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Women's City Club

San Francisco, CA

Auditorium curtain

Trees with milles fleurs, 1927

Commissioned by: Women's City ClubMedium: dye and watercolor on tapestry clothExecuted by: Herter LoomsNonextant

Theater curtain in auditorium

Theater curtain in auditorium

In 1927 the Women’s City Club asked Hildreth Meière to design a curtain for their auditorium. Meière dedicated the commission to the memory of her mother.

As Meière had learned from her work with Bertram Goodhue, it was important to give clients the opportunity to choose among potential designs. She therefore presented the Women’s City Club with four possibilities:

Sketch No. 1

Sketch No. 1

Sketch No. 2

Sketch No. 2

Sketch No. 3

Sketch No. 3

Sketch No. 4

Sketch No. 4

Although she believed it would be problematic, Meière nonetheless presented a figurative scene as Sketch No. 2. Because the curtain had to separate in the middle to open, Meière felt she could not create a successful design with figures in the center. She explained, “This precluded figures and rather forced the tree motif.”1 Having understood Meière’s reasoning, the client accepted Sketch No. 1 with Meière’s preferred tree design, which she then developed:

Final sketch for theater curtain in auditorium

Final sketch for theater curtain in auditorium

The theater curtain also exemplified Meière’s willingness to experiment with different mediums to obtain a desired effect:

When we came to consider the execution (weaving being out of the question because of the expense) it narrowed down at once to some process of painting or dyeing. To paint meant that the material must first be sized and so made stiff. The paint would be heavy and would crack. So the Herter Looms, who decorate as well as weave, undertook to do it in dyes on a heavy rep called tapestry cloth. The material is first sprayed with some chemical which enables it to take the dye and the dye itself is scrubbed on with brushes, sometimes with broad strokes, sometimes, as in the sky, in tiny strokes. Some of the flowers were touched in with watercolors. The result leaves the material perfectly flexible, with its surface unharmed, and gives a rather pleasant tapestry effect.2

The curtain is no longer extant.

1

Hildreth Meière, “Distinguished Artist Comes Home for Visit: Miss Hildreth Meière Tells of the Interesting Work in which She is Engaged,” Women’s City Club Magazine (San Francisco) 1:2 (March 1927): 12.

2

Meière, “Distinguished Artist Comes Home,” p. 12.