“In Custodia Legis,” the blog of the Law Librarians of Congress, has just published the second installment of its “Glimpse of Law Series,” written by Donna Sokol, special assistant to the Law Librarian of Congress. The series tours the Library of Congress Jefferson Building, exploring themes of law in its art and architecture. The first post, on May 30, 2012, discussed “The East Corridor Mosaic Vaults.” Installment 2, “The East Corridor Paintings,” discusses a group of five lunettes surrounding the small vestibule leading to the Main Reading Room. Painted by Elihu Vedder in 1896-97, the paintings illustrate the ideal of the republic and the importance of the rule of law. Sokol explains:
“In the panel for Government [above], the figure on the left holds the sword of justice and protection – two functions of the law. The rein wrapped around the sword signifies the control that Government applies to the law. The figure on the right holds a bridle symbolizing restraint and order – two other functions of the law. The words of President Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address are etched onto the plaque that the central figure holds.”
These brief tours highlight the many splendors of the Library of Congress, and may offer some surprises even for those who have visited in person.