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Cathedral Basilica of Saint Louis

St. Louis, MO

South wall surrounding rose window

Meandering Grapevine, completed posthumously 1962

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

South end of cathedral basilica

South end of cathedral basilica

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

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. With regard to a design for to the south wall surrounding the rose window, she wrote to Arno Heuduck at Ravenna Mosaics:

Off hand, and before I make sketches, it seems to me that some series of borders, and an all-over diaper pattern for the soffit and outer area of the south wall will be sufficient. If we make the area too interesting as to subject matter, it will be inevitably over-lit, and the competition with the window accentuated.2
Faherty, William Barnaby, The Great Saint Louis Cathedral, 1988.

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

As she had in her decoration of the south dome, Meière devised a non-figurative variation of the Art Deco-style, gold Meandering Grapevine from the north wall that further related her designs at either end of the nave to each other. The tendrils of the Meandering Grapevine that she designed for the south wall surrounding the rose window are smaller and tighter than in Meière’s earlier version, but equally stylized:

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

Meière also told Heuduck that she knew that the color tone she wanted for her design on the south wall was green, in order to complement the window’s “outer purple-blue” that she thought was “terrific.”

Meière never saw her decoration of the south wall completed, as the mosaics had not been installed before her death in May 1961.3 Fortunately she had finished her sketches, so that her assistant Nina Blake was able to paint the full-scale cartoons from which the mosaicists fabricated Meière’s designs.4 The south wall was completed in 1962.5

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

Meière, letter to Arno Heuduck, February 14, 1961, Saint Louis University Archives. DOC REC 50 (Ravenna Mosaic Company Records).

3

Rt. Rev. Thomas F. Durkin, letter to Mrs. Hastings [Nina Wheeler] Blake (Meière’s assistant), June 2, 1961, Archives of the Cathedral Basilica of Saint Louis, courtesy of Nicole A. Heerlein, Communications Specialist, Cathedral Basilica of Saint Louis.

4

Arno Heuduck, letter to Nina Blake, October 6, 1961, SLU Archives.

5

“Contract between the Ravenna Mosaic Company and the St. Louis Cathedral,” July 10, 1962, showing a zero balance at completion of “mosaics on south wall-upper area window & border,” SLU Archives.

Additional Resources

Commission Location

Emblem

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

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