Travelers Insurance Banner ?>

Travelers Insurance

Hartford, CT

Lobby wall

Travel in the Early Days of Travel Insurance, 1956

Commissioned by: Voorhees, Walker, Smith & SmithMedium: marble mosaicFabricated by: Foscato

Mosaic on lobby wall

Mosaic on lobby wall

For the lobby of the Travelers Insurance Company at 740 Main Street in Hartford, Connecticut, Hildreth Meière was asked to design a wall mural in marble mosaic that depicted travel in the early days of the company’s history.1 She depicted passengers and porters, with a steam locomotive and horse-drawn carriage behind them.

Meière made a series of sketches to scale for her fourteen-by twenty-eight-foot mosaic, the final one serving as a reference for the mosaicists at the Foscato factory in Long Island City, New York, who fabricated Meière’s design in marble mosaic.

To-scale study in gouache on tracing paper

To-scale study in gouache on tracing paper

She then made a series of cartoons at various scales. The mosaicists traced the outlines of Meière’s design onto tracing paper, then placed the tracing paper face down on heavy paper and rubbed to obtain a reverse image of her original design.2 They divided the traced design into irregular shapes, each approximately one by two feet, and numbered the sections. They also created a master blueprint. Working in reverse with the original full-scale cartoons as a guide, the mosaicists then glued marble tesserae to the numbered paper segments. Their work was not a copy of Meière’s original design, but rather an interpretation in the medium of mosaic.

Mosaicists at the Foscato factory working free-hand on segments of the Travelers Insurance mosaic, with full-scale cartoon on wall as a guide

Mosaicists at the Foscato factory working free-hand on segments of the Travelers Insurance mosaic, with full-scale cartoon on wall as a guide

Meière and Vincent Foscato checking completed mosaic segments against painted cartoon (on rear wall) and to-scale study (on lower left)

Meière and Vincent Foscato checking completed mosaic segments against painted cartoon (on rear wall) and to-scale study (on lower left)

Meière visited the Foscato factory so that she could compare the colors of the completed segments of the mosaic with her full-scale painted cartoon, as well as against her small to-scale study of the entire mural.

The completed mosaic sections were then sent to Travelers Insurance in Hartford for installation:

After preparing the wall with a special cement, the men put the sections in place one at a time, pausing to fit and hammer each into place. When this mammoth job was completed, the paper backing on which the work had been done was removed by soaking it off with water. After patching and cleaning the surface, a special liquid was applied to help bring out the colors and to protect the surface of the mosaic. The mosaic was installed in less than a week, which is a tribute to the accuracy as well as the artistry of the Foscato organization.3
Meière and Vincent Foscato viewing installed mosaic

Meière and Vincent Foscato viewing installed mosaic

1

For a full discussion, see Catherine Coleman Brawer, Walls Speak: The Narrative Art of Hildreth Meière (St. Bonaventure, New York: St. Bonaventure University, 2009): 86-89.

2

For a more detailed explanation and photographs of the mosaic-fabrication process, see Brawer and Kathleen Murphy Skolnik, The Art Deco Murals of Hildreth Meière (New York: Andrea Monfried Editions, 2014): 94-98.

3

“Work of Art: A Beautiful Mosaic Decorates the Lobby at 740 Main Street [Hartford, Conn.],” The Travelers Insurance Companies Beacon 37 nos. 8-9 (May/June 1956): 3.

Commission Location

Emblem

Travelers
740 Main Street
Hartford, CT 06103

Get Directions