The Rotunda, City Hall Park


A building that stood in City Hall Park in Lower Manhattan, New York City, from 1818 to 1870.The Rotunda was built at the initiative of American artist John Vanderlyn to display panoramic paintings. According to historians Edwin G. Burrows and Mike Wallace, Vanderlyn was motivated by the refusal of the city's cultural elite to include paintings such as his nude Ariadne Asleep on the Island of Naxos in public exhibitions on the grounds that it was an affront to public decency. Backed by John Jacob Astor and other wealthy New Yorkers, he built The Rotunda. Widely regarded as the city's first art museum, it operated on a commercial footing.The building was designed on the model of The Pantheon in Rome. It was fifty-six feet in diameter, crowned with a thirty-foot dome.The Rotunda opened in 1818 to display Vanderlyn's Panoramic View of the Palace and Gardens of Versailles, a cyclorama now on display in a purpose-built, circular room in the American Wing of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, in New York City. In the painting, to the right of the Latona Fountain, Vanderlyn painted himself pointing towards Czar Alexander I of Russia and King Frederick William III of Prussia.In time its use changed to housing government agencies, and the building was altered accordingly.

Constructed, 1818
Torn Down, 1870
Dedication, May, 1981

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