St. Mark ?>

St. Mark's Episcopal Church

Mt. Kisco, NY

Altarpiece

Transfiguration; Following the Arrested Jesus; Preparing the Upper Room, 1923

Commissioned by: Bertram Grosvenor GoodhueMedium: oil and gold leaf on wood panelExecuted by: Hildreth MeièreAdditional fabricators: Frank Humrich, gilding; Irving & Casson, woodwork

Main altarpiece with the Transfiguration

Main altarpiece with the Transfiguration

While Hildreth Meière was working on her first major commission from architect Bertram Grosvenor Goodhue, the dome of the Great Hall of the National Academy of Sciences in Washington, D.C., he asked her to paint an altarpiece for his recently completed St. Mark’s Church in Mount Kisco, New York.1 Known primarily for his liturgical work, Goodhue expected Meière to be able to work on religious and secular commissions simultaneously. Meière rose to the challenge and designed both secular and liturgical imagery throughout her career.

Detail of the Transfiguration showing damage from cleaning in 1978

Detail of the Transfiguration showing damage from cleaning in 1978

As requested, Meière painted the Transfiguration in a Sienese style on the center and two lower panels of the St. Mark’s altarpiece. Moses and Elijah appear on either side of the transfigured Christ, who had been accompanied to the mountain by Peter, James, and John. On the upper left panel, Meière depicted Following the Arrested Jesus; on the upper right, Preparing the Upper Room. Unfortunately, during a cleaning in 1978, the color was removed down to the terre verte base and some areas were retouched, so that Meière’s original choice of color can be seen only in her studies for the two upper panels.

Study in gouache for Following the Arrested Jesus

Study in gouache for Following the Arrested Jesus

Study in gouache for Preparing the Upper Room

Study in gouache for Preparing the Upper Room

Before Meière’s original panels of the triptych left the studio, she had them photographed by Peter A. Juley. Although they are in black in white, these photographs give a sense of what the Transfiguration looked like before the altarpiece was cleaned. Of particular note are the light colors of the drapery and the light-colored clouds on which the figures stand. These are barely noticeable on the cleaned altarpiece, in which everything is in the monochromatic terre verte base.

Three black-and-white photographs of the Transfiguration by Peter A. Juley & Son showing original details. Archives and Special Collections, Smithsonian American Art Museum

Three black-and-white photographs of the Transfiguration by Peter A. Juley & Son showing original details. Archives and Special Collections, Smithsonian American Art Museum

Throughout her career, whenever Meière was commissioned to paint an altarpiece, she did the work herself, although the end product involved collaboration with a gilder and framer. Frank Humrich was the gilder with whom Goodhue worked, and he was also responsible for varnishing Meière’s oil painting of the scenes on the altarpiece.

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): 193-96.

Additional Resources

Commission Location

Emblem

St Mark's Episcopal Church
85 E. Main Street
Mt. Kisco, NY 10549

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