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The Four Justices

The Four Justices
Usage Conditions Apply
Nelson Shanks, 23 Dec 1937 - 28 Aug 2015
Sonia Maria Sotomayor, born 25 Jun 1954
Elena Kagan, born 28 Apr 1960
Sandra Day O'Connor, 26 Mar 1930 - 1 Dec 2023
Ruth Bader Ginsburg, 15 Mar 1933 - 18 Sep 2020
Oil on canvas
Frame-approximately: 294.6 × 242.6 cm (116 × 95 1/2")
Stretcher-from artist: 216.1 × 169.2 cm (85 1/16 × 66 5/8")
Printed Material\Book
Home Furnishings\Mirror
Home Furnishings\Furniture\Seating\Sofa
Home Furnishings\Curtain
Home Furnishings\Pillow
Sandra Day O'Connor: Female
Sandra Day O'Connor: Law and Crime\Lawyer
Sandra Day O'Connor: Law and Crime\Judge\Justice\US Supreme Court Justice
Sandra Day O'Connor: Education and Scholarship\Administrator\University administrator\Chancellor
Sandra Day O'Connor: Politics and Government\State Senator\Arizona
Sandra Day O'Connor: Presidential Medal of Freedom
Ruth Bader Ginsburg: Female
Ruth Bader Ginsburg: Law and Crime\Judge
Ruth Bader Ginsburg: Law and Crime\Judge\Justice\US Supreme Court Justice
Sonia Maria Sotomayor: Female
Sonia Maria Sotomayor: Law and Crime\Lawyer
Sonia Maria Sotomayor: Law and Crime\Judge\Justice\US Supreme Court Justice
Elena Kagan: Female
Elena Kagan: Law and Crime\Lawyer
Elena Kagan: Law and Crime\Judge\Justice\US Supreme Court Justice
Elena Kagan: Education and Scholarship\Educator\Professor\Law
Credit Line
National Portrait Gallery, Smithsonian Institution; gift of Annette P. Cumming
Restrictions & Rights
Usage conditions apply
© Estate of Nelson Shanks
Object number
Exhibition Label
Counterclockwise from bottom left: Sandra Day O’Connor born 1930; Ruth Bader Ginsburg 1933-2020; Elena Kagan born 1960; and Sonia Sotomayor born 1954
In 1880, Belva Lockwood became the first woman to argue before the Supreme Court. Distinguished jurist Florence Allen was considered for the Supreme Court in the 1940s, but opposition, including from the sitting justices, precluded her nomination. It was not until 1981 that Sandra Day O’Connor became the first woman to serve as a Supreme Court justice. Over ten years later, in 1993, Ruth Bader Ginsburg was nominated by President Clinton. Until 2020, Ginsburg served alongside Sonia Sotomayor and Elena Kagan, who were nominated to the Supreme Court in 2009 and 2010, respectively.
The Cummings commissioned this portrait to recognize the accomplishments of all four justices. Justice O’Connor’s office arranged their busy schedules so that they could pose at the same time for Nelson Shanks and his camera. The artist drew on the traditions of Dutch group portraiture, and the setting is based on interiors and a courtyard within the Supreme Court Building in Washington, D.C.
En contra del reloj, desde la izquierda inferior: Sandra Day O’Connor, n. 1930; Ruth Bader Ginsburg, n. 1933; Elena Kagan, n. 1960; Sonia Sotomayor, n. 1954
En 1880, Belva Lockwood se convirtió en la primera mujer que litigó un caso ante el Tribunal Supremo. En la década de 1940, la distinguida jurista Florence Allen fue considerada para integrar dicho tribunal, pero la oposición, incluso de los propios jueces, impidió su nominación. No fue hasta 1981 que Sandra Day O’Connor pasó a ser la primera mujer en el Tribunal Supremo. Más de diez años después, en 1993, Ruth Bader Ginsburg fue nominada por el presidente Clinton. Hoy, Ginsburg labora en el Tribunal Supremo junto a Sonia Sotomayor y Elena Kagan, nominadas en 2009 y 2010, respectivamente.
Los Cumming encargaron este retrato en homenaje a los logros de estas cuatro juezas. La oficina de la jueza O’Connor coordinó sus ocupadas agendas para que pudieran posar juntas para Nelson Shanks y su cámara. El artista se inspiró en la tradición de los retratos de grupo holandeses. La ambientación se basa en el interior y un patio del edificio del Tribunal Supremo en Washington D.C.
Data Source
National Portrait Gallery
The Four Justices
On View
NPG, South Gallery 230