The above picture is what sparked my interest in Elihu Vedder after I saw it in the Carnegie Museum of Art in Pittsburgh.
Elihu Vedder may not be a familiar name to conspiracy buffs but some of his art is. Specifically, his mosaics found throughout the Library of Congress, such as this mosaic of the goddess Minerva.
From the exhibit caption:
"Pictured on this mosaic in the arched panel is the Roman Goddess Minerva--guardian of civilization. She is portrayed as the Minerva of Peace, but according to the artist who created her, Elihu Vedder (American painter, 1836–1923), the peace and prosperity that she enjoys was attained only through warfare. A little statue of Nike, a representation of Victory, similar to those erected by ancient Greeks to commemorate their success in battle, stands next to Minerva. The figure is a winged female standing on a globe and holding out a laurel wreath (victory) and palm branch (peace) to the victors.
- Shield and Helmet: Although Minerva's shield and helmet have been laid upon the ground, the goddess still holds a long, two-headed spear, showing that she never relaxes her vigilance against the enemies of the country that she protects.
- Scroll: Her attention is directed to an unfolded scroll that she holds in her left hand. On this is written a list of various fields of learning, such as Architecture, Law, Statistics, Sociology, Botany, Biography, Mechanics, Philosophy, Zoology, etc. Minerva is therefore also the Goddess of Learning, an activity that can thrive in a peaceful society.
- Owl: On Minerva's right is an owl, symbolizing wisdom, perched upon the post of a low parapet.
- Inscription: Beneath the mosaic is an inscription from Horace's Ars Poetica: Nil invita Minerva, quae monumentum aere perennius exegit, and translated as, Not unwilling, Minerva raises a monument more lasting than bronze."
You can find a Vedder's complete works here.
Here is a great documentary about the art and architecture of Washington D.C.