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Building The Library

The Library of Congress Building or the Jefferson Building is the oldest of the four United States Library of Congress buildings, built between 1890 and 1897 in Washington, DC. It is located on First Street SE, between Independence Avenue and East Capitol Street.

The new building was needed because of the Copyright Law of 1870, which required all copyright applicants to send to the Library two copies of their work. This resulted in a flood of books, pamphlets, maps, music, prints, and photographs. After Congress approved construction of the building in 1886, it took eleven years to complete.

The building's main architect was Paul J. Pelz, born in Prussian Silesia, initially in partnership with John L. Smithmeyer, a native of Vienna, Austria, and succeeded by Edward Pearce Casey during the last few years of construction. More than fifty American painters and sculptors produced commissioned works of art.

The building opened to the public on November 1, 1897, met with wide approval and was immediately seen as a national monument. The building name was changed on June 13, 1980 to honor former U.S. President Thomas Jefferson.
[Sheds, piles of bricks and workers during construction of the Library of Congress Thomas Jefferson Building, Washington, D.C., with the U.S. Capitol in the background]
1852
1852
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2016
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2016
392 Media in collectionpage 2 of 4

N.C. 1st story, marble carving shop

Photograph shows stone carvers at work in the Library of Congress Thomas Jefferson Building during its construction.

[Sculpted marble stored in northeast curtain for construction of the Library of Congress Thomas Jefferson Building, Washington, D.C.]

Photograph shows men creating decorations for the main building in impromptu studios. The large eagle at the right of center and one of the two matching eagles at the left flank the marble tablet above the Grea... more

[Study for figure in Corrupt legislation without scale]

Study drawing shows the allegorical central figure in the Library of Congress mural Corrupt legislation with a staff across her lap. She wears some drapery. The mural was installed in the Jefferson Building in 1896.

[Study for the central figure of Anarchy holding a chalice]

Study drawing shows the central figure of Anarchy, partially draped, holding a chalice with her left hand. Her left foot rests on a scroll. She lacks facial features and her right hand. The mural Anarchy was in... more

[Study of wreath which became an olive branch held by Peace in the mural Peace and prosperity]

Study drawing shows a wreath, later an olive branch, held in the right hand of Peace, whose nude shoulder and torso outline is partially visible. The mural Peace and prosperity was installed in the Jefferson Bu... more

[Corrupt legislation]

Design drawing for lunette mural in the Library of Congress Thomas Jefferson Building main reading room shows corrupt legislation symbolized by a scantily clothed woman holding half of a scale onto which a weal... more

[Study for figure in Corrupt legislation]

Study drawing shows the allegorical central figure in the Library of Congress mural Corrupt legislation holding her scale. She wears some drapery. The mural was installed in the Jefferson Building in 1896.

[Minerva]

Sketch for mosaic design in the Library of Congress Thomas Jefferson Building great hall shows the goddess Minerva driving a horse-drawn chariot.

[Study for figure of Arts in the mural Peace and prosperity, no. 1]

Study drawing shows the feet, arm, legs and hips of Arts, a nude male, facing left and holding pottery. Arts faces right in the final rendering of the mural. Peace and prosperity was installed in the Jefferson ... more

[Study of the olive branch held by Peace in the mural Peace and prosperity]

Study drawing shows the olive branch held in the right hand of Peace, whose nude body is partially visible. The mural Peace and prosperity was installed in the Jefferson Building of the Library of Congress in 1896.

[Study for the central figure of Anarchy]

Study drawing shows the central figure of Anarchy, partially draped, holding a burning torch made from a scroll with her right hand and a chalice, representing maddening by wine. She tramples scholarship, relig... more

Study not used for Anarchy in Congressional Library Washington

Study drawing shows the figure of Anarchy, facing right holding her torch, sitting atop rubble and a smoking bomb. The mural Anarchy was installed in the Jefferson Building of the Library of Congress in 1896.

[Study of figure of Arts in the mural Peace and prosperity, no. 3]

Study drawing shows a boy, nude, crouching facing left as he holds a vase. This is a study for the figure of Arts in the Library of Congress mural Peace and prosperity, who faces right in the final rendering. T... more

[Study for figure of Arts in the mural Peace and prosperity, no. 4]

Study drawing shows a boy, nude, crouching facing right. This is a study for the figure of Arts in the Library of Congress mural Peace and prosperity, installed in 1896.

