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English: History, mosaic by Frederick Dielman. House Members Room, Library of Congress Thomas Jefferson Building, Washington, D.C.

The figure of History, in the mosaic's centre, holds a pen and book. On both sides of her, there are tablets mounted in a marble wall with benches on either side of the tablets. The tablets contain the names of great historians. One tablet contains the names of the ancient historians Herodotus and Thucydides in brighter gold, followed by Polybius, Livy, Tacitus, Bæda, Comines. The other tablet contains the name of the modern historians Hume and Gibbon in brighter gold, along with Niebuhr, Guizot, Ranke, and the Americans Bancroft and Motley. At the foot of one of the tablets is a laurel wreath symbolizing peace, and at the foot of the second tablet is an oak wreath symbolizing war. A palm branch designating success rests against the wreaths and tablets.

The female figure on one side of History is Mythology. As the symbol of the theories of the universe, she holds a globe of the earth in her left hand. The Greeks' female sphinx to her right represents the eternally insoluble Riddle of the World. Tradition, the aged woman seated on the other side of History, represents medieval legend and folk tales. She is shown in the midst of relating her old wives' tales to the young boy seated before her. The distaff in her lap, the youth with a harp in his hand (a reference to the wandering minstrel of the Middle Ages), and the shield are reminders of a past age. The mosaic includes ancient buildings from the three nations of antiquity with highly developed histories: an Egyptian pyramid, a Greek temple, and a Roman amphitheater.

Along with the mosaic panel representing Law above the north fireplace, this mosaic was prepared in Venice, Italy and sent to the Jefferson Building to be put into place. Both mosaics were made of pieces, or tesserae, which were fitted together to provide subtle gradations in colour.

(Much of the preceding text is derived from the Library of Congress's virtual tour of the Thomas Jefferson Building.)
Date 1896
Source Library of Congress, Prints & Photographs Division, LC-DIG-highsm-02058 (original digital file), uncompressed archival TIFF version (103 MiB), cropped and converted to JPEG with the GIMP 2.6.6, image quality 88.
Author Artist is Frederick Dielman (1847–1935). Photographed 2007 by Carol Highsmith (1946–), who explicitly placed the photograph in the public domain.
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