Art History Mystery, Part 2

figure-2In the previous post, I detailed how the figure to the left of Moses must be Sir William Blackstone. I had thought that the figure to the right of Moses was King Solomon. The iconography of the throne, crown, royal purple, and scales all point to Solomon. However, this figure is beardless, and artists have traditionally depicted Solomon as a bearded, often old, king (see, e.g., a ninth-century German illuminated Bible, and Renaissance depictions such as the panel of Solomon meeting the Queen of Sheba panel from Ghiberti’s famed “Golden Doors” of the Florentine Baptistry, and also the fresco by Piero della Fransceca in Arezzo). On the other hand, artists from later centuries did portray the famous ruler as clean-shaven (see, e.g., this 18th-century Russian icon, and an engraving by the 19th-century master Gustav Doré).

However, noticeably absent from the stained glass was any iconography of a sword (cf. ‘splitting the baby’ from 1 Kings 3:16-28). A fellow law student held that the figure was really King David.

One authority, though, holds that the figure is neither David nor Solomon. During his spring 2008 visit to the law school, Judge Pryor of the US Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit, who had identified Blackstone, offered Lady Justice as the likely candidate. This would account for the beardlessness, and the classic imagery of the scales is present. However, absent are the iconic sword and blindfold, and Lady Justice usually is not crowned. It’s a tough call. I welcome feedback to solve this art history mystery….

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Art History Mystery, Part 1

blackstoneAs I have always loved stained glass windows, one of my favorite locations in the law school is Eisenberg Hall. However, the trio of figures in the north set of windows bear no label, so I was curious about their exact identity. The center figure holding the stone tablets of the Law is of course Moses. Following this Biblical theme of lawgivers, I surmised that the figure to the right (as one looks at Moses) seated on the throne was King Solomon (more on the next blog post).  I also guessed that the figure to the left, in the judicial wig, was likely the 18th century jurist Sir William Blackstone. I also considered Sir Isaac Newton, as some images of Newton depict him with the typical 18th-century long wig and cravat (see e.g., the 1-pound note from the Bank of England). However, in these depictions, Netwon lacks the black robes that the figure in the stained glass wears. And while he divined the Laws of Nature, Newton would not be the most obvious choice for a law school library reading room (unless perhaps the artists were commenting drolly on the gravity of legal tomes).

As stained glass was the Scripture for the (often illiterate) medieval masses, I wanted to know for certain who the two figures flanking Moses were. Accordingly, within the first few weeks of Law School (September 11, 2007, to be exact), at an evening social in Eisenberg, I asked Dean Kearney, and he enjoined me with the task to find out.

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Professional Responsibility: One Marine’s Example

As I was driving home the evening of Memorial Day, I happened upon Terry Gross’ Fresh Air. She was interviewing former Marine Donovan Campbell. From the NPR site:

Campbell served three combat deployments, two in Iraq and one in Afghanistan. In Iraq, he commanded Joker One, a platoon of new Marines that he trained and transformed into a fighting unit. They were assigned to Ramadi, the capital of the Sunni-dominated Anbar province where they engaged in daily house-to-house combat with insurgents. Campbell has written a memoir about his experiences with the platoon called Joker One: A Marine Platoon’s Story of Courage, Leadership, and Brotherhood.

You can read the NY Times Book Review here.  Among other accolades, Campbell was awarded the Bronze Star with Valor. I can proudly declare that Donovan and I were high school classmates in Texas. Accordingly, I can personally attest that Donovan was then (and surely remains) a man of the highest integrity, in and outside the classroom, and on and off the sports field, where he excelled as a true scholar-athlete.

One episode from the angst-ridden days of high school illustrates Donovan’s character. I fondly recall that the spring semester senior year he gave up time from track-and-field and made a self-effacing foray into “my” realm of thespian endeavors, donning Musketeer garb as a commedia dell’arte palace guard in Carlo Gozzi’s Il Re Cervo (The King Stag) and standing ramrod-straight and bellowing “Sir, Yes, Sir!” USMC-boot-camp style.

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