[Study for Corrupt legislation]

Drawing shows the feet and figure of a girl in classical garb, facing right. This is a study for the figure on the left in the mural Corrupt legislation, installed in the Jefferson Building of the Library of Co... more

[Study of the arms and hands of Peace in Peace and prosperity]

Study drawing shows the left arm holding a wreath, an elbow or knee, and cupped arms and hands for the allegorical Library of Congress mural Peace and prosperity. The mural was installed in the Jefferson Buildi... more

[Ignorance - figure in "Anarchy"]

Study drawing shows the figure of Ignorance from the mural Anarchy, holding her staff. The mural was installed in the Jefferson Building of the Library of Congress in 1896.

Congressional Library, the entrance pavilion / Handy phot.

Photograph shows an exterior view from 1st Street near Independence Ave. of the front entrance pavilion of the Thomas Jefferson Building of the Library of Congress.

[Study for Corrupt legislation - figure at left]

Drawing shows a girl in classical garb, facing right and holding a distaff and spindle, an allegory of idleness. This is a study for the mural Corrupt legislation, installed in the Jefferson Building of the Lib... more

[Library of Congress (Washington, D.C.). Frames for stained glass in skylights and octagon windows. Ironwork. Details. Working drawing]

Working drawing showing ironwork frames for stained glass in skylights and lantern lights of the Thomas Jefferson building as details.

Evolution of the book, east corridor. Oral tradition / J.W. Alexander, artist.

Photo of mural in the Library of Congress Jefferson Building depicting Arabian storyteller recounting tales to a group of Arabs.

Reading room vestibule. Anarchy / Elihu Vedder, Rome, 1896.

Photo of semi-circular panel from mural entitled The Government in the Library of Congress Jefferson Building showing two women and one man nude or in classical garb with tools of destruction amid ruins labeled... more

[Manuscript Book mural in Evolution of the Book series, John W. Alexander. Library of Congress Thomas Jefferson Building, Washington, D.C.]

Photo of one part of a six-part mural on the history of the book; after conservation of the mural. Depicts a monk illustrating a manuscript, with two monks in background.

Civilization

Mural by George W. Maynard in the Thomas Jefferson Building, Library of Congress.

Astronomy

Study drawing shows the half of the allegorical figure of "Astronomy" with preliminary shading of the drapery above her head for the painting, The sciences, in the south end lunette of the Southwest Gallery in ... more

Touch

Reproduction in Library of Congress Jefferson Building showing woman seated with right arm on dog.

Drapery study for figure of Mathematics Library of Congress

Study drawing shows the dress and drapery for the figure allegorical of "Mathematics" for the painting, The sciences, in the south end lunette of the Southwest Gallery in the Library of Congress' Jefferson Buil... more

Evolution of the book, east corridor. Egyptian hieroglyphics / J.W. Alexander, artist.

Photo of mural in the Library of Congress Jefferson Building depicting an Egyptian man using hammer and chisel to write on wall in hieroglyphics a picture of a woman. Woman model posed in seated position on the right.

Evolution of the book, east corridor. The cairn / J.W. Alexander, artist.

Photo of mural in the Library of Congress Jefferson Building depicting semi-clad men working at cairn.

Nude study for figure of Sculpture

Study drawing shows the nude allegorical figure of "Sculpture," holding her statuette, for the painting, The arts, in the north end lunette of the Southwest Gallery in the Library of Congress' Jefferson Buildin... more

Nude study for figure of Painting

Study drawing shows the nude allegorical figure of Painting holding her palette, for the painting, The arts, in the north end lunette of the Southwest Gallery in the Library of Congress' Jefferson Building. A g... more

Hearing

Reproduction of mural in Library of Congress Jefferson Building showing woman listening to seashell.

Evolution of the book, east corridor. The printing press / J.W. Alexander, artist.

Photo of mural in the Library of Congress Jefferson Building depicting a man working press and Gutenberg and another man examining proof.

Study for part of drapery for figure of Physics

Study drawing shows the drapery for the allegorical figure of "Physics" below the torso for the painting, The sciences, in the south end lunette of the Southwest Gallery in the Library of Congress' Jefferson Bu... more

Nude study for figure of Physics

Study drawing shows the allegorical figure of "Physics," from the side, for the painting, The sciences, in the south end lunette of the Southwest Gallery in the Library of Congress' Jefferson Building. A grid c... more

[Cairn mural in Evolution of the Book series, by John W. Alexander. Library of Congress Thomas Jefferson Building, Washington, D.C.]

