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Cathedral Basilica of Saint Louis

St. Louis, MO

South dome

Great Seal of the Archdiocese of St. Louis;
Stars; Meandering Grapevine
, 1960

Commissioned by: George John MaguoloMedium: Byzantine-style glass mosaic; stained glassFabricated by: Pühl & WagnerInstalled by: Ravenna Mosaics

Hildreth Meière’s work in the main sanctuary at the Cathedral Basilica of Saint Louis includes nine commissions in Byzantine-style glass mosaic designed between 1945 and 1961.1

South end of cathedral basilica

South end of cathedral basilica

To unify the cathedral basilica’s enormous space, Meière repeated design motifs and colors that she had employed for the north end in her decoration of the south end of the nave. Her south dome echoes the Dome of the Twelve Apostles in her choice of ground color and in her design of the center motif.

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

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

The blue ground with gold Stars in the south dome refers to the blue ground of the Dome of the Twelve Apostles:

South dome

South dome

North dome (Twelve Apostles)

North dome (Twelve Apostles)

The design of the Great Seal of the Archdiocese of St. Louis in the center of the south dome relates directly to the center of the Dome of the Twelve Apostles with its cross surrounded by four six-winged seraphim:

Detail, center of south dome

Detail, center of south dome

Detail, center of north dome (Twelve Apostles)

Detail, center of north dome (Twelve Apostles)

Pühl & Wagner's owner assured Meière that the fabrication of the mosaic design for the south dome could begin relatively quickly once Ravenna Mosaics shipped the cartoons, which he thought would be shortly, as there was no figurative design involved.2

As she had for the Dome of the Twelve Apostles, Meière designed leaded windows for the south dome that would allow a soft light to enter. The windows, like the glass mosaic dome, were fabricated in Berlin by Pühl & Wagner and installed by their American affiliate, Ravenna Mosaics. Meière described the windows:

I have used only three values, placed at random, so that no set pattern appears, and if there is a variation in the individual glass, so much the better, but the values must be close so that the windows remain a unit.3
Detail of windows and walls with Meandering Grapevine on south dome

Detail of windows and walls with Meandering Grapevine on south dome

For the wall areas between the windows of the south dome, Meière repeated a variation of the stylized Art Deco Meandering Grapevine in gold that she had used with the Two Drinking Deer and Meandering Grapevine on the north wall surrounding the rose window. She would use yet another variation of the Meandering Grapevine in her design for the south wall surrounding the rose window.

South wall surrounding rose window with variation of Meandering Grapevine

South wall surrounding rose window with variation of Meandering Grapevine

North wall surrounding rose window with Two Drinking Deer and Meandering Grapevine

North wall surrounding rose window with Two Drinking Deer and Meandering Grapevine

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

Hans W. Wagner, letter to Hildreth Meière, March 5, 1959. Pühl & Wagner, Heinersdorff Archive, Berlinische Galerie Museum für Moderne Kunst, Berlin, Germany.

3

Hildreth Meière, letter to Paul Heuduck, May 13, 1957, Saint Louis University Archives. DOC REC 50 (Ravenna Mosaic Company Records).

Additional Resources

Commission Location

Emblem

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

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