Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Justice Is Blind--And Beautiful--At Yale Library

By Nancy Mattoon

Code Penal: commentaires imagés de Joseph Hémard.
Paris : Editions Littéraires de France, [192u?]
(All Images Courtesy of Lillian Goldman Law Library.)

The personification of Lady Justice as a goddess balancing the scales of truth and fairness dates back at least to Ancient Egypt and the Goddess Maat, as shown in the Egyptian Book of the Dead. Maat later morphed into the better known Isis, and was then co-opted by the Romans, who renamed her Justitia. But whatever name she is given, Lady Justice with her scales, and later her blindfold and sword, remains a beautiful and compelling figure in paintings, sculptures, and, of course, book illustrations. Yale Law School's Lillian Goldman Law Library specializes in collecting rare, illustrated law books, and has recently expanded an already fascinating online collection of images of Justitia in all her glory from it's massive collection of rare volumes.

Corvinus, Johannes Arnoldi.
Iurisprudentia Romana.
Amsterdam, 1644.

According to a February blog entry by rare book librarian Mike Widener, "This past month I've added 44 additional images containing depictions of Justitia (Lady Justice), to our Flickr gallery Justitia: Iconography of Justice...For the past several months I've been scouring our collection for such images, and also buying books containing images of Justitia, as part of our collecting focus on illustrated law books."

Calcografia dal vol. I di:
Dei delitti e delle pene edizione novissima...
Bassano: a spese Remondini di Venezia, 1797.

Widener also notes that the new images of Lady Justice are linked to the recent publication of a book by Yale Law professors Judith Resnik and Dennis E. Curtis, Representing Justice: Invention, Controversy, and Rights in City-states and Democratic Courtrooms (Yale University Press, 2011). Professors Resnik and Curtis are also conducting a seminar for Yale Law School in the Spring 2011 semester based on their book.

Diploma der allergnädigsten Privilegien so Ihro Königliche
Majestät zu Hungarn und Böheim,
Ertz-Hertzogin zu Oesterreich, &c. &c.
Maria Theresia, denen Botzner-Märckten ertheilet.
Botzen: Daselbst zu finden, 1744.

Goddess Justitia has also been the muse for the latest exhibition at the Lillian Goldman Law Library, Life and Law in Early Modern England. Co-sponsored by the Library and Yale's Elizabethan Club, the exhibition reflects the ways in which, "English law not only underwent deep changes in the late sixteenth and early seventeenth centuries, but also played a leading role in politics and culture." Life and Law in Early Modern England is part of the year-long Centenary celebration of Yale's Elizabethan Club, founded in 1911 as a meeting place for conversation and discussion of literature and the arts. The exhibit was curated by Justin Zaremby, a 2010 graduate of the Yale Law School, with assistance from Mike Widener.

Statutvm terrae Sancti Archangeli
duplici indice illustratum.

Ravennae: typis Io. Baptiste Patij, 1669.

In his introduction to the exhibit, Zaremby writes, "The occasion of the Club's Centenary provides the opportunity to bring together two impressive collections of early modern texts at Yale to illustrate a rich moment in English legal history." The books and manuscripts on display date from 1570 to the 1670s. They include guides to legal practice, textbooks, a play performed at an Inn of Court, and works dealing with church-state relations, legal philosophy, court jurisdiction, and the claim of Mary Queen of Scots to the English throne. Among the authors included are several of the era's leading figures, such as Francis Bacon, Francis Beaumont, Lord Burghley, Edward Coke, and John Selden.

Maximae juris celebriores,
deductae ex jure canonico, civili, glossa.
Tyrnaviae: Typis Academicis, S. Jesu, 1742.

Life and Law in Early Modern England is on display February-May 2011 in the Rare Book Exhibition Gallery of the Lillian Goldman Law Library. It will also be made available online through posts several times each week on Mike Widener's fascinating Rare Books Blog. One such post revealed that an Italian law library has also devoted a website to images of Lady Justice. The Università di Modena e Reggio Emilia's Immagini della Giustizia includes images of Justitia from the frontispieces, headpieces, initials, and architectural borders of printed books, as well as a discussion of the iconography of her scales, sword, and blindfold. With the obvious joy of a man more than a little in love with Lady Justice, Yale librarian Mike Widener notes: "Our rare book collection owns very few of the examples in the Modena website, so I have new titles to pursue!"


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