Art history professor secures piece of Centre history at auction

Posted by Centre News in Art History, News, Studio Art 08 Aug 2014

vinson_bust
Fred Vinson BustWhile most students know beloved Centre College alumnus Frederick Vinson’s face from a portrait that members of the Phi Delta Theta fraternity have brought to every home football game as well as to both national vice presidential debates the College has hosted, the Centre community will now be able to enjoy another work of art depicting the Supreme Court Chief Justice.

Assistant Professor of Art History Jay Bloom recently procured a bronze bust of Vinson from the Potomack Company, an auction house based in Alexandria, Va. The bust of Vinson is a bronze version of a slightly larger bust that is showcased in the U.S. Supreme Court building. Standing at roughly 26 inches, Centre’s bust is now on display in the Isaac Shelby Room located in Old Centre, one of 15 College buildings listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

Vinson, or “Dead Fred” as he is commonly known, is one of Centre’s most prestigious and successful alumni. While at Centre, Vinson graduated at the top of his class (1909) and received a law degree from the College in 1911. He was a member of the Phi Delta Theta fraternity and a three-sport athlete. Vinson Hall, a residence building on campus, is named after him, and his picture on Centre’s baseball team can be found in Sutcliffe Hall.

Vinson, a native of Louisa, Ky., went on to serve in all three branches of the federal government, most notably serving as the 13th Chief Justice of the United States. Vinson presided over the Supreme Court at a time when civil rights were becoming a hot topic, hearing many cases that would ultimately lay the groundwork for the landmark Brown v. Board of Education decision.

by John Ross Wyatt ’15