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Christ Church Cathedral

Lexington, KY

Bennett memorial panel in Baptistry

Four Archangels: St. Michael, St. Gabriel, St. Raphael, and St. Uriel, 1924

Commissioned by: Women's GuildMedium: oil and gold leaf on wood panelExecuted by: Hildreth MeièreAdditional fabricators: Bertram Grosvenor Goodhue, lettering; Frank Humrich, gilding

Memorial panel with lettering by Bertram Grosvenor Goodhue

Memorial panel with lettering by Bertram Grosvenor Goodhue

The young Hildreth Meière received a commission as an artist in her own right while she was working with Bertram Grosvenor Goodhue on the arch soffits at the National Academy of Sciences in Washington, DC. The Women’s Guild of Christ Church Cathedral in Lexington, Kentucky wanted to install a panel in the baptistry in memory of their president. The panel was to be made of wood, three feet in length and eight feet, two inches in height.

Meière was concerned that Goodhue would resent her taking on a job on her own. A friend suggested as a solution that she ask Goodhue to do the lettering for the panel, which he agreed to do.

The Bennett Memorial Panel represented the first time that Meière contracted out a job. She figured out how to price her work in order to make a profit, and she contacted Goodhue’s gilder, Frank Humrich, to do the gilding. Meière wrote to her mother:

The thing now, as I see it, is to begin to get people together who can work for me. There really is a lot other people could do for me—and it’s good economy to save myself where I can.1

A Lexington newspaper offered the following detailed description of the completed memorial panel:

The panel is of wood, five ply, with a heart of chestnut. The entire face is covered with burnished gold leaf, and on this the design is traced and the paint laid. . . . The subdued but brilliant colors are highly characteristic of Gothic painted woodwork. . . . On the green ground of the central section is inscribed the Charge to the Apostles in gold and red Gothic lettering, together with the memorial inscription: “To the glory of God, In Loving Memory of Mary Warfield Bennett.” The four archangels, St. Michael, St. Gabriel, St. Raphael, and St. Uriel, who appear with their accoutrements on either side of the central panel, are noted for their “naturally treated heads and draperies” in contrast to the severity of the rest of the panel’s design.2
1

Hildreth Meière, letter to her mother, November 15, 1923, Archives of American Art, Smithsonian Institution, Hildreth Meière Papers, Washington, D.C.

2

“Dedicate Mary Bennett Panel,” Society section, Sunday, April 20, 1924, unidentified Lexington, Kentucky newspaper.

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Commission Location

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Christ Church Cathedral
166 Market Street
Lexington, KY 40507

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