Skip Content
U.S. Flag

Art in the Senate:

A View of the Senate's Past

A handsomely illustrated new publication, The United States Senate Catalogue of Graphic Art, offers a variety of perspectives on the Senate of the 19th and 20th centuries and provides insight into a time quite different than the media-saturated world of today.

Politics has always been a major topic in the press, but limitations in printing technology meant that visuals and engravings were uncommon in the post-Revolutionary War press. However, various innovations during the 19th century in both the printing process and the transportation system allowed for rapid distribution of illustrated magazines providing readers the opportunity to "see" an event within a week, and later within days of it happening.

The approximately 1,000 prints that make up the catalogue are divided into eight thematic chapters: Senate Chamber, Capitol Interior, Capitol Exterior & Grounds, Senate Art, Portraits, Group Portraits, Beyond Capitol Hill, and Political Cartoons & Caricatures. Detailed information is given for each print, including title, creator, date of publication, printing technique, and dimensions. In addition, accompanying approximately 30 prints are short essays giving background and context for the scene, people, or events depicted in the illustration. For the chapter on political cartoons, which includes the work of such notable artists as Thomas Nast and Joseph Keppler there is an introductory essay as well as brief commentaries on 15 cartoons.

This catalogue will undoubtably become a valuable resource for anyone wanting to learn more about the history of the Senate, the Capitol, or American political history.

The catalogue is available through GPO online.

Past Feature Articles