Discovery of the Mississippi

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Hernando de Soto’s Discovery of the Mississippi (Credit: Architect of the Capitol)

Discovery of the Mississippi by de Soto

William H. Powell was the last artist to be commissioned by the Congress for a painting in the Rotunda. His dramatic and brilliantly colored canvas shows Spanish conqueror and explorer Hernando de Soto, riding a white horse, the first European to view the Mississippi River, in 1541. As de Soto and his troops approach, the Native Americans in front of their tepees watch, and a chief holds out a peace pipe. In the foreground is a jumble of weapons and soldiers, suggesting the attack they had suffered shortly before. To the right, a monk prays as a crucifix is set in the ground. (Credit: Architect of the Capitol)