"His Famous Wig Composed Entirely of Split Hairs and Adorned with the Ceremonial Crimson Tape" Robinson, Boardman [1876-1952]. [Becker-Rosenthal Murder Trial]. Mr. Justice Precedent. [New York, 1914]. 21" x 15-1/2" gouache image on 26" x 19-1/2" sheet, image signed twice and inscribed by Robinson, caption in pencil below image, most likely in another hand, laid down on illustration board. Image in 30-1/2" x 24" wooden frame, glazed. Light soiling, a few minor stains and four crop-marks to margins outside of image, which could be covered with a matte, image fine. Several minor scuffs and nicks to frame. A unique item relating to a notable trial. $4,500. * This piece was created to illustrate "Leaden Footed Justice in New York State," an article that appeared in the Special Feature Section of the New York Tribune on Sunday, March 1, 1914. The caption reads: "Mr. Justice Precedent wearing his famous wig composed entirely of split hairs and adorned with the ceremonial crimson tape." The caption refers to the protracted nature of the Becker-Rosenthal Murder case, which began on October 7, 1912, restarted on May 2, 1914 and finally concluded after a series of procedural events in 1915. The case involved a group of corrupt police offices led by Charles Becker who ran a protection racket on illegal casinos. Becker hired gangsters to kill a casino owner, and rival gangster, who was threatening to expose the racket. A breathtaking example of police corruption, the investigation and trial was front-page news in New York for months. In the end Becker was sent to the electric chair at Sing Sing. (This was the first time a police officer received the death penalty). The case lived on for several years in the popular imagination; it is mentioned, for example, in The Great Gatsby (1925). Robinson, the creator of this illustration, was a distinguished artist, illustrator and cartoonist. A native of Nova Scotia, he studied art in Boston and completed his training in Paris at the Academie Colarossi and the Ecole des Beaux-Arts, both in Paris. "Mr. Justice Precedent" shows his affinity, acquired in Paris, for the work of Daumier, Forain and Steinlen. Robinson produced work for several newspapers and periodicals. He created "Mr. Justice Precedent" when he was an editorial cartoonist for the Tribune, a posit.
Book number 65985