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Temple Emanu-El

New York, NY

Ark

Floral and geometric designs, 1929

Commissioned by: Mayers, Murray & PhillipMedium: Byzantine-style glass mosaicFabricated by: Pühl & WagnerInstalled by: Ravenna Mosaics

Eight-story-high arch in main sanctuary with Ark on eastern wall

Eight-story-high arch in main sanctuary with Ark on eastern wall

Temple Emanu-El is the largest synagogue in the world, seating 2,500 people. Designed by Kohn, Butler, and Stein, the Moorish-Romanesque facade symbolizes a mingling of Eastern and Western cultures. Associate architects Mayers, Murray & Phillip were responsible for the interior decoration. They called upon Hildreth Meière to provide Byzantine-style glass mosaic decoration for the eight-story-high arch of the main sanctuary encasing the altar (bema) and the Ark housing the Torah scrolls on the eastern wall behind it.1

The Ark is designed to look like an open Torah Scroll:

Ark in shape of open Torah scroll

Ark in shape of open Torah scroll

Meière enclosed the marble frame surrounding the bronze doorway of the Ark with a floral border design in glass mosaic, punctuated by various quatrefoil shapes that relate to those on the doors:

Details of floral design punctuated by quatrefoil shapes

Details of floral design punctuated by quatrefoil shapes

On either side of the marble frame enclosing her mosaics, she placed colorful, small lozenge-shaped inserts in glass mosaic into the marble, visible on the far left:

Detail of glass mosaic inserts

Detail of glass mosaic inserts

Meière’s floral and geometric designs for the Ark differ from the geometric patterns decorating the columns of the arch. They also differ from her designs in the narthex at St. Bartholomew’s Church that she worked on simultaneously, thereby reflecting the variety Meière was able to achieve within her Art Deco style.

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, 2016) 84-89.

Additional Resources

Commission Location

Emblem

Temple Emanu-El
One East 65th Street
New York, NY 10065

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