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carved to represent a scroll, the ancient form of book.
A vase, copied from the manufacture of the Zuni
Indians of New Mexico, stands beside her. In her
right hand she holds a large book, the pages of which
she examines with the aid of a magnifying glass in
order to spell out its half obliterated text. Around
her neck is coiled a chameleon, whose changing hues
are intended to symbolize the varying nature of the
theories she propounds.

The countenance of Botany is expressive of a joyous
sympathy with nature. She stands on the pad of a
water-lily, engaged in analyzing its flower, the long
stem of which coils gracefully about her body to the
water. Her drapery flows and breaks as a half-opened
flower might arrange itself.

Astronomy holds a lens, such as is used in a telescope,
in her right hand, and in her left the globe of Saturn
surrounded by its rings selected as being perhaps the
best known and most easily distinguished of all the
planets. She stands on the sphere of the earth, beyond
which, to the left, is the quarter moon. The lines of her drapery with their slow
curves are suggestive, in a way, of the orbits of the heavenly bodies. They
flow in long lines, enveloping her figure in the strength which proceeds from
complete harmony.

Chemistry is shown with her left foot placed upon a piece of chemical ap-
paratus and holding in her right hand a glass retort, in which she is distilling a
liquid. The necessary heat, manifested by the ascending vapor which curls
about the vessel, is from the mouth of the serpent the emblem of fecundity
and life, breathing the element of life, fire. The serpent is coiled about aa
hour-glass, which is significant of the exact measurement of time necessary in
chemical experiments. The face of the figure is more worn, on account of the
anxious nature of her employment, than would comport with the character of




an out-of-door science like Botany or Zoology. She is draped somewhat in the
eastern manner, like a sibyl, thus recalling the occult character ascribed to the
science during the Middle Ages when it was called alchemy and, for that
matter, the marvellousness of its results in the laboratories of to-day. A snake
wound as a fillet about her hair still further emphasizes this mystic quality.

At either end of the corridor is a tablet bearing a list of names of men
distinguished in the sciences which Mr. Shirlaw has depicted; at the north
end : Cuvier, the Zoologist ; Linnaeus, the Botanist ; Schliemann, the Archae-
ologist ; and Copernicus, the Astronomer ; at the south end : La Grange, the
Mathematician; Lavoisier, the Chemist; Rumford, the Physicist; and Lyell,
the Geologist. In the penetrations on either side of these two lists of names
are the following appropriate inscriptions :

The first creature of God was the light of sense ; the last was the light of reason.

The Light shine th in darkness, and the darkness comprehendeth not.

John 1,5.

All are but parts of one stupendous whole,
Whose body Nature is, and God the soul.

In nature all is useful, all is beautiful.


Along the centre of the vault, three
medallions by Mr. William B. Van Ingen
represent respectively Sculpture, Archi-
tecture, and Painting. In each the art is
represented by a female figure engaged
either in chiselling the features of a bust
(that of Washington), drawing the plan
of a building, or painting at an easel.

Mr. Reid's Paintings. Passing
to the North Corridor, the attention is

TOUCH. BY ROBERT REID. at once attracted to the brilliant coloring

of Mr. Reid's decorations in the vault

and along the north wall. The former are five in number, and represent
the Five Senses. They are octagonal in form, measuring within an inch of six
feet and a half across. The order of the subjects, beginning at the westerly
end, is Taste, Sight, Smell, Hearing, Touch. In each the sense suggested is
represented by a beautiful young woman, more of the modern than the antique
type of beauty, and clad in drapery which recalls contemporary fashions rather
than the classic conventions which are usually followed by artists in their treat-
ment of ideal subjects. Being painted upon a ceiling, so that the visitor is re-
quired to look directly upward in order to study them, the figures, though, in a
sense, represented as seated, are rather to be imagined as poised in the air,
without any special reference to the law of gravitation. They are shown as
supported upon cloud-banks, and the backgrounds of the panels are sky and

