John Quincy Adams Ward was called upon to design the sculptures for the drum of the dome of Richard M. Upjohn’s revised plan of the Capitol of Connecticut. When first designed in 1872 by Upjohn, the Capitol was intended to have a square clock tower at its center.
In 1873, construction was halted in a contest with building contractor and loosing design competitor James G. Batterson over what should be the central feature of the Capitol. Batterson, a powerful and wealthy business man in Harford, seems to have prevailed. The redesigned building would now have a very high circular gilded dome surrounded by freestanding sculpture which would stand out on the skyline. The more Italianate renaissance style dome strongly contrasts to square corner pavillions of the main building and differs in decoration from the gothic flavor of the ornament in the tall drum immediately below the sculptures. This mixing of historic styles is characteristic of the eclectic revival architecture of the nineteenth century and is appropriate for a legislative building.
The dome rises 257 feet above the ground. The drum of the dome has 12 sides with 12 stained glass windows topped by gothic pointed arches. Upjohn’s revised plan called for 12 different allegorical statues to stand on the balustrade and be seen silhouetted against the gold back ground of the dome.
John Quincy Adams Ward was called upon to design the sculptures for the drum of the dome. The project was to represent various aspects of humanity personified by human figures. Lack of funds allow on for the execution of six models, so each of the six originals was copied to provide 12 figures. But given the circular form of the dome, a viewer can never see the duplicates at the same time. Some of the allegories are ambiguous, representing more than one aspect of humanity, a legacy of the original twelve-part program.
Each plaster model was executed twice, each in blue Carrara marble, to make 12 figures. The plaster models are displayed on the banisters outside the gallery of the House of Representatives inside the Capitol. The models were restored by John Leslie of Guilford in 1990.
The Six Aspects of Humanity finally represented are: Agriculture, holding a sheaf of wheat; Commerce, shielding her eyes and holding a triangular anchor; Education/Law, holding a scroll; Force/War, holding a spear; Science, with the snake entwined caduceus, paddle and globe; and Music, with a lyre.
Dome of the Capitol
Available in these Tours
- Connecticut State Capitol :
- James G. Batterson biography :
- David M Roth, “Connecticut’s New State Captitol,” Connecticut’s Heritage Gateway, 2003, CT Heritage :
- Connecticut State Library Archives, State Capitol Building Record Group 027, Board of Capitol Commissioners, 1871-1880 :
- Richard M. Upjohn, The State Capitol: Hartford Conn, Monograph of American Architecture, II, Boston, Ticknor & Company, 1886 :