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Robert Ingersoll Aitken
West pediment of the Supreme Court in Washington, D.C., by Robert Aitken.
Born May 8, 1878(1878-05-08)
San Francisco
Died January 3, 1949 (aged 70)
Nationality American
Field Sculpture
Sculptural details at the top of the 217 ft. column of the Liberty Memorial in Kansas City, Missouri by Robert Aitken.

Robert Ingersoll Aitken (May 8, 1878 – January 3, 1949) was an American sculptor.

Born in San Francisco, California, Aitken studied there at the Mark Hopkins Institute of Art with Douglas Tilden. From 1901 until 1904 he was an instructor at the Institute. In 1904 he moved to Paris where he continued his studies. He returned to New York City after his sojourn in Paris and was employed as an instructor at the Art Students League.

His works include the Science fountain and Great Rivers statues at the Missouri State Capitol, the "Iron Mike" statue at Parris Island, South Carolina, several military sculptures at West Point, the Temple of Music and the Dewey Monument in San Francisco, California, and sculptural works for the Liberty Memorial in Kansas City, Missouri. Aitken also produced the "Fountain of Earth" for San Francisco's Panama Pacific Exposition.

Perhaps his most famous work is the West Pediment of the United States Supreme Court building, which bears the inscription "Equal Justice Under Law".[1] The sculpture, above the entrance to the Supreme Court Building, is of nine figures—Lady Liberty surrounded by figures representing Order, Authority, Council, and Research. These allegorical figures were in fact sculptures of real people who had a role in the creation of the building. Aitken himself is depicted in the pediment, seated to the proper left of Liberty with Chief Justice Charles Evans Hughes. Many of his works were carved by the Piccirilli Brothers, including the pieces for the National Archives Building.



  • Goode, James M. The Outdoor Sculpture of Washington, D.C., Smithsonian Institution Press, Washington, D.C., 1974
  • Gurney, George, Sculpture and the Federal Triangle, Smithsonian Institution Press, Washington D.C., 1985
  • Hunter, Marie Nau, Missouri and Mississippi: Robert Ingersoll Aitken's Sculpture in Jefferson City, Missouri, Master's Thesis, University of Missouri-Columbia, 1996
  • Opitz, Glenn B , Editor, Mantle Fielding’s Dictionary of American Painters, Sculptors & Engravers, Apollo Book, Poughkeepsie, NY, 1986
  • Proske, Beatrice Gilman, Brookgreen Gardens Sculpture, Brookgreen Gardens, South Carolina, 1968

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