Photo of one part of a six-part mural on the history of the book; after conservation of the mural. Depicts semi-clad men working at a cairn (mound of stones piled up as a memorial).

Zoology

Study drawing shows the nude allegorical figure of "Zoology," seen from behind, for the painting, The sciences, in the south end lunette of the Southwest Gallery in the Library of Congress' Jefferson Building.

Detail - Library of Congress

Study drawing shows a detail of drapery for the painting, The arts, in the north end lunette of the Southwest Gallery in the Library of Congress' Jefferson Building. In the painting the drapery is right center.

War, northwest gallery / Gari Melchers, artist.

Photo of mural in the Library of Congress Jefferson Building depicting men returning home from battle, carrying with them the body at a dead warrior.

Drapery study for figure of Painting

Study drawing shows the drapery for the allegorical figure of Painting from below the torso, for the painting, The arts, in the north end lunette of the Southwest Gallery in the Library of Congress' Jefferson B... more

Smell

Reproduction of mural in Library of Congress Jefferson Building showing woman smelling flower.

Evolution of the book, east corridor. Picture writing / J.W. Alexander, artist.

Photo of mural in the Library of Congress Jefferson Building depicting an American Indian writing on hide with Indian woman in background.

Nude study for figure of Poetry

Study drawing shows the nude allegorical figure of Poetry for the painting, The arts, in the north end lunette of the Southwest Gallery in the Library of Congress' Jefferson Building. A grid covers the drawing.

Drapery study for figure of Music Library of Congress

Study drawing shows the dress and drapery of the allegorical figure of Music, for the painting, The arts, in the north end lunette of the Southwest Gallery in the Library of Congress' Jefferson Building. A grid... more

Evolution of the book, east corridor. Manuscript book / J.W. Alexander, artist.

Photo of mural in the Library of Congress Jefferson Building depicting a monk illustrating a manuscript, with two monks in background.

[Good administration mural by Elihu Vedder, Jefferson Building, Library of Congress]

Photo of semi-circular panel in five-part mural called "Government" shows woman seated on "good administration" holding fair scale and a person on each side of her, all in classical garb.

[Egyptian hieroglyphics mural in Evolution of the Book series, by John W. Alexander. Library of Congress Thomas Jefferson Building, Washington, D.C.]

Photo of one part of a six-part mural on the history of the book; after conservation of the mural. Depicts an Egyptian man using hammer and chisel to write on wall in hieroglyphics a picture of a woman. Woman m... more

Reading room vestibule. Corrupt legislation / Elihu Vedder, Rome.

Photo of semi-circular panel from mural in the Library of Congress Thomas Jefferson Building entitled The Government, depicting man, woman, and child in classical garb holding an unjust scale.

[Study for figures of Sculpture and Painting]

Study drawing shows the nude allegorical figures of Sculpture and Painting, for the painting, The arts, in the north end lunette of the Southwest Gallery in the Library of Congress' Jefferson Building.

Taste

Reproduction of a mural in the Library of Congress Jefferson Building showing woman drinking from dish.

Nude study for figure of Music

Study drawing shows the nude allegorical figure of Music holding a violin against her chin, for the painting, The arts, in the north end lunette of the Southwest Gallery in the Library of Congress' Jefferson Bu... more

The sciences, decoration for the Library of Congress

Scaled cartoon for large mural painting showing cherubs and five women representing various sciences. Study for tympanum in southwest gallery of the Jefferson Building.

Drapery study for figure of Sculpture

Study drawing shows the dress and drapery for the allegorical figure of "Sculpture" for the painting, The arts, in the north end lunette of the Southwest Gallery in the Library of Congress' Jefferson Building. ... more

Design for Minerva Congressional Library

Study drawing shows full-length design for mosaic of Minerva facing right, with a staff in her right hand and a scroll in her left. The mosaic of Minerva was installed in the Jefferson Building of the Library o... more

Architecture

Study drawing shows the nude allegorical figure of "Architecture" for the painting, The arts, in the north end lunette of the Southwest Gallery in the Library of Congress' Jefferson Building. She faces right. I... more

Astronomy

Study drawing shows the nude allegorical figure of "Astronomy," holding her calipers, for the painting, The sciences, in the south end lunette of the Southwest Gallery in the Library of Congress' Jefferson Buil... more

Sight

Reproduction of mural in Library of Congress Jefferson Building, showing woman holding mirror seated beside peacock.

