New portrait of female Supreme Court justices unveiled

This painting of the four female Supreme Court justices will be on display at the National Portrait Gallery for three years. (Nelson Shanks/National Portrait Gallery)

“The Four Justices”: This painting will be on display at the National Portrait Gallery for three years. (Nelson Shanks/Ian and Annette Cumming Collection)

What’s it like when the first four female Supreme Court Justices get together to sit for one oil portrait? “Semi-controlled chaos,” artist Nelson Shanks told us. The painting, unveiled Monday at the National Portrait Gallery, took not quite eight weeks to complete, and involved a very “upbeat” four-hour portrait session with the justices all talking and joking. “They’re tremendously good friends,” said museum director Kim Sajet. “They joke around a lot, and they respect each other a lot.” Sandra Day O’Connor, Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Sonia Sotomayor and Elena Kagan are scheduled to attend a private gathering Monday night at the gallery to celebrate the painting, which was first commissioned by art collectors Ian and Annette Cumming about two years ago. And no, it’s not a coincidence that O’Connor and Ginsburg are the ones seated on the couch, in a room based on the Supreme Court Building — Sotomayor and Kagan are the relative newbies, so they had to stand.

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