The Metropolitan Museum of Art announced that a portrait of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg by Irving Penn (American, 1917–2009) is now on view in Gallery 690, on the second floor. The work is of special significance as Penn made this portrait on August 9, 1993, in his New York studio the day before Ginsburg left the city for Washington, D.C., where she would take the oath of office to be the second woman justice on the United States Supreme Court. The photograph will be on view through October 6, 2020.
Irving Penn had few equals as an observer of human expression, as his penetrating portraits reveal. He had an acute graphic intelligence and a sculptor’s sensitivity to volumes in light. In this image, Justice Ginsburg appears wearing a traditional black robe, leaning into the camera, emphasizing her reputation as a force of nature (at just over five feet tall). The photograph was featured in the October 1993 issue of Vogue magazine in an article titled “Justice for Women.”
At The Met, the portrait appeared in the 2017 Irving Penn: Centennial exhibition, which marked a magnificent promised gift from The Irving Penn Foundation to The Met in honor of the artist’s centenary. The 187 photographs represent every period and all facets of the artist’s long career with the camera.