There’s still time to nominate local icons for Best of D.C.
Roman painter Constantino Brumidi dropped a decadelong career of plum ecclesiastical commissions to venture stateside in 1852, quickly landing a job painting committee rooms in the U.S. Capitol extension. But the flashy Italian style of this early work didn’t pass muster with the xenophobic congressional art commission charged with finding a mural painter for the Capitol’s dome: The politicos declared his propensity for cupid-and-garland motifshigh-art kitsch borrowed from fresco cycles at Pompeiithe art of “an effete and decayed race which in no way represents us.” So how did he get the job? The Know Nothing-dominated commission was dissolved in 1860, leaving Brumidi, with Capitol extension manager Montgomery Meigs’ blessing, to spend his next 20 years painting the building’s interior. Curator for the Architect of the U.S. Capitol Barbara A. Wolanin, who recently penned a chronicle of Brumidi, and Bureau of the City of Rome Director of Historical Villas and Parks Alberta Campitelli discuss the artist at 6:30 p.m. at the Italian Cultural Institute, 1717 Massachusetts Ave. NW, Suite 104. Free. For reservations call (202) 387-5161. (Jessica Dawson)