Rare Books Blog

September 24, 2011

A rare and intriguing portrayal of a two-faced Justice, titled “A Portrait of Worldly Justice,” comes from a popular sixteenth-century guide to civil procedure by the Flemish jurist Joost de Damhoudere. One face is sighted and the other has blindfolded eyes. The face of the sighted Justice looks toward her large sword, held upright in her right hand, while the face of the blindfolded Justice turns toward tipped scales in her left hand.

The sighted face has the well-to-do on its side, while the blindfolded face is turned toward the side with more needy-looking individuals, children included. Those on the sighted side of Justice personify largely negative qualities, such as the two labeled Argentum (Money) and Favor (Favor). Blindfolded Justice faces figures labeled Despectus (Contempt), Miseria (Misery), and Paupertas (Poverty). The legend below suggests the children (one of whom is disabled) are Innocentia (Innocence) and Veritas (Truth).

This imagery is accompanied by more than a dozen explanatory pages, beginning with a quote from Cicero: “Justice is the virtue, by which is granted to each what is his own.” Through this mélange of images and text, Damhoudere detailed his views on both divine and human justice. He explained that many turn to Justice, who is “repeatedly blind and deaf” to just causes.” Justice is “two-faced” – acting in a manner that appears even-handed but dissembling. Where she is “bound by a blindfold,” her eyes are shut to “clemency.” But the text has some ambiguity, for Damhoudere also commented that a “two-faced” Justice signified that she must “attend to each of the parties equally.”

Damhoudere, Joost de. Practique iudiciaire et causes civiles (Antwerp: Iean Bellere, 1572). Lillian Goldman Law Library.

Damhoudere, Joost de. Practycke in civile sacken (Rotterdam: Pieter van Waesberghe, 1660). Lillian Goldman Law Library.

“The Remarkable Run of a Political Icon: Justice as a Sign of the Law” is curated by Judith Resnik, Dennis Curtis, Allison Tait, and Mike Widener, and is on display Sept. 19-Dec. 16, 2011, in the Rare Book Exhibition Gallery, Level L2, Lillian Goldman Law Library, Yale Law School.

September 24, 2011

By the sixteenth century, the blindfold had come to be seen as a potentially positive constraint on earthly Justice, seen to be at risk of corruption or of misplaced passion. But Justices without blindfolds remained commonplace, as seen in the 1669 edition of the Republic of Genoa’s criminal statutes. The engraving is by Giuseppe Maria Testana (d. 1679), a printmaker and engraver whose works included allegorical images and portraits of popes, cardinals, and other public figures.

Genoa (Republic). Criminalium iurium serenissimae reipublicae Genuensis, libri duo (Genoa: Giovanni Battista Tiboldi, 1669). Lillian Goldman Law Library.

“The Remarkable Run of a Political Icon: Justice as a Sign of the Law” is curated by Judith Resnik, Dennis Curtis, Allison Tait, and Mike Widener, and is on display Sept. 19-Dec. 16, 2011, in the Rare Book Exhibition Gallery, Level L2, Lillian Goldman Law Library, Yale Law School.

September 24, 2011

The engraved title page of Bernard van Zutphen’s Practycke der nederlansche rechten van de daghelijcksche soo civile als criminele (Dutch Law and Practice in Civil and Criminal Matters) depicts a crowded and lively courtroom scene. At the center, the presiding jurist is seated behind a table and beneath a small statue of Justice, who holds scales and a sword; her thin blindfold is dimly visible. The densely populated courtroom, with seats filled by men, includes some spectators focusing on the court proceedings and others chatting – with dogs at their feet.

With minor variations, this same image can be found in several other volumes of that era, all illustrating how seventeenth-century town halls served as public gathering places, and court proceedings were ordinary events.

Zutphen, Bernhard van. Practycke der nederlansche rechten van de daghelijcksche soo civile als criminele questien (Leeuwarden: G. Sijbes, 1655). Lillian Goldman Law Library.

“The Remarkable Run of a Political Icon: Justice as a Sign of the Law” is curated by Judith Resnik, Dennis Curtis, Allison Tait, and Mike Widener, and is on display Sept. 19-Dec. 16, 2011, in the Rare Book Exhibition Gallery, Level L2, Lillian Goldman Law Library, Yale Law School.

September 24, 2011

A clear-sighted Justice is at the center of the frontispiece to a 1788 German edition of Cesare Beccaria’s On Crimes and Punishment, first published in 1764. Beccaria was an eighteenth-century Italian jurist, philosopher, and politician. His well-known treatise, condemning torture and the death penalty, remains a foundation for theories of punishment. Beccaria’s premises of reason, utility, and deterrence resulted in his rejection of executions.

Depicted is a Justice turning her eyes away, with scales, entangled with tools used in farming and industry, dangling by her side. She refuses the offering of a severed head by an executioner. Her posture enacts the position adopted today by those seeking to abolish the death penalty. The illustration was based on a sketch drawn by Beccaria himself.

Beccaria, Cesare. Von Verbrechen und Strafen (Breslau: Johann Friedrich Korn, 1788). Lillian Goldman Law Library.

