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World War II Triptychs:

Triptych 159

Young Men in Field Uniforms in the Presence of Christ, 1943

Commissioned by: Citizens Committee for the Army and NavyMedium: oil on woodExecuted by: Hildreth MeièreNonextant

Triptych 159, Young Men in Field Uniforms in the Presence of Christ. Photograph in Citizens Committee for the Army, Navy, and Air Force Records, 1940-1945. Archives of American Art, Smithsonian Institution, Washington, DC

Triptych 159, Young Men in Field Uniforms in the Presence of Christ. Photograph in Citizens Committee for the Army, Navy, and Air Force Records, 1940-1945. Archives of American Art, Smithsonian Institution, Washington, DC

In March 1943, Hildreth Meière traveled to the midwest with Mrs. Junius Morgan, President of the Citizens Committee for the Army and Navy, to encourage people to donate money for triptychs. Meière wrote to her daughter:

Here I am in Chicago—travelling with Mrs. Morgan, to tell people about the triptychs. We went to Indianapolis and had a meeting in the Art Museum—about 200 people came and we got six triptychs promised—I mean the money to pay for six, so we are very pleased.1

One of these six triptychs was ordered by Dr. and Mrs. George H. A. Clowes, who asked Meière to design a triptych for the 2nd General Hospital, Camp Bowie Texas, where their son, a doctor, was serving.2 Mrs. Clowes was very specific as to the imagery and inscriptions that she wanted Meière to depict—contemporary soldiers in the presence of Christ, with quotations from Psalm 121.V 1: I WILL LIFT UP MINE EYES UNTO THE HILLS, FROM WHENCE COMETH MY HELP, and Psalm 23.V 2: HE LEADETH ME BESIDE THE STILL WATERS. HE RESTORETH MY SOUL.3

The Clowes asked Meière to work as quickly as possible so that the triptych would arrive before the hospital shipped out to Europe. Upon its receipt, the Lieutenant Colonel, Medical Corps wrote to Mrs. Clowes:

Believe me when I tell you we all feel its solemn beauty and noble inspiration. It is a piece of art that will turn our drab chapel into a warm place of worship.4

Triptych 159 traveled with the 32nd General Hospital to Germany and France. It was eventually lost.

1

Letter from Hildreth Meière to Louise Meière, March 1943, Hildreth Meière Papers, Smithsonian Institution, Washington, DC.

2

See Catherine Coleman Brawer and Kathleen Murphy Skolnik, The Art Deco Murals of Hildreth Meière (New York: Andrea Monfried Editions, 2014): 204-06, 230.

3

Correspondence between Meière and Dr. and Mrs. George H. A. Clowes is in the Hildreth Meière Papers, Archives of American Art, Smithsonian Institution, Washington, DC.

4

Letter from Frank O. Alexander, Lieutenant Colonel, Medical Corps, Commanding, to Mrs. Clowes, August 18, 1943, HM Papers.

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