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“The Four Justices”

“The Four Justices”: This painting will be on display at the National Portrait Gallery for three years. (Nelson Shanks/Ian and Annette Cumming Collection)

“The Four Justices”: This painting will be on display at the National Portrait Gallery for three years. (Nelson Shanks/Ian and Annette Cumming Collection)

What’s it like when the first four female Supreme Court Justices get together to sit for one oil portrait? “Semi-controlled chaos,” artist Nelson Shanks told us. The painting, unveiled Monday at the National Portrait Gallery, took not quite eight weeks to complete, and involved a very “upbeat” four-hour portrait session with the justices all talking and joking. “They’re tremendously good friends,” said museum director Kim Sajet. “They joke around a lot, and they respect each other a lot.” Sandra Day O’Connor, Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Sonia Sotomayor and Elena Kagan are scheduled to attend a private gathering Monday night at the gallery to celebrate the painting, which was first commissioned by art collectors Ian and Annette Cumming about two years ago. And no, it’s not a coincidence that O’Connor and Ginsburg are the ones seated on the couch, in a room based on the Supreme Court Building — Sotomayor and Kagan are the relative newbies, so they had to stand.  —Link


Moving Forward

nfoa-solitude“Elizabeth Cady Stanton was a defiant old lady.  The beginning of the 1890s coincided with the onset of Stanton’s old age…During the 1880s and 1890s Stanton had to contend with the symptoms of aging:  physical ailments, retirement, financial insecurity, death of friends, family estrangement and generational conflict.  But those factors did not define or dominate her old age…She had survived her husband, outlived most of her enemies, and exhausted her allies.  Her mind remained alert, her mood optimistic and her manner combative.

sba_ecs1_rc“In a period of anticipated and actual dependence for most older people, Stanton became increasingly independent.  Personally, she had established the kind of “associative household” she had long advocated and enjoyed her “matriarchy.”  Professionally, she supported herself by writing, completing her autobiography and The Women’s Bible in addition to numerous speeches, articles and newspaper columns.  Politically, she remained aloof from the merger of rival factions in the [women’s] movement…Psychologically, she shed the last vestiges of dependence.  She moved beyond her last confidante, Susan B. Anthony, and came to rely wholly on her own judgment and values…As an old woman, Stanton came into her own.  She was honored as a feminist foremother and as a grandmother.  She was self-supporting and self-sustaining.  Physically crippled, she was otherwise unfettered. …  She had internalized her own standard of independence and needed only her own approval.”– Elisabeth Griffith in In Her Own Right:  The Life of Elizabeth Cady Stanton, Chapter 11, Self Sovereign, 1889-1902

“Farewell to Our Feminist-in-Chief”

“If you take Hillary Clinton moment by moment–if you take her, for example, at this moment on January 26, as she announces that she’ll step down from her position as the Secretary of State when the president’s terms ends–it’s hard to imagine that she’s spent the last two decades of her life as one of the most hated women in America. And if you take her on the whole, the void left by her promised departure from American politics is nearly impossible to comprehend.”


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