Bowdoin College Museum of Art

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Elihu Vedder (New York City, New York, 1836 - 1923, Rome, Italy)


Rome (The Art Idea)

Creation Date



late 19th century


144 in. x 288 in. (365.76 cm x 731.5 cm)

Object Type


Creation Place

North America, United States

Medium and Support

oil on canvas

Credit Line

Gift of the Misses Harriet Sarah and Mary Sophia Walker


Public Domain

Accession Number

The Museum’s central rotunda is a magisterial space decorated below the dome by four large semicircular murals by the four leading painters of the American Renaissance: Elihu Vedder, Kenyon Cox, Abbott Thayer and John LaFarge. They were commissioned by McKim who believed in the unity of the arts and constituted an extremely important ensemble of architectural decoration. The original mural scheme called for each artist to paint an allegorical representation of one of the four cities perceived at the time as most central to the development of western art. Elihu Vedder’s mural depicts Rome under whose gaze appear the different elements of art: Wisdom, Knowledge, Soul, Life, Harmony, Love, Color and Form.

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