United States Commission of Fine Arts
The United States Commission of Fine Arts (CFA), established in 1910 by an act of Congress, is an advisory agency of the Federal government
Federal government of the United States
The federal government of the United States is the national government of the constitutional republic of fifty states that is the United States of America. The federal government comprises three distinct branches of government: a legislative, an executive and a judiciary. These branches and...


The CFA is mandated to review and provide advice on "matters of design and aesthetics", involving federal projects and planning
Urban planning
Urban planning incorporates areas such as economics, design, ecology, sociology, geography, law, political science, and statistics to guide and ensure the orderly development of settlements and communities....

 in Washington, D.C.
Washington, D.C.
Washington, D.C., formally the District of Columbia and commonly referred to as Washington, "the District", or simply D.C., is the capital of the United States. On July 16, 1790, the United States Congress approved the creation of a permanent national capital as permitted by the U.S. Constitution....

  In accordance with the Old Georgetown Act, the CFA advises on matters of historic preservation
Historic preservation
Historic preservation is an endeavor that seeks to preserve, conserve and protect buildings, objects, landscapes or other artifacts of historical significance...

 in the Georgetown
Georgetown, Washington, D.C.
Georgetown is a neighborhood located in northwest Washington, D.C., situated along the Potomac River. Founded in 1751, the port of Georgetown predated the establishment of the federal district and the City of Washington by 40 years...

 neighborhood in Washington, and other areas adjacent to "federal interests", in accordance with the Shipstead-Luce Act, authored by Minnesota
Minnesota is a U.S. state located in the Midwestern United States. The twelfth largest state of the U.S., it is the twenty-first most populous, with 5.3 million residents. Minnesota was carved out of the eastern half of the Minnesota Territory and admitted to the Union as the thirty-second state...

 Senator Henrik Shipstead
Henrik Shipstead
Henrik Shipstead was an American politician. He served in the United States Senate from March 4, 1923, to January 3, 1947, from the state of Minnesota in the 68th, 69th, 70th, 71st, 72nd, 73rd, 74th, 75th, 76th, 77th, 78th, and 79th Congresses...

 and Michigan
Michigan is a U.S. state located in the Great Lakes Region of the United States of America. The name Michigan is the French form of the Ojibwa word mishigamaa, meaning "large water" or "large lake"....

 Congressman Henry Luce
Henry Luce
Henry Robinson Luce was an influential American publisher. He launched and closely supervised a stable of magazines that transformed journalism and the reading habits of upscale Americans...


The CFA mandate does not apply to the United States Capitol
United States Capitol
The United States Capitol is the meeting place of the United States Congress, the legislature of the federal government of the United States. Located in Washington, D.C., it sits atop Capitol Hill at the eastern end of the National Mall...

, the Library of Congress
Library of Congress
The Library of Congress is the research library of the United States Congress, de facto national library of the United States, and the oldest federal cultural institution in the United States. Located in three buildings in Washington, D.C., it is the largest library in the world by shelf space and...

, or the other properties and locations overseen by the Architect of the Capitol
Architect of the Capitol
The Architect of the Capitol is the federal agency responsible for the maintenance, operation, development, and preservation of the United States Capitol Complex, and also the head of that agency. The Architect of the Capitol is in the legislative branch and is responsible to the United States...



In the context of the McMillan Plan
McMillan Plan
The McMillan Plan was an architectural plan for the development of Washington, D.C., formulated in 1902 by the Senate Park Improvement Commission of the District of Columbia which had been formed by Congress the previous year.-United States Park Commission:...

 for the capital city, President Theodore Roosevelt
Theodore Roosevelt
Theodore "Teddy" Roosevelt was the 26th President of the United States . He is noted for his exuberant personality, range of interests and achievements, and his leadership of the Progressive Movement, as well as his "cowboy" persona and robust masculinity...

 created the Council of Fine Arts by executive order in 1909. He appointed the following thirty men to this aesthetic review board, reflecting the "official tastemakers" of the day: architects Cass Gilbert
Cass Gilbert
- Historical impact :Gilbert is considered a skyscraper pioneer; when designing the Woolworth Building he moved into unproven ground — though he certainly was aware of the ground-breaking work done by Chicago architects on skyscrapers and once discussed merging firms with the legendary Daniel...

