Statues

Only a Few Originals Remain

Pietro Mezzara, California’s first major sculptor, created the statuary for the Capitol’s rooftop and pediment. Thirty figures, urns, and emblems adorned the Capitol in 1873.

The groups designed for the north and south porticos, and for flanking the frontoon [sic] will be each fourteen feet long by ten feet high. At each corner of the building will be placed statues eleven from 12 feet high representing respectively “War,” “Peace,” and “Force,” and on the intervening pedestals between corners and centers will be placed and arranged six statues seven feet high – “Fame,” “Eloquence,” and “Verity” – and 14 richly ornamented and figured vases from three-and-one-half to five-and-one-half feet high. All of these groups, statues, and vases are to be cast in solid stone by the Pacific Stone Company…By the terms of the contracts the work is to be fully finished and in place before the adjournment of the next Legislature. The total cost of artist and mechanical work, materials and finishing, will be $34,500.

— Sacramento Daily Union, September 4, 1872

These elements were removed during the Capitol’s 1906 renovation and subsequently lost. Today, only the statuary on the west front pediment tympanum (the recessed space enclosed by the triangular pediment) is original. These statues reflect the Capitol’s roots in Greek architecture. In Grecian times statuary was considered part of the building, not as mere decoration. It was a way to visually communicate and transmit epics and mythology in a largely illiterate society.

angel statue