The keen-eyed Tom Owen has reported that the bronze scales of justice once held in front of Metro Hall are missing and Mayor Fischer is asking citizens to help restore the piece of Louisville history. Theft for scrap metal is feared and anyone with information is encouraged to call 311 with tips. Don’t ask the justice where they, she’s blindfolded. And Thomas Jefferson is looking the other way.
“Our fear is that someone has sold the scales for scrap,” Fischer said. “I’m asking local antique stores and scrap metal shops to check their inventory for the artwork. Perhaps an unknowing citizen has purchased the scales from a dealer or another person, not knowing their historic value to the city.”
It looks like the case could easily run cold. No one is sure exactly when the scales went missing. The city said a photo from 2008 shows the scales weighing fair (left) while another photo from last year (?!) shows them missing.
More information from the city on the statue and its sculptor:
The artwork is a full-length statue of Jefferson holding the Declaration of Independence and standing on a replica of the Liberty Bell. Four allegorical winged female figures surround the base of the bell—Liberty, Equality, Justice and Brotherhood of Man and Religious Freedom.
The statue was dedicated November 9, 1901 and was presented to the Board of Park Commissioners by Isaac and Bernard Bernheim in 1899.
The artist, Moses Jacob Ezekiel, was born in Richmond, Va. and was a cadet at the Virginia Military Institute during the Civil War. He fought with the VMI Cadet Battalion on the Confederate side, for the sake of Virginia. He was VMI’s first Jewish cadet. He graduated after the war in 1866.
At 29 he won the prestigious art award, the Michel-Beer Prix de Rome—the first non-German to do so. The prize allowed him to study in Rome where he lived for the rest of his life. He was knighted by King Victor Emmanuel of Italy and won nearly every significant award in Italy for artists. He was also recognized by U.S. Presidents Grant, Theodore Roosevelt, Taft and Wilson.
Over his long career he completed some 200 works. The New York Times dispatch from Rome upon his death in March 1921 stated: “The death of Moses Ezekiel, the distinguished and greatly beloved American sculptor, who lived in Rome for more than forty years, caused universal regret here.”