Detail of Bisttram, "Contemporary Justice and Woman," Dept of Justice - Washington DC
The New Deal is responsible for a magnificent array of artworks that embellish the Department of Justice building. The Treasury Section of Fine Arts commissioned artists to create 68 murals between 1936 and 1941 for $68,000, or one percent of the building cost. The building’s murals depict scenes of daily life from American history and allegories on the role of justice in American society.
Emil Bisttram painted an oil on canvas mural, “Contemporary Justice and Woman” (1939).
“This intricate oil-on-canvas mural shows a figure of Justice cutting the chains of tradition, which is represented by an old crouching shrew that had bound women. In the background, a freed woman heads toward the light of her new position in the world. The eight small panels on both sides depict women engaged in their newfound roles.” (DOJ 2009)
The Bisttram mural is on display in the lobby of the Constitution Avenue entrance.
U.S. Department of Justice, The Robert F. Kennedy Building: Celebrating Art and Architecture on the 75th Anniversary, 1934-2009, p. 26.
Project originally submitted by Charles Swaney on March 14, 2014.
Additional contributions by Richard Walker.
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