Liberty and the Eagle

Placed high above the cornice in National Statuary Hall is a colossal sculptural group consisting of three figures. The over-13-foot-high, classically draped female figure, called Liberty, looks straight out over the room, her left hand on her hip and her right holding a scroll representing the Constitution of the United States; the sculptor Enrico Causici called her "The Genius of the Constitution." An American eagle stands to her right, and on her left a snake, the symbol of wisdom, is entwined around an altar in the shape of a column drum resembling the fasces, the bundle of rods that symbolizes governmental authority. When the House of Representatives met in this space between 1819 and 1857, this sculpture stood above the Speaker's desk. Enrico Causici (active 1814-1833) was from Verona, Italy, and studied and worked with the most prominent neoclassical sculptors of the time. He intended to carve the figures in marble but was never hired to do so; his plaster model was lifted into place in 1819 and has been painted over the years. Causici also designed and carved two of the reliefs in the Rotunda, "The Landing of the Pilgrims" and "Daniel Boone and the Indians," and sculpted the statue on the Washington Monument in Baltimore, Maryland.