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HOME FOOTBALL WRIGHT HARRISON SIBERIA KING JR. REVOLUTION COAT OF ARMS
Whose Coat of Arms Is This? And Why is It Painted on Steel?

At the time of the dedication of the Hispanic Room in the Library of Congress, the mural adorning its south wall, depicting the coat of arms of Christopher Columbus and following a broad design developed by the architect of the room, Paul Philippe Cret, had not yet been commissioned. After deciding on the overall design for the mural and giving much consideration to the techniques with which it could be executed, Cret became interested in the use of stainless steel. His interest became known to the executives of the Allegheny Ludlum Steel Corp. of Pittsburgh, Pa., who saw in the project not only the opportunity to experiment with the use of stainless steel but also the chance to contribute to better understanding between the Americas. They therefore generously offered to provide the steel for the mural and to provide the artist to paint it. The gift, an unusual gesture of Latin American friendship on the part of a group of U.S. businessmen, was dedicated on May 27, 1940.

At the time of its dedication, the work was said to be the first example of a mural on steel in any building. In preparing it, the steel was incised in all those sections that were to be covered by paint, and the paint itself, which was oil based, was applied in several coats, after which the whole was covered with a protective varnish. The basic advantages of this medium were that it offered a surface that could be detached and moved at will and that backgrounds of extreme brilliance would be achieved.

Columbus Coat of Arms in the Library of Congress Hispanic Reading Room 'Entry into the Forest' by Candido Portinari, 1942

What do the colorful images on the coat of arms represent? The answer is on the Hispanic Reading Room Web pages. The Hispanic Division of the Library was established in 1939. Through the generosity of countless donors, the division has amassed the world's finest collection on the history and culture of Latin America, Iberia and the Caribbean. You can visit the division in person on the second floor of the Thomas Jefferson Building and use its remarkable materials and see the Columbus Coat of Arms and the equally impressive Portinari Murals. Selected resources are also available online at http://www.loc.gov/rr/hispanic/hispdiv1.html.

A. Columbus Coat of Arms in the Library of Congress Hispanic Reading Room. Artist: Mrs. Buell Mullen. Commissioned by Allegheny Ludlum Steel Corp. Created 1940. Reproduction information: Contact Hispanic Division (202) 707-5397. Photo by Everette Larson, Hispanic Division.

B. "Entry into the Forest" by Candido Portinari, 1942. Hispanic Division, Library of Congress. Reproduction information: Contact Hispanic Division (202) 707-5397. Photo by Everette Larson, Hispanic Division.

RESEARCH CENTERS AND LIBRARY CATALOGS. Explore 22 reading rooms, each with its own Web page and searchable catalog of collections such as genealogy or science.
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RESEARCH CENTERS AND LIBRARY CATALOGS. Explore 22 reading rooms, each with its own Web page and searchable catalog of collections such as genealogy or science.