The suggestion of the subject is as simply as it is ingeniously and unconven-
tionally conveyed. A large portion of this suggestion must be looked for, of
course, in the expression of the face and the attitude as well as in the action
of the figures. Taste is shown drinking from a shell. She is surrounded by


foliage, and a vine grows beside her laden with bunches of ripe grapes. She
wears flowers in her hair, and the idea throughout may perhaps be taken as
that of the autumnal feast of the wine-press. Sight is looking at her reflection
in a handglass, and smiling with pleasure at the evidence of her beauty. A
splendid peacock, the emblem of beauty and pride in beauty, is introduced be-
side her. Smell is represented seated beside a bank of lilies and roses. From
this mass of flowers she has selected a great white rose, which she presses to
her nose. Hearing holds a large sea-shell to her ear, and dreamily listens to
its roaring. Touch is delightedly observing a butterfly which has alighted on
her bare outstretched arm the touch of its tiny feet as it walks over her flesh
imparting an unaccustomed sensation to her nerves. A setter dog, which she
has just ceased from caressing, lies asleep behind her.

Mr. Reid's subjects in the four circular panels along the wall are entitled,
in order from left to right : Wisdom, Understanding, Knowledge, and Philos-
ophy. Each is represented by a half-length seated female figure more sol-
idly painted, but of much the same type as the figures representing The Senses
holding a scroll, book, or tablet. In
the panel of Philosophy, a Greek tem-
ple is seen in the background, emblem-
atic of the Greek origin of philosophy.

Alternating with Mr. Reid's ceiling
paintings, is a series of rectangular
panels, in which are depicted, in low
tones of color and in a style somewhat
suggestive of a classic bas-relief, a num-
ber of ancient out-door athletic con-
tests. Beginning at the west end of the
vault, the first of these represents a
group of young men throwing the discus.
Then come Wrestling and Running.
In the fourth panel, the athletes are
being rubbed down by attendants, to clear
them of the sweat and heat of the con-
flict; and in the fifth, the successful
contestants are kneeling to receive the crown of victory at the hands of a
woman seated on a dais. The last picture represents the return home, a trip-
ping company of youths and maidens crowned with garlands.

The visitor will remember what was said concerning the special enrichment
of the penetrations in the side corridors for the sake of compensating in a way
for the absence of such decorations as Mr. Shirlaw's in the pendentives. In
the present instance, this enrichment takes the form of dragons and swans,
which serve as " supporters " of the panels containing the printers' marks.

In the pendentives, tablets for inscriptions alternate with medallions con-
taining trophies of various trades and sciences. The list of the latter, begin-
ning at the left over the north wall, is as follows : Geometry, represented by a
compass, a protractor, and a scroll, cone, and cylinder ; Meteorology, the baro-
meter, thermometer, and anemometer ; Forestry, a growing tree, and an axe and
pruning- knife ; Navigation, the chronometer, log, rope, rudder, and compass ;
Mechanics, the lever, wedge, and pulley-block ; and Transportation, with a pis-
ton, propeller, driving-wheel, and locomotive head-light.



The inscriptions are from Adelaide A. Procter's poem, Unexpressed, and
are as follows :

Dwells within the soul of every Artist
More than all his effort can express.

No great Thinker ever lived and taught yo
All the wonder that his soul received.

No true painter ever set on canvas
All the glorious vision he conceived.

No musician ....

But be sure he heard, and strove to render,

Feeble echoes of celestial strains.

Love and Art united

Are twin mysteries, different yet the same.

Love may strive, but vain is the endeavor
All its boundless riches to unfold.

Art and Love speak ; and their words must be
Like sighings of illimitable forests.

The only other decoration which there is space to mention is the broad,
semicircular border which follows the line of the vault on the wall at either end
of the corridor. At the east end, this border is ornamented with a bright-
colored arabesque, mainly in violet and greens, with a medallion in the centre
bearing a map of the Western Hemisphere. At the west end, the border is
plainer, with five semicircular or circular tablets, two of which are ornamented
with the obverse and reverse respectively of the Great Seal of the United States.
The other three carry the following inscriptions :

Order is Heaven's first law.


Memory is the treasurer and guardian of all things .


Beauty is the creator of the universe .


