John Munro Woolsey

Object Number: 
Oil on canvas
Canvas: 50 x 40 in. (127 x 101.6 cm)
Gallery Label: 
Judge John Munro Woolsey was responsible for a number of decisions affirming free expression, but his best-known decision was his 1933 ruling in United States v. One Book Called Ulysses. Woolsey ruled that James Joyce's novel Ulysses was not obscene and could lawfully be imported into the United States. Augustus Vincent Tack is best known to scholars for his semi-abstract paintings and murals, many of which reside at the Phillips Collection. However, Tack also painted portraits throughout his mature career, including significant military and government leaders of WWII. Judge John Munro Woolsey was painted in the year after Woolsey's decision on Ulysses. The circumstances surrounding its creation are not clear. The painting remained with Tack until his death so it seems unlikely that the portrait was a commission.
Credit Line: 
Gift of Michael Karp
Due to ongoing research, information about this object is subject to change.
Creative: Tronvig Group