In 1909, the State of South Dakota awarded the William G Andrews Decorating Company of Clinton, Iowa a $40,000 contract for decorating the interior of the new Capitol, including art glass and nine mural paintings.


As noted in Harold Schuler's Book Pierre Since 1910,  "Andrews's decorating plan consisted of classic border decorations and richly ornamented designs on the walls and ceilings of the Governor's office, Supreme Court courtroom, House and Senate Chambers and corridors."


Andrews had secured commitments from Edward Simmons to supply five pictures, Mr. Charles Holloway was to contribute three pictures, and Mr. Edwin Howland Blashfield, one picture.


Simmons provided the four pendentives for the dome, and the lunette at the head of the grand stairway. As described in a guide to the Capitol Building from the 1920's, narratives for the lunette and pendentives are as follows:


"The Advent of Commerce at the head of the grand stairway illustrates the bringing of white trade to the Indians." A further narrative notes "The white trader has drawn his canoe from the water, and is dealing with the Indians for the robe spread out before him."





It has been written of "Agriculture," the north pendentive, that it is conventional but remarkably executed.


It depicts the goddess Ceres with stalks of corn.


Underneath the pendentive is the great Seal of the United States.








"Livestock" was described long ago as "thought by critics to be an unusually strong concept.


It depicts Europa and Zeus.


Underneath the pendentive is the seal of the the nation of France, representing that South Dakota was once considered part of the Louisiana Purchase before that block of land was transferred to the United States from France.









"Wisdom, Industry and Mining" depicts the goddess Minerva operating a steam drill.


Underneath the pendentive is the seal of the the nation of Spain, in recognition of the Unites States being 'discovered' by Christopher Columbus in 1492.









Doane Robinson's Encyclopedia of South Dakota says that the South pendentive, the Simmons painting "Motherhood" is "portrayed in a masterful way by a child clinging to the draperies of it's mother."


Simmons himself noted of the painting, which pictures Venus and cupid, that "this is the best thing he had done in my long life of busy artistry."


Underneath this mural, you'll find the great seal of the State of South Dakota.




The scale of the pendantives are not immediately evident from the photos you see here, but they are quite large - each at about a ten foot diameter.



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More of the Decorated Capitol



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