Myrtle Cheney Murdock
Myrtle Cheney Murdock launched a campaign to resurrect the
reputation of Constantino Brumidi in 1936. As the wife of a
freshman Congressman from Arizona, Mrs. Murdock was struck by the
beauty of the frescoes painted on the walls and ceilings of the
U.S. Capitol. After enquiring about the artist to no avail,
Myrtle Cheney Murdock began to research the life and art of
Brumidi. Eventually, Mrs. Murdock became the Capitol's resident
expert on Constantino Brumidi, and was employed as a Capitol
guide until her death. She published six books on the Capitol
building, one of whom, Brumidi, Michelangelo of the Capitol,
deals exclusively with the life and work of Constantino Brumidi.
This book, published in 1950, depicts a dashing and romantic
artist striving to portray his conception of liberty and freedom.
Mrs. Murdock writes,"Everything about this man in long black cape
and close fitting beret betokened pride and triumph in
achievement-- the tense erectness of the body, the tilt of the
head, the glow of the cheek." Her treatment of Brumidi is
frequently fawning and never critical.
Mrs. Murdock's crusade to revive the reputation of Brumidi
culminated in Congressional recognition of his gravesite. On
February 19, 1952, a bronze marker was set in place at the
formerly unmarked grave discovered by Murdock. At this time, the
President of Italy presented Myrtle Cheney Murdock with the Order
of the Star of Italian Solidarity for her work "in the cause of
the cultural relations between the two countries of which the
work of the Italian artist, Brumidi, is a brilliant example."
For the rest of her life, Myrtle Cheney Murdock worked in the
U.S. Capitol building as a Brumidi expert and official guide.
She also travelled for speaking engagements on the topics of
"From Congressional Wife to Capitol Guide," "The Capitol Building
of the United States," and "Constantino Brumidi, Michelangelo of
the United States Capitol."
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