, C. Grant La Farge
Heins & LaFarge
The New York-based architectural firm of Heins & LaFarge, composed of Philadelphia-born architect George Lewis Heins and Christopher Grant LaFarge - the eldest son of the artist John LaFarge, famous especially for his stained glass panels - were responsible most notably for the original...

, Walter Cook, William A. Boring
William A. Boring
William Alciphron Boring was an American architect noted for codesigning the Immigration Station at Ellis Island in New York harbor....

, S.B.P. Trowbridge
Trowbridge & Livingston
Trowbridge & Livingston was an architectural practice based in New York City in the early 20th century. The firm's partners were Samuel Beck Parkman Trowbridge and Goodhue Livingston ....

, John G. Howard, Glenn Brown, Thomas Rogers Kimball
Thomas Rogers Kimball
Thomas Rogers Kimball was an American architect in Omaha, Nebraska. An architect-in-chief of the Trans-Mississippi Exposition in Omaha in 1898, he served as national President of the American Institute of Architects from 1918–1920 and from 1919-1932 served on the Nebraska State Capitol...

, John Mauran
John Mauran
John Lawrence Mauran, FAIA was an American architect responsible for many downtown landmarks in St. Louis, Missouri, and also active in Texas.- Life :...

, Daniel Burnham
Daniel Burnham
Daniel Hudson Burnham, FAIA was an American architect and urban planner. He was the Director of Works for the World's Columbian Exposition in Chicago. He took a leading role in the creation of master plans for the development of a number of cities, including Chicago and downtown Washington DC...

, John M. Donaldson
John M. Donaldson
John M. Donaldson was an American architect and artist born on January 17, 1854, in Stirling, Scotland. Donaldson was principal designer of the successful Detroit-based architectural firm Donaldson and Meier from 1880 onwards.-Early years:...

, George B. Post
George B. Post
George Browne Post was an American architect trained in the Beaux-Arts tradition.-Biography:Post was a student of Richard Morris Hunt , but unlike many architects of his generation, he had previously received a degree in civil engineering...

, Arnold Brunner
Arnold Brunner
Arnold William Brunner was an American architect who was born and died in New York City. Brunner was educated in New York and in Manchester, England. He attended Massachusetts Institute of Technology, where he studied under William R. Ware. Early in his career, he worked in the architectural...

, Robert Swain Peabody
Robert Swain Peabody
Robert Swain Peabody was a prominent Boston architect....

, Charles Follen McKim
Charles Follen McKim
Charles Follen McKim FAIA was an American Beaux-Arts architect of the late 19th century. Along with Stanford White, he provided the architectural expertise as a member of the partnership McKim, Mead, and White....

, William S. Eames, James Rush Marshall, Abram Garfield, Frank Miles Day, William B. Mundie, and C. Howard Walker. Painters John La Farge, Francis Davis Millet
Francis Davis Millet
Francis Davis Millet was an American painter, sculptor, and writer who died in the sinking of the on April 15, 1912.-Early life:Francis Davis Millet was born in Mattapoisett, Massachusetts...

, Edwin Blashfield
Edwin Blashfield
Edwin Howland Blashfield , an American artist, was born in New York City.He was a pupil of Léon Joseph Florentin Bonnat in Paris beginning in 1867, and became a member of the National Academy of Design in New York...

, and Kenyon Cox
Kenyon Cox
Kenyon Cox was an American painter, illustrator, muralist, writer, and teacher. Cox was an influential and important early instructor at the Art Students League of New York...

. Sculptors Daniel Chester French
Daniel Chester French
Daniel Chester French was an American sculptor. His best-known work is the sculpture of a seated Abraham Lincoln at the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, D.C.-Life and career:...

, Herbert Adams, Hermon Atkins MacNeil
Hermon Atkins MacNeil
Hermon Atkins MacNeil was an American sculptor born in Chelsea, Massachusetts.He was an instructor in industrial art at Cornell University from 1886 to 1889, and was then a pupil of Henri M. Chapu and Alexandre Falguière in Paris...

, Karl Bitter
Karl Bitter
Karl Theodore Francis Bitter was an Austrian-born United States sculptor best known for his architectural sculpture, memorials and residential work.- Life and career :...

