This print is one of the greatest views of the capitol and the city of Washington. It was printed and published by E. Sachse, a printmaker famous for his sweeping views of cities. In this Washington view, the new Capitol building stands in the foreground, with the rest of the capital city laid out in the background. The Capitol building is artfully depicted with its domed rotunda, the old Senate and House chambers (incorrectly drawn without their domes), and the new legislative wings, identified by their elongated skylights.
Stretched out beyond the Capitol, one sees the red-bricked Smithsonian Castle. The red sandstone was harvested from nearby Seneca Creek, Maryland. When it was completed in 1855, the Castle sat on an isolated piece of land cut off from downtown Washington, DC, by a canal. In the ensuing decades, the Castle became the anchor for the National Mall, as additional museums and government buildings were constructed around it.
The Washington Monument is also visible in Sachse’s view, although incorrectly depicted. It is shown as if constructed by its original plan, drawn by architect Robert Mills years earlier. At the time of printing, the construction of Washington Monument had been halted due to a lack of funds. It was not until 1876 that construction would once again commence, and Mills’ original concept of an ornate and embellished obelisk surrounded by a ring of columns (shown here) would be scraped for a cleaner and more minimal design.
The Old Patent Office, the White House, and the Long Bridge pop up in the distance, and lead the eye towards the busy Potomac River, Georgetown Heights, and the wooded farm land of NW Washington.
To see this print in person, stop by our gallery. We are open Tuesday- Saturday, from 10am to 5:20pm. You can also view it on our website, link here.