St. Mark ?>

St. Mark's-on-the-Hill

Pikesville, MD

Altarpiece

Madonna and Child (left); Christ and His Mother (center); the Boy and His Mother (right), 1933

Commissioned by: Taylor & FisherMedium: oil and gilt on wood panelExecuted by: Hildreth Meière

Altarpiece with Madonna and Child on left; Christ and His Mother in center; the Boy and His Mother on right

Altarpiece with Madonna and Child on left; Christ and His Mother in center; the Boy and His Mother on right

Hildreth Meière painted an altarpiece for St. Mark’s-on-the-Hill during the Great Depression in 1933. The altarpiece was commissioned by Taylor & Fisher, the firm also responsible for Meière’s decoration of St. Katharine of Sienna in Baltimore.

The iconography of the triptych is complex. The three central scenes are described in a document entitled “In Memory of a Mother; The Reredos and the Altar; Jesus and His Mother.” The rest of the iconography is detailed in “Diagram of symbols.”

"Diagram of Symbols"

"Diagram of Symbols"

On the left panel to the north, Meière depicted the Madonna and Child; in the center panel, Christ and His Mother, together with an inscription from John 19: 26-27: “Woman Behold thy son; Behold thy Mother;” and on the right panel to the south, the Boy and His Mother.

On left: Madonna and Child; in center: Christ and His Mother; on right: the Boy and His Mother

On left: Madonna and Child; in center: Christ and His Mother; on right: the Boy and His Mother

Three small scenes on the predella include the Adoration of the Magi on the left:

Adoration of the Magi

Adoration of the Magi

in the center, Melchizedek offering food and wine to Abraham following the successful expedition against Chedorlaomer (from Genesis 14:18-19):

Melchizedek offering food and wine to Abraham

Melchizedek offering food and wine to Abraham

and the Transfiguration on the right:

Transfiguration

Transfiguration

Surrounding the main scenes are twenty-five symbols depicting the life of Christ from the Annunciation to his Ascension. Each is painted onto a carved wooden shield that forms part of the elaborately carved altarpiece. Three examples include a Lily symbolizing the Annunciation; Jacob’s Ladder symbolizing the Incarnation; and a Shepherd symbolizing the Announcement:

Annunciation Lily

Annunciation Lily

Jacob’s Ladder

Jacob’s Ladder

A Shepherd

A Shepherd

On the doors of the triptych are the words of a hymn surrounded by shields representing the Christian Church Year. Additional symbols represent Mary’s qualities. Bay leaves on the back of the doors represent sorrow at Christ’s untimely death.

Altarpiece with open doors

Altarpiece with open doors

Commission Location

Emblem

St. Mark's-on-the-Hill
1620 Reisterstown Rd
Pikesville, MD 21208

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