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St. John's Grace Episcopal Church

Buffalo, NY

Altarpiece

St. John the Evangelist; Scenes from the Life of Jesus, 1944

Commissioned by: Oscar MurrayMedium: oil and gold leaf on wood panelExecuted by: Hildreth MeièreAdditional fabricators: Louis Ross, gilderOn longterm loan to: St. Bonaventure University, Regina A. Quick Center for the Arts, St. Bonaventure, NY

St. John the Evangelist altarpiece. Photograph by Joseph Rudinec

St. John the Evangelist altarpiece. Photograph by Joseph Rudinec

In 1944, Oscar Murray commissioned Hildreth Meière to paint an elaborate oak triptych that he had designed as the main altarpiece for St. John’s Grace Episcopal Church in Buffalo, New York. The original St. John’s Church had been designed by Bertram Grosvenor Goodhue in 1924 and completed by Goodhue’s successor firm Mayers, Murray & Phillip in 1927.

In the center pane of the triptych, Meière depicted St. John the Evangelist writing his gospel. On the side panels she depicted four Scenes from the Life of Jesus. On the upper left panel she painted Jesus as Light of the World with the Wedding at Cana below; and on the upper right, the Healing of the Blind Man above the Appearance to Mary Magdalene.

One of Meière’s early studies for the altarpiece shows how she progressed from a rough sketch to the final version:

Early study for St. John the Evangelist altarpiece with St. John in a different pose from final version

Early study for St. John the Evangelist altarpiece with St. John in a different pose from final version

The elaborate gilded ground of the altarpiece was executed by Louis Ross:

Panels for St. John the Evangelist altarpiece in Meière’s studio

Panels for St. John the Evangelist altarpiece in Meière’s studio

A contemporary newspaper described Meière’s panels as being done “in bright hues in keeping with a stained-glass window above the altar and the general cheery atmosphere of the whole auditorium.”1

The altarpiece was later removed from the main sanctuary, possibly because the subject focuses on St. John the Evangelist rather than on Christ, and is on long-term loan to the Regina A. Quick Center for the Arts at St. Bonaventure University, St. Bonaventure, New York.

1

Buffalo Evening News, November 4, 1944.

Additional Resources

Commission Location

Emblem

Regina A. Quick Center for the Arts
St. Bonaventure University
3261 West State Road
St. Bonaventure, NY 14778

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