Louis Brandeis statue enlivens campus

Photo/Robert D. Farber University Archives & Special Collections Department, Brandeis University

Whether it’s covered in white snow or bathed in glowing sunlight, the iconic statue of Justice Louis Brandeis atop the outcropping called Boston Rock seems almost alive.

The nine-foot bronze figure, created in 1956 by noted sculptor Robert Berks to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the Supreme Court justice’s birth, appears to capture the university’s namesake in mid-stride.

In fact, Berks’ wife, Dorothy, who was Brandeis’ personal assistant for 39 years, donned the justice’s personal robes against a beating wind on New York’s Staten Island Ferry to help the artist envision a sense of motion in his sculpture.

“He leans on his left leg, peacefully parrying the forces of opposition,” said Berks in a 1991 Boston Globe article about the sculpture. “Yet there is no aggression in his face or hands.”

The sculpture has given generations of students and countless campus visitors reason to pause by the outcropping and consider the outsized figure striding headlong into the wind, judicial robes sailing aloft behind him.

“I love the ruggedness of the statue, it’s like a work in progress,” said Eva Ahmad ’16. “To me, it symbolizes the changing definition of what it means to be a Brandeis student. Sometimes it means turning against the winds, sort of how, with the statue, garments drape over Louis against a beating wind.

The statue is an artistic embodiment of the university’s founding commitment to the pillars its namesake stood for: social justice, law and reason.

“The legacy of Louis Brandeis highlights the importance of activists who come from humble roots and are keen on lending a hand to those in need and giving back to the community,” said Ahmad.

That legacy is being celebrated this semester — the centennial of Justice Brandeis’ appointment to the Supreme Court — in a series of events and discussions called “LDB 100: Then and Now.” 

Categories: General, Student Life

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