Mr. Barse's Paintings. In the East Corridor, the pendentive figures
of Mr. Barse represent, beginning on the east side, at the north end : Lyric
Poetry (entitled by the artist, Lyrica), Tragedy, Comedy, and History ; and on
the west, again beginning at the north, Love Poetry (Erotica), Tradition,
Fancy, and Romance. The subject of the entire series, therefore, may be
called simply Literature. The figures, as the visitor will perceive, need but
little explanation. All are those of women clad in graceful, classic robes, rep-
resented throughout as seated, and depicted with little attempt at dramatic
expression or action. Lyric Poetry is playing on the lyre. Tragedy and Com-
edy have a tragic and comic mask respectively, and Comedy a tambourine.


History has a scroll and palm-branch, and an ancient book-box for scrolls, such
as was used by the Romans, is set at her feet. Romance has a pen and a scroll.
Fancy clasps her hands, and gazes upward with a rapt expression on her face.
Tradition wears the ^gis, and holds a statue of the winged goddess of Victory
in her hand both introduced as symbols of antiquity. Erotica is writing on
a tablet.

Along the centre of the vault, occupying a similar position to the medallions
in the opposite corridor, is another series of three paintings, executed by Mr.
William A. Mackay, which represent The Life of Man. One will best under-
stand the meaning of the paintings by first reading the inscriptions which are
placed immediately above and below each medallion. On one side they refer
to the ancient allegory of the Three Fates, Clotho, Lachesis, and Atropos
the first of whom spun, the second wove, and the third cut, the Thread of
Life and are as follows :

For a web begun God sends thread.

Old Proverb.

The web of life . . . is of a mingled yarn, good and ill together.

Airs Well that Ends Well.

Comes the blind Fury with th' abhorred shears
And slits the thin-spun life.


On the other side the inscriptions, which compare the life of a man to the life
of a tree, are taken from Cardinal Wolsey's speech in Henry VIII :

This is the state of man : to-day he puts forth
The tender leaves of hopes.

To-morrow blossoms,
And bears his blushing honors thick upon him.

The third day comes a frost, . . .
And . . . nips his root,
And then he falls.

Accordingly, in the present series, the first medallion shows a woman
(Clotho) with her distaff and a baby lying in her lap. The sun is rising above
the horizon, a sapling begins to put out its branches, and near by is a little
spring. In the next picture, Lachesis has a loom and shuttle. The spring has
grown into a river, and the mature man bears in his hand a basket of fruit
gathered from the abundance of the full-grown tree, while the sun in the
heavens marks the high noon of life. In the last medallion the sun is setting,
the tree has fallen in ruin on the ground, and the stream has dried up. The
man, grown old and crippled, faints by the roadside, and Atropos opens her
fatal shears to sever the thread of his existence.

At each end of the corridor is a tablet containing the names of eminent
American printers, and men who have contributed to the improvement of
American printing machinery. At the north these names are : Green, Daye,
Franklin, Thomas, Bradford ; and at the south, Clymer, Adams, Gordon, Hoe,


Mr. Benson's Paintings. Mr. Benson's decorations in the vault of the
South Corridor and along the wall below are of the same size and shape as those
of Mr. Reid in the North Corridor. The arabesque ornament of the ceiling is
so arranged, however, as to allow space for only three instead of five of these
hexagonal panels. The subject of the paintings they contain is The Graces
Aglaia (at the east), Thalia (in the centre) and Euphrosyne (at the north).

The three figures are almost invariably represented in a group, in both
ancient and modern art. Taken together, they stand, of course, for beauty and
graciousness, and typify, also, the agreeable arts and occupations. In separating
them, Mr. Benson has considered Aglaia as the patroness of Husbandry ; Thalia
as representing Music ; and Euphrosyne, Beauty. The first, therefore, has a

shepherd's crook, the second a lyre, and the
last is looking at her reflection in a hand-
mirror. All are shown sitting in the midst
of a pleasant summer landscape, with trees
and water and fertile meadows.

For the four circular panels Mr. Benson
has chosen as his subject The Seasons. Each
is represented by a beautiful half-length figure
of a young woman, with no attempt, however,
at any elaborate symbolism to distinguish the
season which she typifies. Such distinction
as the painter has chosen to indicate is to be
sought rather in the character of the faces,
or in the warmer or colder coloring of the
whole panel in a word, in the general
artistic treatment.

At either end of the vault is a rectagular
panel painted in the same style as those de-
picting the ancient games in the North Cor-
ridor, but in this case representing the modern
sports of Football and Baseball. The former,
occurring at the east end of the vault, is a
more or less realistic picture of a " scrimmage."
The latter is more conventionalized, showing
single figures, like the pitcher and catcher,
in the attitude of play, and others with bats,
masks, and gloves.

