Supreme Court of the United States
Out of concern for the health and safety of the public and Supreme Court employees, the Supreme Court Building will be closed to the public until further notice. The Building will remain open for official business. Please see all COVID-19 announcements here.

Today at the Court - Tuesday, Sep 28, 2021


Building closed to the public

  • Out of concern for the health and safety of the public and Supreme Court employees, the Supreme Court Building will be closed to the public until further notice. The Building will remain open for official business. Please see all COVID-19 announcements here.
  • All public lectures and visitor programs are temporarily suspended.
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Did You Know...

Decoding a Relief Portrait


Sculptor Augustus Saint-Gaudens (1848-1907) employed symbols, inscriptions, and other personalized details, to reveal much about a subject’s character and accomplishments. When this relief portrait of Justice Horace Gray was modeled from life in 1901, the Justice was 74 years old and quite ill. Regardless, the portrait still captures his strength and sternness. Several symbols associated with Justice Gray’s occupation are depicted, including a stylized Seal of the Supreme Court of the United States in the upper left corner, a beautifully detailed judicial robe, a book of law, and a bench chair. In addition, a Latin inscription reads, “MAJOR HÆREDITAS VENIT A JURE ET LEGIBUS” meaning, “a richer heritage comes from law and precepts.” Justice Gray was an early adoptee of the case-study method and relied on legal precedents (stare decisis, “let the decision stand”) in his approach to the law.

 

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Bas-relief portrait of Associate Justice Horace Gray by Augustus Saint-Gaudens, 1901.
Bas-relief portrait of Associate Justice Horace Gray by Augustus Saint-Gaudens, 1901.
Collection of the Supreme Court of the United States
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Detail of stylized Seal of the Supreme Court of the United States.
Detail of stylized Seal of the Supreme Court of the United States.
Collection of the Supreme Court of the United States
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The bas-relief was bequeathed to the Supreme Court in 1938 by Justice Gray’s widow, Jane Gray. As seen in this photograph, it hung in the Grays’ Boston home until it was gifted to the Court.
The bas-relief was bequeathed to the Supreme Court in 1938 by Justice Gray’s widow, Jane Gray. As seen in this photograph, it hung in the Grays’ Boston home until it was gifted to the Court.
Collection of the Supreme Court of the United States
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