The murals are an excellent example of a regional artistic style known as "California Decorative." Arthur and his wife Lucia Kleinhans Mathews combined a romantic classicism and idealism with a Renaissance color palette and California imagery to create this distinctive style. We have included Mathews' own words and interpretations of the murals for context and to illuminate
his era's distinctive interpretation of California history. Mathews chose to describe the four epochs and the panels within them in flourishes of language typical to his era.
Mathews' twelve murals were displayed in the first floor rotunda until the beginning of the Capitol's restoration project in 1976. At that time, the murals were removed and conserved. In 1981, they were installed in the basement rotunda to better preserve the original appearance of the first floor rotunda. This installation safeguarded an historic piece of art for California and its Capitol.