The Trial

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Titorelli’s Painting of the Judge Symbol Analysis

Titorelli’s Painting of the Judge Symbol Icon
When Josef visits Titorelli, the painter shows him a portrait of a judge that was commissioned by the courts. On the judge’s throne, Titorelli has drawn a winged icon that is meant to depict the figure of justice combined with the figure of victory. The resulting figure, however, shows a justice that is in motion and thus unable to keep its scales balanced. When Josef asks why the drawing is the way it is, Titorelli explained he simply followed instructions and drew without having seen the images he’s meant to depict. This drawing symbolizes the way that the bureaucracy has distorted the concept of justice, creating something mercurial and unreliable—much like the frustrating Law that oppresses Josef. Furthermore, the fact that Titorelli draws these figures from imagination, without having an understanding of what they truly look like, illustrates that human conceptualizations of justice are likely to misrepresent the ideal.

Titorelli’s Painting of the Judge Quotes in The Trial

The The Trial quotes below all refer to the symbol of Titorelli’s Painting of the Judge. For each quote, you can also see the other characters and themes related to it (each theme is indicated by its own dot and icon, like this one:
Justice vs. The Law Theme Icon
). Note: all page and citation info for the quotes below refers to the Oxford University Press edition of The Trial published in 2009.
Chapter 7 Quotes

‘Yes,’ said the painter, ‘it was in the commission that I had to paint her like that, it’s actually Justice and the Goddess of Victory at the same time.’ ‘That’s not a good combination,’ said K. with a smile, ‘Justice has to be in repose, otherwise the scales will wobble and a just verdict will not be possible.’ ‘I’m following my client’s wishes,’ the painter said. ‘Yes, of course,’ said K., who had not intended to offend anyone with his remark. ‘You’ll have painted the figure as it is on the chair.’ ‘No,’ said the painter, ‘I’ve never seen either the figure or the chair, but I was told what I was to paint.’

Related Characters: Josef K. (speaker), Titorelli (speaker)
Related Symbols: Titorelli’s Painting of the Judge
Page Number: 104
Explanation and Analysis:

One of Josef's clients has admitted that a friend of his named Titorelli has told him that Josef is on trial; Josef decides to visit Titorelli, a painter who paints portraits of court officials. Titorelli is confused about why Josef has come, though he still shows Josef his paintings, including a portrait of the judge, which features a depiction of the figures of Justice and Victory mixed into one. In this passage, Josef points out that the combination makes it looks as if Justice's scales are tipped, which would symbolize unfair judgment; Titorelli, indifferent, responds that he only paints what he is told to paint. 

The portrait of the Judge is a perfect representation of the corrupt and skewed legal system. Titorelli's attempt to fuse the symbols for Justice and Victory show how far the law has strayed from the aim of delivering fair, unbiased judgment to citizens; after all, if the aim of the law is victory, this prohibits the courts from acting impartially. Furthermore, Titorelli's reason for painting the portrait in this way proves how the law came to be so unjust in the first place. When questioned by Josef, Titorelli responds that he simply follows orders, showing that when people mindlessly obey authority without using their own rational judgment, the outcome will be a system that is nonsensical and absurd. 

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Titorelli’s Painting of the Judge Symbol Timeline in The Trial

The timeline below shows where the symbol Titorelli’s Painting of the Judge appears in The Trial. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Chapter 7
Justice vs. The Law Theme Icon
The Absurd Theme Icon
...to read it himself. The painter shows Josef some of his work, including a court-commissioned portrait of a judge . On the judge’s chair is a combined rendering of Justice and Victory, which shows... (full context)