Monday, June 15, 2015

Magna Carta and the Wisconsin Supreme Court

Mural in the Wisconsin Supreme Court
On the 800th anniversary of the signing of Magna Carta the Wisconsin State Journal notes a connection in the Wisconsin Supreme Court:
Monday marks the 800th anniversary of the signing of the Magna Carta, the document that curbed the power of King John of England and established the foundation of America’s modern judicial system. It’s also 100 years after a mural depicting its signing was installed in the Capitol hearing room. ....

The painting looms large on the left of the Wisconsin Supreme Court Hearing Room at roughly 9 feet tall by 18 feet, 6 inches wide. It’s one of the room’s four murals, which depict sources of Wisconsin Law: “The Signing of the Magna Carta” depicts English common law, a scene at a trial before Caesar Augustus Octavius depicts Roman law, “The Signing of the Constitution” represents federal law and “The Trial of Chief Oshkosh Before Judge Doty” represents territorial law. ....

Finding an artist to paint them was...trying. The state first selected Francis Millett, but by the time Millett and [Justice] Winslow had finished debating the content of the murals, Millett had died on the Titanic.

Another artist proved too expensive before the state settled on Albert Herter, who charged $28,000. ....

In the front of the painting, a young boy holds a large dog. Neither are historical figures; they’re Herter’s son and family dog.

The artist’s son, Christian Herter, coincidentally went on to become the governor of Massachusetts and Secretary of State under President Dwight D. Eisenhower. ....

Albert Herter completed the murals on the East Coast, rolled them up and installed them in Madison in less than a month. .... [more]

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