; and landscape architect Frederick Law Olmsted, Jr.
Frederick Law Olmsted, Jr.
Frederick Law Olmsted, Jr. was an American landscape architect best known for his wildlife conservation efforts. He had a lifetime commitment to national parks, and worked on projects in Acadia, the Everglades and Yosemite National Park. Olmsted Point in Yosemite and Olmsted Island at Great Falls...

. The Fine Arts Council was a false start, and was immediately embroiled in controversy. The Council met only once.

The succeeding Council of Fine Arts, created by Act of Congress in the William Howard Taft
William Howard Taft
William Howard Taft was the 27th President of the United States and later the tenth Chief Justice of the United States...

 administration, was organized with only seven members, and Taft made Daniel Burnham
Daniel Burnham
Daniel Hudson Burnham, FAIA was an American architect and urban planner. He was the Director of Works for the World's Columbian Exposition in Chicago. He took a leading role in the creation of master plans for the development of a number of cities, including Chicago and downtown Washington DC...

 the chairman. Burnham's chairmanship was significant; it was his work at the World's Columbian Exposition
World's Columbian Exposition
The World's Columbian Exposition was a World's Fair held in Chicago in 1893 to celebrate the 400th anniversary of Christopher Columbus's arrival in the New World in 1492. Chicago bested New York City; Washington, D.C.; and St...

 and the Burnham Plan
Burnham Plan
The Burnham Plan is a popular name for the 1909 Plan of Chicago, co-authored by Daniel Burnham and Edward H. Bennett. It recommended an integrated series of projects including new and widened streets, parks, new railroad and harbor facilities, and civic buildings...

 for Chicago that was the principle influence on the creation of the McMillan Plan to begin with.

Since then the seven seats on the CFA have been held by figures like J. Alden Weir
J. Alden Weir
Julian Alden Weir was an American impressionist painter and member of the Cos Cob Art Colony near Greenwich, Connecticut...

, Paul Manship
Paul Manship
Paul Howard Manship was an American sculptor.-Life:Manship began his art studies at the St. Paul School of Art in Minnesota. From there he moved to Philadelphia and continued his education at the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts...

, Frederick Hart
Frederick Hart
Frederick Hart or Freddie Hart may refer to:* Freddie Hart , American country musician* Frederick Hart , American sculptor-See also:*Frederick Hartt, professor of History of Art...

, George Biddle
George Biddle
George Biddle was an American artist best known for his social realism, combat art, and his strong advocacy of government-sponsored art projects...

 and Lee Lawrie
Lee Lawrie
Lee Oscar Lawrie was one of the United States' foremost architectural sculptors and a key figure in the American art scene preceding World War II...

. Current members include Elizabeth Plater-Zyberk
Elizabeth Plater-Zyberk
Elizabeth Plater-Zyberk is an American architect and urban planner of Polish aristocratic roots based in Miami, Florida...

 and Witold Rybczynski
Witold Rybczynski
Witold Rybczynski , is a Canadian-American architect, professor and writer.Rybczynski was born in Edinburgh of Polish parentage and raised in Surrey, England before moving at a young age to Canada. He attended Loyola High School , located on Sherbrooke street, in Montreal-Ouest...


In May 2008, the Commission, which has final approval on all elements of the Martin Luther King, Jr. National Memorial
Martin Luther King, Jr. National Memorial
The Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial is located in West Potomac Park in Washington, D.C., southwest of the National Mall . The memorial is America's 395th national park...

, raised concerns about "the colossal scale and Social Realist style of the proposed sculpture" noting that it "recalls a genre of political sculpture that has recently been pulled down in other countries." The letter, and the ensuing publicity, brought the controversial use of Chinese slave labor in marble and a Chinese sculptor to the attention of the greater public.


The current members of the Commission are:
  • Earl A. Powell III, Chair, Appointed 18 May 2008
  • Pamela Nelson, Vice-Chair, Appointed 18 September 2005
  • John Belle, Appointed 21 April 2005
  • N. Michael McKinnell, Appointed 1 December 2005
  • Diana Balmori, Appointed 18 May 2008
  • Elizabeth Plater-Zyberk, Appointed 18 May 2008
  • Witold Rybczynski, Appointed 16 June 2008

External links

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