"Columbia Welcoming the South Back into the Union" by Constantino Brumidi

Constantino Brumidi (1805–1880)
Columbia Welcoming the South Back into the Union
c. 1876
Oil on canvas
10¾ x 16 5/8 inches
Given in loving memory of Jean Gardiner Chisholm Lindsey by Alexander and Lynn Lindsey and John and Julia Lindsey; 2000.047

This oil sketch is a small version of a work that Constantino Brumidi painted on the ceiling of the vice president's Senate office in the United States Capitol Building, in Washington, D.C. It is an allegorical painting using figures, objects, and events to represent ideas. Brumidi has placed allegorical or symbolic figures in the setting of an American landscape to convey a harmonious scene in which the South is warmly welcomed back to the federal union after the Civil War.

On the left, the figure of Columbia holds what appears to be a rudder, a symbol of rule or law, and sits between two other female figures. One figure is shown with a sheaf of wheat and a cornucopia symbolizing agriculture of the Northern region, while the other holds a caduceus, a symbol of commerce. Columbia extends a hand to the South, who approaches holding a bouquet of cotton bolls. The South is being led by Liberty, who wears a liberty cap and a sash of stars across her chest. At her feet is an eagle, which holds the olive branch of peace in its beak.