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John S. Melcher residence

New York, NY

Living room ceiling

Pan, 1921

Commissioned by: Lawrence PeckMedium: oil on canvasExecuted by: Hildreth MeièreNonextant

Study in gouache on paperboard for Melcher ceiling

Study in gouache on paperboard for Melcher ceiling

Hildreth Meière’s teacher Ernest Peixotto introduced her to architect Lawrence Peck. He was looking for young artists to paint a living room ceiling and dining room decorations in a Renaissance style for the John S. Melcher residence at 25 East 79th Street in Manhattan.1 Meière considered this small job from a well-known architect a calculated step in her career as a muralist.2

Although she began work on the project in collaboration with another student, Mrs. Melcher and Peck soon asked Meière to handle it by herself:

It seems that he [Peck] had carefully considered the start we had made and had come to the conclusion that couldn’t make our work look enough alike to hang together and that he wanted me to do the whole room myself.3

Meière painted the fifty-five-foot ceiling with a mural of Pan playing his pipes for the animals of the forest. All that remains of the ceiling decoration is a black-and-white photograph of Meière’s study in gouache on paperboard.

1

For a full discussion, see Catherine Coleman Brawer and Kathleen Murphy Skolnik, The Art Deco Murals of Hildreth Meière (New York: Andrea Monfried Editions, 2014): 36-39.

2

Hildreth Meière, letter to her mother, May 7, 1920, Hildreth Meière Papers, Archives of American Art, Smithsonian Institution, Washington, DC.

3

Meière, letter to her mother, January 23, 1921, HM Papers.