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Last week we wrote about Aung San Suu Kyi receiving her Congressional Gold Medal on September 19, four years after Congress awarded it in May 2008. In July of 2008, Congress awarded an unusual posthumous gold medal that was also presented this summer—to Constantino Brumidi, “the artist of the Capitol.”

The front of the Brumidi medal, designed by Don Everhart, is a portrait of the artist. (US Mint)

Brumidi’s “Cincinnatus” (AoC)

Brumidi, an Italian political refugee and artist trained in Rome, arrived in the US in 1852. He visited the Capitol in December 1854 and won a tryout from construction superintendent Capt. Montgomery Meigs: paint a fresco in a lunette in what would become the Committee on Agriculture’s room. Brumidi’s “Calling of Cincinnatus from the Plow” earned him the job of decorating the Capitol. He spent the rest of his life working on committee rooms, corridors, and the Rotunda. The Dome holds his most famous and iconic work, “The Apotheosis of Washington,” as well as the “Frieze of American History,” a fresco that mimics relief sculpture to depict key moments in American history, beginning with Columbus’ landing.

The back of the medal is inspired by Brumidi’s Apotheosis of George Washington. (US Mint)

Brumidi’s medal will be displayed in the Capitol Visitor Center, where you can see it before taking a tour and staring in amazement at Brumidi’s work.

Brumidi’s Apotheosis of George Washington (AoC)