Freda Reiter – Sirica reads verdict, 1974 – Pastel Drawing

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The back of this drawing carries Reiter’s label “Sirica reads verdict, 1974,” but it’s difficult to establish which trial it depicts. Over the course of the year, Sirica presided over many Watergate-related trials and hearings, often involving minor players ready to plead guilty.

Pastel Drawing, 17″ x 14″

Signature (detail)

Watergate exhibition page

Freda L. Reiter


Since cameras were banned from courtrooms, news outlets depended on professional sketch artists like Freda Reiter for visuals. When Reiter was assigned the Watergate burglary trial, in 1973, she had no idea that she would be spending the better part of two years in Washington.

Watergate Courtroom Sketches by Freda L. Reiter, 1973–75

To provide sufficient visuals for the substantial airtime allotted to the story each night, Reiter made multiple sketches a day: close-up portraits, as well as wide-angle views of the courtroom incorporating as many as 28 figures.