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Cathedral Basilica of Saint Louis

St. Louis, MO

North dome pendentives

St. John Chrysostom, St. Cyril of Jerusalem, 1958

Commissioned by: George John MaguoloMedium: Byzantine-style glass mosaicFabricated by: Pühl & WagnerInstalled by: Ravenna Mosaics

Hildreth Meière designed nine commissions in the main sanctuary of the Cathedral Basilica of Saint Louis between 1945 and 1961.1 All of her decoration was in Byzantine-style glass mosaic, so that her designs would blend with pre-existing mosaics by other artists from the earlier part of the twentieth century.

North dome with the Twelve Apostles; St. Cyril in pendentive on the top left; St. John Chrysostom in pendentive on top right; and eastern arch soffit with Melchizedek and Abraham and Isaac on far right

North dome with the Twelve Apostles; St. Cyril in pendentive on the top left; St. John Chrysostom in pendentive on top right; and eastern arch soffit with Melchizedek and Abraham and Isaac on far right

A decade after she had designed mosaic decoration for the eastern arch soffit of the north dome at the cathedral basilica, Meière designed two of the four pendentives connecting the north dome to the arches below it with images of St. Cyril of Jerusalem on the southwest pendentive and St. John Chrysostom on the southeast. The saints represent two doctors from the Eastern Church “who have written significantly on the Eucharist.”2

Faherty, William Barnaby, The Great Saint Louis Cathedral, 1988.

Faherty, William Barnaby, The Great Saint Louis Cathedral, 1988.

 

Southwest pendentive with St.Cyril

Southwest pendentive with St.Cyril

Southeast pendentive with St. John Chrysostom

Southeast pendentive with St. John Chrysostom

The challenge for Meière was to blend her two pendentives with the other two designed by August Oetken already in place. As she wrote to the head of Pühl & Wagner in Berlin:

...it has not been easy to plan the central decorations for the older mosaics, and I have felt that if they disturbed these, they would be wrong, no matter how good in themselves. I only hope that I have succeeded in slipping into place quietly— I am sure I am right in scale, and the color should be sympathetic.3

At the same time that she designed the pendentives, Meière designed decoration for the north dome depicting the Twelve Apostles, and the north wall surrounding the rose window with Two Drinking Deer and Meandering Grapevine symbolizing the Eucharist.2 She wrote, “I feel that the placing and the subject matter of the remaining spaces gives me far more freedom than those I have just completed.”5

Following her work at the north end of the cathedral basilica, she designed the south dome, pendentives and arch soffits, and the south wall surrounding the rose window. Meière was completing her final design for the west arch soffit of the south dome at the time of her death in 1961.

1

For a full discussion, see Catherine Coleman Brawer, Walls Speak: The Narrative Art of Hildreth Meière (St. Bonaventure, New York: St. Bonaventure University, 2009): 90-99 and Brawer and Kathleen Murphy Skolnik, The Art Deco Murals of Hildreth Meière (New York: Andrea Monfried Editions, 2014): 118-31.

2

McNamee, p. 31.

3

Meière, letter to Hans Wagner, January 7, 1958. Pühl & Wagner, Heinersdorff Archive, Berlinische Galerie Museum für Moderne Kunst, Berlin, Germany.

4

McNamee, p. 31.

5

Meière, letter to Hans Wagner, January 7, 1958.

Additional Resources

Commission Location

Emblem

Cathedral Basilica of Saint Louis
4421 Lindell Boulevard
St. Louis, MO 63108

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