Hildreth Meière a distinguished Art Deco muralist, painter and decorative artist, ranks with the very small number of women artists -- such as Violet Oakley, Berenice Abbott, Isabel Bishop and Georgia O'Keeffe -- whose achievements gained the recognition of the established art world during the first half of this Century.
Educated at New York's Convent of the Sacred Heart, Manhattanville, the Art Students’ League, the California School of Fine Arts (now the San Francisco Art Institute), the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, and in Florence, Italy, she became the country's leading practitioner of the art of mosaic, and one of America's most gifted embellishers of architectural environments.
Her major commissions include the Nebraska State Capitol at Lincoln, and the National Academy of Sciences, the Municipal Center and the Resurrection Chapel of the National Cathedral in Washington, DC. In New York, her most famous designs are the Art Deco plaques on the exterior wall of Radio City Music Hall. Her work may be found in St. Patrick's Cathedral, St. Bartholomew's Episcopal Church, Temple Emanu-El, and the banking room of The Bank of New York Mellon (formerly the Irving Trust Company) at One Wall Street. Her murals also appeared in Chicago's 1933 Century of Progress Fair, and the 1939-40 New York World's Fair. An accomplished ecclesiastical artist, she created numerous altarpieces and stained glass windows. During World War II, she supervised the creation of over five hundred portable altarpieces for military chaplains of all denominations -- seventy of which were her designs.
As she herself succinctly summarized her career: "Having begun at the top with the National Academy of Sciences and the Nebraska State Capitol, the long list of commissions, well over a hundred, have come of themselves. For the past thirty-five years I have maintained a large studio and have supported myself by my work. . . . I have [also] been active in professional organizations, believing that we owe some of our time and energies to them." *
Indeed, Hildreth Meière served as President of the National Society of Mural Painters and the Liturgical Arts Society (the latter founded in her studio), was First Vice President of the Architectural League of New York (one of the first women members, she received its Gold Medal in Mural Painting in 1928), was a director of the Municipal Arts Society, an Associate of the National Academy of Design, and was appointed the first woman on the New York City Art Commission.
Hildreth Meière as an artist was a significant figure in several important areas of American visual culture. First, she was most famous as an Art Deco muralist and decorator whose work stands among the most distinguished of her era. Second, she is an important figure in the history of American Liturgical Art, and one of its most ecumenical practitioners. Third, she is one of the preeminent mosaicists in the history of American art. Finally, she is a woman artist who was able to gain the respect of the greatest muralists and architects of her day. In 1956 she was the first woman honored with The Fine Arts Medal of the American Institute of Architects:
A Master of Murals: the world of art might write your name high on the list of the great among our painters and write truly, but not fully. Mosaic, terra cotta, leaded glass, metal, gesso -- these and still other media respond gratefully to the direction of your heart and hands. Your collaboration with architects and other artists brings more than the addition of beauty; it transfuses the joint concept and makes it indivisible. In accepting one more token, added to all the expressions of grateful appreciation your work has earned, you will permit us the realization that you are giving the institute the greater honor.
* From "Hildreth Meière - Her Life and Times," written by Hildreth Meière c. 1955.