William Powell's Discovery of the Mississipi by De Soto, A. D. 1541 and United States History

Original Conception: John Dyer
First Extension: Eric J. Gislason

William Powell's Discovery of the Mississippi by DeSoto, A.D. 1541is the eighth and final painting to be placed in the Rotunda of the United States Capitol. Considered in the context of the other paintings in the Rotunda, Powell's De Soto details an ideological shift in the United States from 18th-century republicanism to 19th-century imperialism. The following essays analyze the painting's origin and conception, its critical reception, and its decisive role in the pictorial representation and public legitimation of U. S. westward expansion.

  1. The Congressional Debate: Expansionism and Powell's Commission
  2. The Critical Reception of Discovery of the Mississippi by DeSoto, A.D. 1541
  3. John Trumbull's Republicanism: The First Four Rotunda Murals
  4. The Art of Empire: De Soto and the Mid-Century Murals
  5. Legitimating: Richard Caton Woodville's Old '76 and Young '48
  6. Further Reading