Marble Staircase and the Largest Stained Glass Window Representing Justice
The Court House’s magnificent staircase, with its double approach to the building’s second floor, rises up to a stunning stained glass window that represents Justice, placed in a position to catch the rising sun. The window was designed by Frederick Wilson and Charles F. Schweinfurth, and executed by the Gorham Glassworks of New York City. Schweinfurth has been described as one of the most active and distinguished Cleveland architects, having created some of the area’s finest homes, churches and educational structures. Frederick Wilson was born in Great Britain, and after arriving in the United States resided at Briarcliff Manor in Westchester County, New York. Besides his two works for the Court House, "Appeal," a painting, and the stained glass window representing Justice, his work includes commissions at St. Clement's Church in Philadelphia , the All Saints' Church in Briarcliff, New York, and the Third Presbyterian Church in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. Wilson spent a good part of his career associated with the Tiffany Studios.
Grounded in mythology, Justice, or Themis, was understood to the Greeks as the wife of Zeus. The Romans worshipped her as Jupiter’s consort, depicting her as a goddess of Justice who sat next to him on his throne. For the Greeks, Themis, wife of Zeus, was the mother of a group of abstractions, that is Legality, Justice, Peace, as well as the Hours and the Fates. According to Home, Themis was a mythological personification of ‘custom’ or ‘unwritten law.’
In this stained glass window Justice, with an open book in her hands, is seen without covered eyes, to denote, as one author has suggested, that justice should see not only the letter but also the spirit of the law. Her right hand is covered in mail, with the left uncovered, symbolizing the New Dispensation of justice tempered by mercy. Justice is surrounded by the tablets of the Ten Commandments; while the city in an orb above the figure, representing the one coming down from heaven to bring about perfect justice and freedom in St. John’s vision, descends through the order of the created universe. Around the other edge of the window are inscribed the names of American and English jurists who have impacted the development of the law.
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