Department of Justice, George Biddle, "Society Freed Through Justice," 1936, fresco
“In 1935, when the U.S. Department of Justice building was completed, a 150-year-old government entity was finally provided with its first permanent home…
While the overall building design conforms with a consistent design vocabulary established in the Federal Triangle, it is distinguished by Art Deco architectural elements and its innovative use of aluminum for details that were traditionally cast in bronze. All entrances to the building feature 20-foot-high aluminum doors that slide into recessed pockets. Interior stair railings, grilles, and door trim are aluminum, as are Art Deco torcheres, doors for the building’s 25 elevators, and more than 10,000 light fixtures…
The building has many distinctive interior spaces, including the handsome Great Hall and the Law Library. The two-story Great Hall features Art Deco light fixtures and a terra-cotta tile floor with gray marble borders. The Law Library, located on the fifth floor, is a two-story room distinguished by a pair of tall Art Deco lights and a 20-panel mural by Maurice Sterne…
The interior of the U.S. Department of Justice building contains many decorative wall paintings. The building’s extensive murals depict scenes of daily life from throughout American history and symbolic interpretations or allegorical themes relating to the role of justice in our society. In all, 68 murals were completed between 1935 and 1941, at a cost of $68,000–one percent of the cost of the building.
The striking, colorful concrete mosaics that enrich the ceilings of the vehicular and pedestrian entryways from Ninth and Tenth Streets were created by the Washington, DC., master craftsman John Joseph Earley, an innovator in the aesthetic applications of the material. Visible from the street, these mosaics retain much of the brilliance of their original colors.” (https://www.gsa.gov)
Painted art at the Department of Justice includes a multi-paneled fresco “Society Freed through Justice” by George Biddle (1936).
"The New Deal: A 75th Anniversary Celebration." Kathryn Flynn with Richard Polese. https://www.gsa.gov/portal/ext/html/site/hb/category/25431/actionParameter/exploreByBuilding/buildingId/321
Project originally submitted by Charles Swaney on March 14, 2014.