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History: Justice

The panel portraying Justice has the theme of the parable of the laborers in the Vineyard, from Saint Matthew's Gospel, chapter XX, 1-16. While the parable consists of two chief points, namely the calling of the laborers and their payment, the story emphasized in the, rotunda portrayal is that of the payment of the laborers. A beautiful vineyard in the Holy Land is the scene and the time is spring. There was much work to be done and the laborers were few, so that later in the day, others had to be found who would assist with the vines. The paying agreement which the householder made with the latter was, "I will give you what shall be just."

Evening came, and the picture shows the moment when those last hired had received their pay and passing out of the vineyard, turned to look back at those who had been hired first, arguing with the master: "These last have worked but one hour, and thou hast made them equal to us, that have borne the burden of the day and the heats."

And the answer of the steward "I do thee no wrong-Did I not agree with thee for a penny? Take what is thine and go thy way." The parable of Justice, the chief thought represented in the picture in allegorical significance is deeply impressed on the beholder-death, the evening of life, the distribution of graces, the glory of heaven, the merits of individuals: the truths of many religious doctrines thus conveyed. The elemental beauty of the earth and its enveloping atmosphere is admirably expressed. The picture is palpitating with life in subtle earth tones of browns, purple, yellows and deep greens. There is a very poetical character besides in this transcript of a vineyard scene, composed in tone, and with an artistically important feeling of the value of space and air and landscape as well as of expressive figure composition; in a word, this mural synthesizes tone, form and light, with energy, strength and splendid style.

 


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