Instead of the swans and dragons of the
North Corridor, the printers' marks in the penetrations of the present corridor
are supported between the figures of mermen and fauns, and mermaids and
nymphs, the male figures, with their suggestion of greater decorative strength,
occurring at the ends of the corridor, and the nymphs and mermaids alternat-
ing between. Altogether there are thirty-two figures, each painted by Mr.
Frederick C. Martin.

On the pendentives, the series of trophies begun in the North Corridor is
continued, giving place, as before, in every other pendentive, to a tablet bearing
an inscription. Beginning on the south side, at the east end, the trophies
are as follows : Printing, with a stick, inking-ball, and type-case ; Pottery,
three jugs of different kinds of clay ; Glass-making, three glass vases of different




shapes ; Carpentry, a saw, bit, hammer, and right angle ; Smithery, the
pincers, hammer, bolt, and nut ; Masonry, a trowel, square, plumb, and mortar-

The following are the eight inscriptions :

Studies perfect nature and are perfected by experience.


Dreams, books, are each a world ; and books, we know,
Are a substantial world, both pure and good.


Learning is but an adjunct to ourself.

Love's Labor's Lost.

A little learning is a dangerous thing ;
Drink deep, or taste not the Pierian spring.


The universal cause
Acts to one end, but acts by various laws.


Vain, very vain, [the] weary search to find
That bliss which only centres in the mind.


Creation's heir, the world, the world is mine !


The fault ... is not in our stars,

But in ourselves, that we are underlings.

Shakespeare {Julius Ccesar} .

The semicircular borders at either end are practically the same in color and
design as in the North Corridor. At the east end, the Eastern is substituted
for the Western Hemisphere, and at the west end, a caduceus and a lictor's
axe for the United States Seal. The accompanying inscriptions are as follows :

Man raises but time weighs.

Modern Greek Proverb.

Beneath the rule of men entirely great,
The pen is mightier than the sword.

Bulwer Lytton.

The noblest motive is the public good.


The Decoration of the Walls. The decoration of the vaults of the
four corridors is distinctly Renaissance in character; the walls beneath, how-
ever, are colored and decorated in accordance with a Pompeiian motive. It
may seem at first thought illogical thus to join two styles so remote from each
other in point of time, but it must be remembered that, in both art and litera-
ture, the Renaissance was literally, as has been pointed out, the nciv birth of

Greek and Roman forms, in the course of which the Italian painters adapted
to their use and subdued to their style the sort of wall decoration which we
know as Pompeiian, from the discovery of so many examples of it in the exca-
vations at Pompeii. The two styles, as used in conjunction in the Library of

Congress, not only in these corridors but
throughout the building, are perfectly
harmonious in color and design; from
the explanation just given the visitor will
see that they have long ago been brought
into a historical unity as well, through
the conventions established by the great
and authoritative school of the Renais-


sance artists.

Mr. Maynard's Pompeiian Pan-
els. The frequent occurrence of win-
dows, doors, and pilasters cuts the wall
into narrow spaces, which, at the north
and south, are colored a plain olive, and
at the east and west the familiar rich
Pompeiian red, ornamented with sim-
ple arabesques and, at the ends, with
iemale figures representing The Virtues, by Mr. George Willoughby Maynard.
There are eight of these figures in all, two in each corner of the hall. Each
figure is about five and a half feet high, clad in floating classic drapery, and
represented to the spectator as appearing before him in the air, without a sup-
port or background other than the deep red of the wall. The style of the paint-
ings is Pompeiian ; the general tone is somewhat like that of marble, although
touched with color so as to remove any comparison with the marble framing.

Beginning at the left in each case, the
names and order of the Virtues are
as follows : At the northeast corner,
Fortitude and Justice ; at the southeast
comer, Patriotism and Courage ; at the
southwest corner, Temperance and Pru-
dence ; at the northwest corner, Indus-
try and Concord. The number of
yirtues to be represented was determined
beforehand, of course, by the number
of spaces at the disposal of the painter.
The selection, therefore, was neces-
sarily somewhat arbitrary.

