"Law Through the Ages" Rotunda Mural
This building, formerly known as the New York County Courthouse, contains several large New Deal murals created by a variety of artists, begun under the Public Works of Art Program (PWAP) in 1934 and continued under the WPA’s Federal Art Project. Most of the murals were painted by Attilio Pusterla with the help of several assistants.
The vestibule ceiling contains brightly painted murals by Pusterla and his assistants painted in a “grand Italian decorative style” (nytimes). The subject of these murals is the administration of justice, and the murals depict many allegorical figures representing Truth, Error, Protection, Security, Army and Navy among others.
The rotunda is even more dramatic. The Historical Society of the New York Courts describes the rotunda: “[it] is 200 feet in circumference and rises 75 feet to a cupola 30 feet in height, 20 feet across, with 10 stained glass windows and clerestory. It was not until the mid-1930s, however, that work commenced on the renowned Courthouse murals” (nycourts.gov). These murals were completed by Pusterla and his assistants between 1934 and 1936 and depict the history of law. The six lunettes “depict the law across different civilizations. Assyrian and Egyptian, Hebraic and Persian, Greek and Roman, Byzantine and Frankish, English and American civilizations are illustrated on the six lunettes. Above the seated figures are portraits of six lawgivers: Hammurabi, Moses, Solomon, Justinian, Blackstone and John Marshall” (untappedcities.com).
The fourth floor contains further treasures. Jury room 448 contains a series of murals by Robert Ryland depicting historical New York Scenes. In the adjoining jury room 452, Pusterla, along with artists Andres T. Schwartz, Withrop Turney, and John Edwin Jackson, painted nine murals depicting “contemporary” New York, with a sweeping view of New York’s harbor and skyline. One visitor described the scene: Attilio Pusterla’s central panel gives us a gracious, flowing harborscape from the Statue of Liberty to the AIG Building. In contrast, Andrew Thomas Schwartz provides more muted presentations of Rockefeller Center, the Brooklyn Bridge, the Woolworth Building, and other lovely landmarks (beautifulny). These murals were restored in 1979.
National Archives and Records Administration, Negative 6759-C
"New York County Courthouse Interior", date accessed: 9/5/2015
Top 10 Greatest Murals in NYC - beautifulny
History and Architecture of New York County Supreme Courthouse - www.nycourts.gov
Inside the New York County Supreme Courthouse - http://untappedcities.com
The New York Times: "CWA PROJECT GIVES 2,500 ARTISTS WORK," February 23, 1934 (pg. 21)
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