Description

    Rare signed Supreme Court candid photograph owned by Harold H. Burton, one of the justices depicted

    Vinson Court Photograph Signed "Felix Frankfurter," "Hugo L. Black," "Fred M. Vinson," "Stanley Reed," "Wm O Douglas," "Tom C. Clark," "Robert H. Jackson," "Harold H Burton," and "Sherman Minton." Black and white image by Fabian Bachrach, 13.25" x 10.5", taken in October 1949 shortly after Truman's Attorney General Tom C. Clark was sworn as Associate Justice, signed on the mat. "October Term 1949" has been penned at the bottom center by Justice Burton. This photograph is not the usual, staid portrait of the nine members Supreme Court of the United States one expects to see. In the August 19, 1961 issue of The Saturday Evening Post, the article "The Flattering Camera - inside the Bachrach photographic-portrait studios" published this image for the first time, telling the following story: "When Tom C. Clark was appointed an associate justice, Bachrach went to Washington to photograph the new court. Fabian was behind the camera, and William V. Pennington, a man's photographer from New York, was acting as his assistant. Wanting the subjects more compactly grouped, Pennington said, 'Justice Clark, will you move to the left?' At this request Chief Justice Frederick M. Vinson threw up his hands in mock horror, rolled his eyes and intoned, 'Oh, God forbid!' The court burst into laughter, and Fabian caught their gleeful moment with high-speed flash." Ideologically, Chief Justice Vinson usually voted with conservative justices Frankfurter, Reed, Jackson, and Burton, against liberals Black, Douglas, Frank Murphy, and Wiley Rutledge. When Murphy and Rutledge died in 1949, they were replaced by conservatives Clark and Minton; that is why Pennington's request that Clark "move to the left" elicited a reaction of mock horror from the Chief Justice. Only ten prints were made of the resulting picture. Each justice received one, and the tenth hangs in Pennington's camera room in the Bachrach studio for men in New York City. It is not known if any of the other nine prints were signed. On the verso, Burton has penned: "1950/Supreme Court of the United States/(snapped between formal pictures of the Court)/(The plate, I understand, has been destroyed but/this 'candid shot' has been distributed by/the photographer to members of the Court)." Justice Burton has then listed the Court members depicted. A portion of the Post article has been stapled on verso, beneath Burton's notes. Double-framed under glass on both sides to 17.5" x 15". Overall in apparent fine condition.

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    Auction Dates
    June, 2008
    3rd-4th Tuesday-Wednesday
    Bids + Registered Phone Bidders: 4
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