Portrait of Chief Justice Catherine D. Kimball

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Left to right: LSU Paul M. Hebert Law Center Chancellor and SCLHS board member Jack M. Weiss; Louisiana Supreme Court Chief Justice Catherine D. Kimball; Artist Michael Deas; and SCLHS Board President Donna D. Fraiche.

On March 12, 2012, the official portrait of Chief Justice Catherine D. Kimball was presented to the Louisiana Supreme Court by The Supreme Court of Louisiana Historical Society Board President Donna D. Fraiche on behalf of the Supreme Court of Louisiana Historical Society. The ceremony, held in the courtroom, was attended by justices of the Louisiana Supreme Court, members of The Supreme Court of Louisiana Historical Society and members of the Kimball family.

Ms. Fraiche gave a brief history of the Society’s involvement in restoring many of the portraits in the Supreme Court’s collection, including portraits of Louisiana’s chief justices, which are on display in the Supreme Court Museum and are enjoyed by the many visitors to the building.

The Historical Society was particularly honored to present the portrait in 2012, which marks Chief Justice Kimball’s 20th year on the Court. In 1992, she was the first woman elected to the Supreme Court, and for 18 years prior she was a member of the 19th Judicial District Court, which encompasses Iberville, West Baton Rouge, and Pointe Coupee parishes. Overall, Chief Justice Kimball has served as a member of the Louisiana judiciary for 30 years.

French Quarter artist Michael Deas was commissioned by the Historical Society to complete the portrait.

Deas’s paintings of Theodore Roosevelt, Mark Twain, Franklin Roosevelt, and Thomas Jefferson have appeared on four covers of Time magazine. He has also painted over 20 postage stamps, including likenesses of Lewis and Clark, Ronald Reagan, Marilyn Monroe, and James Dean. Most people have seen the Columbia Pictures logo of “Torch Lady,” but may not know that this familiar icon is Deas’s work. Deas said he was delighted to work with Chief Justice Kimball. He described her in this way: “As a sitter, she was both obliging and charismatic, good-natured and possessing an irresistible smile – a portrait painter’s dream come true.” He became interested in painting her portrait after a visit to the Court and the Museum afforded him a chance to see the Court’s entire collection of portraits of distinguished judges and members of Louisiana’s bar.

After Ms. Fraiche completed her remarks, she was joined by LSU Paul M. Hebert Law Center Chancellor Jack M. Weiss to unveil the portrait. Chancellor Weiss serves on the Historical Society Board and was an active member on the committee to commission the portrait.

On April 18, 2012, Chief Justice Kimball announced she will be retiring in January 2013. She is admired and is recognized by the legal community for her many outstanding contributions throughout her career and as Chief Justice. For 30 years she has been a judge who works hard daily to make sure the justice system works for all of the citizens of Louisiana. The vibrant portrait by Michael Deas will represent a lasting tribute to a remarkable judge.