Study for statuette held by figure of Sculpture

Study drawing shows the nude statuette held by the allegorical figure of "Sculpture" in the painting, The arts, in the north end lunette of the Southwest Gallery in the Library of Congress' Jefferson Building. ... more

Genius with telescope Library of Congress

Study drawing shows a putti holding a telescope to one eye, for the painting, The sciences, in the south end lunette of the Southwest Gallery in the Library of Congress' Jefferson Building. A grid covers the drawing.

[Picture Writing mural in Evolution of the Book series, by John W. Alexander. Library of Congress Thomas Jefferson Building, Washington, D.C.]

Photo of one part of a six-part mural on the history of the book; after conservation of the mural. Depicts an American Indian writing on hide with Indian woman in background.

[Printing Press mural in Evolution of the Book series, by John W. Alexander. Library of Congress Thomas Jefferson Building, Washington, D.C.]

Photo shows one part of a six-part mural on the history of the book; after conservation of the mural. Depicts a man working at a printing press and Gutenberg and another man examining proof.

Lyric poetry south corridor / H.O. Walker, artist.

Photo of mural in the Library of Congress Jefferson Building depicting six women in classical garb or nude, one with lyre, and a child.

[Oral Tradition mural in Evolution of the Book series, by John W. Alexander. Library of Congress Thomas Jefferson Building, Washington, D.C.]

Photo of one part of a six-part mural on the history of the book; after conservation of the mural. Depicts Arabian storyteller recounting tales to a group of Arabs.

Minerva, design for a mosaic by Elihu Vedder, Congressional Library, Washington

Photo of Design for mosaic for the Library of Congress Thomas Jefferson Building showing Minerva holding spear and scroll, with winged statue, rain, and portrait medallion in lower right corner.

Study Minerva Washington Congressional Library

Drawing shows bust and shoulders of Minerva facing right, and above her left an arm holding a scroll. This is a study for the mosaic of Minerva installed in the Jefferson Building of the Library of Congress in 1897.

The arts - decoration for the Library of Congress

Scaled cartoon for large mural painting showing cherubs and five women representing various arts. Study for tympanum in southwest gallery of the Jefferson Building.

Drapery study for figure of Astronomy

Study drawing shows the dress and drapery for the figure of "Astronomy," but not the drapery above her head, for the painting, The sciences, in the south end lunette of the Southwest Gallery in the Library of C... more

Head of Minerva

Painting was a preparatory study for the mosaic Minerva, which is in the Library of Congress, Jefferson Building, Washington, D.C.

Drapery study for figure of Physics

Study drawing shows dress and drapery for the allegorical figure of "Physics," from the side, for the painting, The sciences, in the south end lunette of the Southwest Gallery in the Library of Congress' Jeffer... more

[Corrupt legislation mural by Elihu Vedder, Jefferson Building, Library of Congress]

Photo of semi-circular panel in five-part mural called "Government" shows man, woman, and child in classical garb, with woman seated and holding an unjust scale.

Congressional Library. In the gallery

Photo shows the statues in the Main Reading Room of the Library of Congress.

Congressional Library. Grand stair hall

Photo shows the Great Hall in the Library of Congress.

[Congressional Library. View from the U.S. Capitol]

Photo shows the newly built Library of Congress in Washington, D.C.

Congressional Library. Corridor south of main entrance

Photo shows interior of the newly built Library of Congress.

[Congressional Library]. West corridor

Photo shows the Great Hall of the Library of Congress, with two guards.

[Congressional Library. Minerva]

Photo shows the Great Hall area of the Library of Congress.

Congressional Library. Mantle, Law, in special reading room, H. of R.

Photo shows the House of Representatives room in the Library of Congress.

U.S. Congressional Library. Senate reading room

Photo shows the interior of the newly built Library of Congress.

Congressional Library. Looking n.w. from south vault / Handy, ph. .

Photo shows the Great Hall area of the Library of Congress.

[Congressional Library]. Representative special reading room

Photo shows the interior of the newly built Library of Congress.

[Congressional Library. Second floor, northwest gallery, looking towards mural of war]

Photo shows Great Hall area of the newly built Library of Congress.

[Congressional Library. First floor, northwest corridor, looking towards mural of Calliope]

Photo shows the interior of the newly built Library of Congress.