance) available at: http://www.loc.gov/loc/walls/concord.html

Smithmeyer & Pelz, architect. "Congressional Library Building." Interior, marble arches and columns
Howard Sill, draftsman. . "Congressional Library Building." Interior, marble arches and columns. Watercolor, ink, graphite, and gouache, 1893.
http://hdl.loc.gov/loc.pnp/ppmsca.13515

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Select Bibliography

The Library of Congress Main Reading Room maintains a bibliography of sources of information on the Library of Congress as a whole: http://www.loc.gov/rr/main/gopher/aboutlc.html

The following sources are particularly helpful for studying the Jefferson Building's art and architecture.

Billington, James H. “The Library of Congress Celebrates the 100th Anniversary of the Thomas Jefferson Building 1897-1997,” Civilization Commemorative Issue (1997): 3-13. LC Call Number: AS30 .C48

Bisbort, Alan, and Linda Barrett Osborne. The Nation’s Library: The Library of Congress, Washington, D.C. Washington, DC: Library of Congress in association with Scala Publishers, 2000. LC Call Number: Z733.U6 L45 2000
LC Permalink: http://lccn.loc.gov/00024286

Brousseau, Frances M. "The Library of Congress, 1873‑1897; The Building, its Architects, and the Politics of Nineteenth‑century Architectural Practice," (Ph.D. diss., University of Delaware, 1999).

Cole, John Y. "The Main Building of the Library of Congress: A Chronology, 1871‑1965;" The Quarterly Journal of the Library of Congress 29 (October 1972). LC Call Number: Z663 .A5
LC Permalink: http://lccn.loc.gov/44040782

Cole, John Y. On These Walls: Inscriptions and Quotations in the Buildings of the Library of Congress. Washington, DC: The Library, 1995. LC Call Number: Z733.U6 C59 1995
LC Permalink: http://lccn.loc.gov/94024275

Cole, John Y. On These Walls: Inscriptions and Quotations in the Buildings of the Library of Congress. New York: Scala Publishers, 2008. Carol M. Highsmith, photographer. LC Call Number: Z733 .O5 2008
LC Permalink: http://lccn.loc.gov/2007051744

Cole, John Y., and Henry Hope Reed, eds. The Library of Congress: The Art and Architecture of the Thomas Jefferson Building. 1st ed. New York: Norton, 1997. LC Call Number: Z733.U6 L55 1997
LC Permalink: http://lccn.loc.gov/97042115

Conaway, James. America’s Library: The Story of the Library of Congress, 1800-2000. New Haven: Yale University Press in association with the Library of Congress, 2000. LC Call Number: Z733.U6 C595 2000
LC Permalink: http://lccn.loc.gov/99058751

Elson, Beverly Lynn. "The Library of Congress: A Merger of American Functionalism and Cosmopolitan Eclecticism," Ph.D. diss., University of Maryland, 1981.

Highsmith, Carol M. and Ted Landphair. The Library of Congress: America’s Memory. Golden, CO: Fulcrum Pub., 1994. LC Call Number: Z733.U6 H54 1994
LC Permalink: http://lccn.loc.gov/94019914

Hilker, Helen-Anne. Ten First Street, Southeast: Congress Builds a Library, 1886-1897: An Exhibition in the Great Hall and on the Second Floor of the Thomas Jefferson Building, Library of Congress from December 23, 1980 to December 7, 1981. 2nd ed. Washington, DC: Library of Congress, 1982. LC Call Number: Z679.2.U54 H54 1982
LC Permalink: http://lccn.loc.gov/81607983

Hilker, Helen-Anne. "Monument to Civilization: Diary of a Building," The Quarterly Journal of the Library of Congress 29 (October 1972). LC Call Number: Z663 .A5
LC Permalink: http://lccn.loc.gov/44040782

The Library of Congress: An Architectural Alphabet. San Francisco, CA: Pomegranate, 2000. LC Call Number: Z722.U6L54 2000
LC Permalink: http://lccn.loc.gov/99050105

The Library of Congress Mural Paintings in the Colors of the Originals, With the Library Quotations, the Poems of the Poetry Series, and the Greek Hero Myths. New York, Washington: Foster & Reynolds, [1902]. LC Call Number: Z733.U58 L51
LC Permalink: http://lccn.loc.gov/02024350

Maier, Kurt Salomon. The Library of Congress: A Tour in Words and Pictures. New York: Gramercy Books, 2000. LC Call Number: Z733.U6 M187 2000
LC Permalink: http://lccn.loc.gov/00038654

Marshall, Blaine, and Alexander Hovan. The Thomas Jefferson Building, the Library of Congress. Washington, DC: Library of Congress, 2003. LC Call Number: Z733 .T44 2003
LC Permalink: http://lccn.loc.gov/2004438215

Nelson, Josephus, and Farley, Judith. Full Circle : Ninety Years of Service in the Main Reading Room Washington : Library of Congress : For sale by the Supt. Of Documents, U.S. G.P.O., 1991. LC Call Number: Z733.U6 N37 1991
LC Permalink: http://lccn.loc.gov/91014571

Peatross, C. Ford. "Washington, From L'Enfant's Dream to Edge City", in Capital Drawings: Architectural Designs for Washington, D.C., from the Library of Congress, 1-58. Baltimore; Washington, D.C.: The Johns Hopkins University Press in association with the Library of Congress, 2005.  LC Call Number: NA2695.U6 L533 2005
LC Permalink: http://lccn.loc.gov/2004025490

Peatross, C. Ford. "Smithmeyer & Pelz," in Macmillan Encyclopedia of Architecture, 4, New York: The Free Press, 1982. LC Call Number: NA40 .M25 1982
LC Permalink: http://lccn.loc.gov/82017256

Sheridan, Genevieve R. "The Art and Architecture of the Library of Congress." Ph.D diss., The George Washington University, 1977. Dissertation Abstracts International Publication Number AAT 7801101.

Small, Herbert, comp. Handbook of the New Library of Congress in Washington. With essays on the architecture, sculpture and painting by Charles Caffin, and on the function of a national library by Ainsworth R. Spofford. Boston MA: Cameron & Curtis, 1897. LC Call Number: Z733 .U58 S63
http://lcweb2.loc.gov/service/gdc/scd0001/2005/20056413001ha/20056413001ha.pdf [PDF file - 60 mb]
LC Permlink: http://lccn.loc.gov/08032518

Small, Herbert. The Library of Congress, Its Architecture and Decoration. Edited by Henry Hope Reed; foreword by Daniel J. Boorstin. New York: Norton, 1982. New edition of Handbook, 1901. LC Call Number: Z733.U6 S6 1982.
LC Permalink: http://lccn.loc.gov/82014199

Smithmeyer, John L. History of the Construction of the Library of Congress, Washington, D.C. Washington, DC: Beresford, printer, 1906. LC Call Number: Z733.U58 S682
LC Permalink: http://lccn.loc.gov/44014434

Walter, Emily L. A Complete Collection of the Quotations and Inscriptions in the Library of Congress. 3rd ed. Baltimore: W.J. Gallery & Co., 1899. LC Call Number: Z733 .U59 W2 1899
http://lcweb2.loc.gov/service/gdc/scd0001/2007/20070813003co/20070813003co.pdf [PDF - 569 kb]
LC Permalink: http://lccn.loc.gov/05035444

Wolanin, Barbara A. "Restoration of the Thomas Jefferson Building Murals," presentation given Nov. 11, 2006. 44 minutes. http://www.loc.gov/today/cyberlc/feature_wdesc.php?rec=4255


Prepared by: Marilyn Ibach, Reference Specialist. Created: 7/2009
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