Female Supremes Get Their Day in Art

The National Portrait Gallery unveiled a large portrait.

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Artist Nelson Shanks talks about his painting "The Four Justices” during a press preview at the Smithsonian’s National Portrait Gallery Monday, Oct. 28, 2013, in Washington, D.C. (Clockwise, top left) Supreme Court Justices Sonia Sotomayor, Elena Kagan, Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Sandra Day O’Connor.
Artist Nelson Shanks talks about his painting "The Four Justices” during a press preview at the Smithsonian’s National Portrait Gallery Monday in Washington, D.C. (Clockwise, top left) Supreme Court Justices Sonia Sotomayor, Elena Kagan, Ruth Bader Ginsburg, and Sandra Day O’Connor.

The women of the Supreme Court – all four that have served – are the stars of a new piece of artwork on loan to the National Portrait Gallery in Washington.

[SLIDESHOW: Meet the Supreme Court Justices]

On Monday, the Smithsonian museum unveiled the painting, created by portraitist Nelson Shanks in 2012. It stands at a whopping 9 feet 6 inches high and shows retired Justice Sandra Day O'Connor and current Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg sitting on a blue couch, with newer Justices Sonia Sotomayor and Elena Kagan standing behind them. While all four women are wearing their robes, each is sporting slightly different neckwear.

(Clockwise, top left) Supreme Court Justices Sonia Sotomayor, Elena Kagan, Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Sandra Day O’Connor in artist Nelson Shanks' painting "The Four Justices” at the Smithsonian’s National Portrait Gallery on Monday in Washington, D.C. (Manuel Balce Ceneta/AP)

The Legal Times reported that all four justices sat for the portrait for more than four hours last year, in a setting that artist Shanks called "semi-controlled chaos." The justices were "talking and joking" throughout. The painting's setting doesn't actually exist, with the artist instead combining the scenery from one of the court's conference rooms that overlooks a courtyard, with that of the Natalie Cornell Rehnquist Dining Room, a dining room in the Supreme Court building named after the wife of late Chief Justice William Rehnquist.

The justices have yet to see the very large painting in person, but will do so Monday night at a private reception, the Legal Times said.

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