Brumidi depicted George Washington rising to the heavens in glory, flanked by female figures representing Liberty and Victory/Fame. A rainbow arches at his feet, and thirteen maidens symbolizing the original states flank the three central figures. (The word “apotheosis” in the title means literally the glorification of a person as an ideal, or the raising of a person to the rank of a god; George Washington was honored as a national icon in the nineteenth century.)
This work is part of a larger fresco.
While the list is long of how a “fasci” or “fasces” or axe-blade has been used in symbolism by mankind throughout the Ages, and notably in America as well, (see wikipedia.org for an overview), Brumidi used the axe-blade pictured here to depict the warrior power of The People.
This fresco is painted on the Ocula of the Rotunda of the Capitol Building. Suspended 180 feet above the Rotunda floor, the fresco covers an area of 4,664 square feet. The figures, up to 15 feet tall, were painted to be intelligible from close up as well as from 180 feet below.
It should be noted that the Continental Congress appointed Washington commander-in-chief of the American revolutionary forces in 1775. He later became the first President and some proposed he be made King. During President Washington’s second term, King George III asked what Washington would do next. The King was informed that Washington might return to his farm. After hearing this, King George III responded with, “If he does that, he will be the greatest man in the world.”
George Washington declined kingship, gave up command of the Continental Army and bowed out of a third term as President to return to his farm at Mount Vernon.
Source: We the People Organization