“The Remarkable Run of a Political Icon: Justice as a Sign of the Law” is curated by Judith Resnik, Dennis Curtis, Allison Tait, and Mike Widener, and is on display Sept. 19-Dec. 16, 2011, in the Rare Book Exhibition Gallery, Level L2, Lillian Goldman Law Library, Yale Law School.

September 24, 2011

Dumont, Jean. Corps universel diplomatique du droit des gens (8 vols.; Amsterdam: P. Brunel [etc.], 1726-31), vol 1. Lillian Goldman Law Library.

Jean Dumont’s Corps universel diplomatique du droit des gens (The Universal Diplomacy of the Laws of Men) is a compilation of European treaties beginning in the time of Charlemagne in the tenth century. The engraved frontispiece, entitled “Traitez de Paix” (Peace Treaties), is by Bernard Picart (1673-1733), who was considered a “magnificent engraver.” In the background, the Virtues Justice and Peace (both clear-eyed half-naked women) embrace. They are seated on a pedestal and surrounded by other Virtues, all labeled and including Fortitude, Wisdom, Natural Law, and Truth.

The French text below the engraving explains that the two male figures at the center are kings “swearing an alliance” that is confirmed through a handshake above a chalice-shaped urn in which a fire burns. Each of the men bears a palm, symbolizing peace, and ministers and counselors surround each. At the bottom, War is enchaining Ambition, Discord, Fraud, and Impiety. At the top of the frame, the eye of Providence looks down from thundering clouds from which harpies emerge.

The picture of two persons clasping hands over a fire occurs often in diplomatic imagery of this era and signifies “bona fides” (good faith) or “pacta sunt servanda” (promises must be kept). The depiction’s iconic weight resulted in variations being used in seventeenth-century wedding poems, with husband and wife clasping hands to symbolize their union.

A simplified version of the Picart image made its way into the logo of the Permanent Court of Arbitration, established in 1907 at the Hague. A facsimile of the logo used by the Court until 2007 shows the artistic borrowing.

 

“The Remarkable Run of a Political Icon: Justice as a Sign of the Law” is curated by Judith Resnik, Dennis Curtis, Allison Tait, and Mike Widener, and is on display Sept. 19-Dec. 16, 2011, in the Rare Book Exhibition Gallery, Level L2, Lillian Goldman Law Library, Yale Law School.

 

September 24, 2011

This glimpse at the imagery of Justice makes plain the richness of its history and signification. Didactic emblems addressed fears of corruption, of irrational authority, and an absence of even-handedness. Blindfolds, double-headed Justices, and handless judges captured some of these stresses.

Yet recall that Justice iconography was once far more varied. Within a century after Ripa, his seven Justices had been distilled into one stock figure identified by scales and sword. And Ripa’s mention of a blindfold as a marker of the obligation that Justice not be “tempted away from using reason” came to be an expected accoutrement.

The images in this exhibit are a testament to the normative enterprise that built public courts of law and sought to elaborate the import and obligations of law. The movement away from public adjudication is a problem for democracies because adjudication has important contributions to make to democracy. Adjudication is itself a democratic process, which reconfigures power as it obliges disputants and judges to treat each other as equals. The scales, the attribute of Justice with the longest history (dating back to Babylonia and Egypt), evoke the evenhandedness to which judges aspire today.

Our excursion into Justice iconography aims to appreciate but not to romanticize the roots of the didactic practices surrounding adjudication. While old images remain legible, courts in today’s democracies are new inventions – benefits of political and social movements insistent on equality, dignity, and fairness for all. But these aspirations have yet to be realized, just as a visual vocabulary to match those ideas remains under-developed. Whether political will exists to support both the infrastructure of courts and access for all those now eligible to use courts is in question, and hence, the ability of courts to provide active sites of public exchange before independent judges cannot be taken for granted.

Image: Decorative headpiece from Johann Stephan Pütter, Patriotische Abbildung des heutigen Zustandes beyler höchsten Reichsgerichte (Frankfurt & Leipzig, 1756). Lillian Goldman Law Library (German Law Collection of the Association of the Bar of the City of New York).

“The Remarkable Run of a Political Icon: Justice as a Sign of the Law” is curated by Judith Resnik, Dennis Curtis, Allison Tait, and Mike Widener, and is on display Sept. 19-Dec. 16, 2011, in the Rare Book Exhibition Gallery, Level L2, Lillian Goldman Law Library, Yale Law School.

September 24, 2011

Thanks to the following individuals and institutions for their assistance in preparing this exhibit:

Kathryn James
Curator for Early Modern Books and Manuscripts,
Beinecke Rare Book & Manuscript Library, Yale University

Nicholas Salazar
Graduate School of Arts & Sciences, Yale University

Shana Jackson
Lillian Goldman Law Library

Drew Adan
Lillian Goldman Law Library

Image:Frontispiece from Maximae juris celebriores, deductae ex jure canonico, civili, glossa (Tyrnaviae: Typis Academicis, S. Jesu, 1742). Lillian Goldman Law Library.

“The Remarkable Run of a Political Icon: Justice as a Sign of the Law” is curated by Judith Resnik, Dennis Curtis, Allison Tait, and Mike Widener, and is on display Sept. 19-Dec. 16, 2011, in the Rare Book Exhibition Gallery, Level L2, Lillian Goldman Law Library, Yale Law School.

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