A historic portrait of the four female U.S. Supreme Court Justices - retired Justice Sandra Day O'Connor and Justices Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Sonia Sotomayor and Elena Kagan - was displayed this morning for the first time at the National Portrait Gallery.
"The scale of this painting speaks to the grand accomplishments made by these four women and the example they set for future generations," said Kim Sajet, director of the museum at a conference. The gallery is a part of the Smithsonian Institution. "We want to use the painting as a launching pad for young women."
The portrait by Nelson Shanks, titled "The Four Justices," was commissioned by philanthropists Ian and Annette Cumming and took two years from conception to finish, with about seven and a half weeks to paint it.
O'Connor, the first woman to serve on the nation's highest court, is seated on a blue sofa next to Ginsburg, who followed her on the court and standing behind them are the two newest members of the court, Sotomayor and Kagan. The justices sat for four hours in the Rehnquist dining room of the Supreme Court while Shanks took "millions" of photos. "They were very, very patient," he said and joked and talked among themselves.
The four justices - the real ones - will see their portrait for the first time this evening at a reception at the gallery.