Extract from Thomas Jefferson to Benjamin Henry Latrobe

It is with real pain I oppose myself to your passion for the lanthern, and that in a matter of taste, I differ from a professor in his own art. but the object of the artist is lost if he fails to please the general eye. you know my reverence for the Graecian & Roman style of architecture. I do not believe recollect ever to have seen in their buildings a single instance of a lanthern, Cupola, or belfry. I have ever supposed the Cupola an Italian invention, produced by the introduction of bells on the churches, and one of the instances of degeneracy in degeneracies of modern architecture. I confess they are most offensive to my eye, and a particular observation has strengthened my disgust at them. in the project for the central part of the Capitol which you were so kind as to give me, there is something of this kind on the crown of the dome. the drawing was exhibited for the view of the members, in the president’s house, and the disapprobation of that feature in the drawing was very general. on the whole I cannot be afraid of having our dome like that of the Pantheon, on which had a lanthern been placed it [w]ould never have obtained that degree of admiration in which it is now held by the world.

PoC (DLC).
Thomas Jefferson
Benjamin Henry Latrobe
Date Range
April 22, 1807
Quotes by and about Thomas Jefferson
Quote Category