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Seminary of the Immaculate Conception

Huntington, NY

Altarpiece in bishops' chapel in burial crypt

Christ Pantocrator, 1943

Commissioned by: Robert J. ReileyMedium: glass mosaicExecuted by: De Paoli

Altarpiece in crypt chapel

Altarpiece in crypt chapel

During World War II, Meière designed an altarpiece depicting Christ Pantocrator in glass mosaic for the bishops’ chapel in the burial crypt at the Seminary of the Immaculate Conception in Huntington, New York. Robert J. Reiley was the commissioning architect.

Meière’s signed a contract on April 16, 1943 with the Diocese of Brooklyn, according to which, Meière was responsible for “designing, fabricating, and installing” a mosaic altarpiece that was to be ten feet high and six feet, four inches wide. One condition of the contract was that neither the Seminary nor Meière would “use or permit the use of the sketch or cartoon in the reproduction of any other mosaic.”1

The firm Meière was asked to work with was not the Ravenna Mosaic Company, which had installed her glass mosaic designs in the past, but de Paoli, a New York mosaic and terrazzo firm with which she had worked on the marble mosaic floors of the Nebraska State Capitol in the 1920s.

Detail of Christ Pantocrator in glass mosaic

Detail of Christ Pantocrator in glass mosaic

According to Monsignor Patrick J. Barry, the bishop and the “clergy old and young” were pleased with Meière’s mosaic, “which has been admired without reservation.”2 The seminary described it as

[an] altar portraying the artistic and familiar Byzantine representation of Christ, the Pantocrator, Supreme Judge and Lawgiver, seated in power and majesty on a throne, his right hand raised aloft and his left hand supporting a book open to the words: ‘I am the resurrection and the life.’ At his feet lay the symbols of earthly dissolution and disarray, the shattered cathedral, fallen mitre, broken crozier and the skeletal bones.3

The predominant soft gray color of the altarpiece is echoed in mosaics by other artists that decorate the walls of the bishops’ chapel, creating such a harmonious whole that the entire chapel has mistakenly been attributed to Meière.

1

Agreement between Diocese of Brooklyn and Hildreth Meière,” April 16, 1943. Hildreth Meière Papers, Archives of American Art, Smithsonian Institution, Washington, DC.

2

Monsignor Patrick J. Barry, letter to Robert J. Reiley, September 22, 1943, HM Papers.

3

Seminary of the Immaculate Conception, Brochure, 13. HM Papers.

Commission Location

Emblem

Seminary of the Immaculate Conception
440 W Neck Rd
Huntington, NY 11743

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