Each figure is shown with certain
characteristic attributes. In the case of
Industry, Courage, and Patriotism, Mr.
Maynard has himself selected these
attributes ; in the other five figures he
has followed the usual conventions.

Fortitude is shown fully armed the mace in her right hand and the buckler
on her arm, and protected by cuirass, casque, and greaves. She is thus repre-
sented as ready for any emergency living in continual expectation of danger,



and constantly prepared to meet it. Justice holds the globe in her right hand,
signifying the extent of. her sway. She holds a naked sword upright, signify-
ing the terribleness of her punishment. Patriotism is feeding an eagle, the
emblem of America, from a golden bowl an action which symbolizes the
high nourishment with which the Virtue sustains the spirit of the country.
Courage is represented as armed hastily with the buckler, casque, and sword
not, like Fortitude, continually on guard, but snatching up her arms in the
presence of an unforeseen danger. Temperance figured as the classic rather
than the modern virtue holds an antique pitcher in her right hand, from
which a stream of some liquor, whether wine or water, descends into the bowl
she holds in her left. Her buoyancy and air of health betoken her modera-
tion of living. Prudence looks in a hand-glass to discover any danger which
may assail her from behind. In her right hand she holds a serpent the em-
blem of wisdom. Industry draws the flax from a distaff, the end of which is
stuck in her girdle, and twists it into thread, to be wound upon the spindle
which hangs at her side. Concord the Roman goddess Concordia illus-
trates the blessings of peace. In her right hand she bears an olive-branch, and
in her left she carries a cornucopia filled with wheat.

The Inscriptions along the Walls. Before taking leave of the cor-
ridors of the Entrance Hall, one more feature of the decoration requires
notice, namely the twenty-nine inscriptions occupying the gilt tablets below the
stucco frames which surround the circular windows and the wall-paintings of
Mr. Benson and Mr. Reid. They are as follows :

Too low they build who build beneath the stars.


There is but one temple in the Universe and that is the Body of Man.


Beholding the bright countenance of Truth in the quiet and still air of delightful
studies. Milton.

The true university of these days is a collection of books.


Nature is the art of God.

Sir Thomas Browne.

There is no work of genius which has not been the delight of mankind.


It is the mind that makes the man, and our vigor is in our immortal soul.


Thev are never alone that are accompanied by noble thoughts.


Man is one world and has
Another to attend him.


Tongues in trees, books in the running brooks,
Sermons in stones, and good in everything.

As You Like It.


The true Shekinah is man.


Only the actions of the just

Smell sweet and blossom in the dust.


Art is long, and Time is fleeting.


The history of the world is the biography of great men.


Books will speak plain when counsellors blanch.


Glor is acquired by virtue but preserved by letters.


The foundation of every state is the education of its youth.


The chief glory of every people arises from its authors.

Dr. Johnson.

There is only one good, namely knowledge, and one only evil, namely ignorance.

Diogenes Laertius.

Knowledge comes, but wisdom lingers.


Wisdom is the principal thing ; therefore get wisdom : and with all thy getting
get understanding. Proverbs iv, 7.

Ignorance is the curse of God,
Knowledge the wing wherewith we fly to heaven.

2 Henry IV.

How charming is divine Philosophy !


Books must follow sciences and not sciences books.
. . Bacon.

In books lies the Soul of the whole past time.


Words are also actions and actions are a kind of words.


Reading maketh a full man, conference a ready man, and writing an exact man.


Science is organized knowledge.

Herbert Spencer.

Beauty is truth, truth beauty.




The vaulting of the broad passageway leading to the Reading Room consists
of a series of six small domes, the ornamentation of which is similar, in its more
modest way, to that of the vaulted corridors which the visitor has just left.
The colors are light and bright, and the three different patterns employed con-
sist mainly of garlands and ribbons, and of simple bands of color radiating
from a central medallion. Swans, eagles, or owls are introduced both in the
domes and as the ornament of the pendentives, and eagles occur between the
double consoles which receive the weight of the domes upon the east wall. la
the medallions just referred to are various
objects symbolizing the Fine Arts
tragic and comic masks, for Acting; a
lyre, for Music ; a block of marble, half

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Online LibraryHerbert SmallHandbook of the Library of Congress → online text (page 6 of 13)