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Prudential Plaza

Newark, NJ

Lobby wall above elevator banks, center panel

Pillars of Hercules, center panel, 1960

Commissioned by: Voorhees, Walker, Smith, Smith & HainesMedium: marble mosaicExecuted by: FoscatoRelocated to: Newark Museum, Newark, NJ

The Pillars of Hercules installed in atrium of the Newark Museum

The Pillars of Hercules installed in atrium of the Newark Museum

Hildreth Meière’s final corporate commission was three large panels in marble mosaic to decorate the walls above the elevator banks at Prudential Plaza in Newark, New Jersey. As her theme for the mural, Meière depicted the Pillars of Hercules in recognition of the Prudential Insurance Company’s logo, the Rock of Gibraltar. Meière created a narrative Art Deco design influenced by ancient Greek vase painting. It represents Hercules sailing through the Strait of Gibraltar, with The Pillars of Hercules on either side.1

Prudential Plaza lobby with three-panel, marble mosaic of the Pillars of Hercules above the elevator banks

Prudential Plaza lobby with three-panel, marble mosaic of the Pillars of Hercules above the elevator banks

Meière’s three large marble mosaic panels remained in place at Prudential Plaza until the lobby was renovated in 1998-99. At that time the center panel, 12 x 15 feet, and the two side panels, each 12 x 18 feet, were removed and placed in storage. Extensive damage to the Pillars of Hercules occurred during this process. In 2013, Antonio Davide Schiavo, who had been head mosaicist at the Foscato factory in Long Island City in 1960 and responsible for the original fabrication of the panels, came out of retirement to work with master mosaicist Steven Miotto on the restoration.2

Steven Miotto (left) and Antonio Davide Schiavo (right) restoring the Pillars of Hercules

Steven Miotto (left) and Antonio Davide Schiavo (right) restoring the Pillars of Hercules

Once the restoration was complete, Prudential donated the center panel to the Newark Museum, where Schiavo and Miotto installed it in the atrium.

Restored center panel of the Pillars of Hercules

Restored center panel of the Pillars of Hercules

Schiavo (left)  and Miotto (right) installing the center panel in the atrium of the Newark Museum

Schiavo (left) and Miotto (right) installing the center panel in the atrium of the Newark Museum

Schiavo (left) and Miotto (right)

Schiavo (left) and Miotto (right)

Prudential Insurance Company also gave the two restored side panels to Harvard University’s Center for Hellenic Studies in Washington, D.C., where architect Richard Williams reconfigured the rear wall of the interior open air courtyard and the interior wall of the library to accommodate them.

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) :161-67, and Brawer, Walls Speak: The Narrative Art of Hildreth Meière (St. Bonaventure, New York: St. Bonaventure University, 2009): 100-03.

2

See Brawer and Skolnik, pp. 161-67.

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Newark Museum
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Newark, NJ 07102

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