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Hildreth Meière papers, 1901-2011, bulk 1911-1960

Hildreth Meière papers, 1901-2011, bulk 1911-1960

Meiere, M. Hildreth (Marie Hildreth), 1892-1961

Muralist, Painter, Designer, Mosaicist

Collection Information

Size: 23 linear feet

Summary: The papers of Hildreth Meière measure 23.2 linear feet and date from 1901 to 2011, with the bulk of material dating from 1911 to 1960. The collection documents Meière's life and travels, and her long and prolific career as a muralist and mosaic artist through biographical material, correspondence, writings, thirteen diaries, files regarding her war relief work during the Spanish Civil War and World War II, printed materials, extensive photographs and slides, eight sketchbooks, and two videocassettes and nearly 100 motion picture films documenting her travels, artwork, and home movies.

Biographical/Historical Note

Hildreth Meière (1892-1961) was born in Flushing, New York, and had a prolific career as an architectural muralist, painter, mosaicist, and designer from the 1920s to the 1950s. Meière was an architectural muralist in the Art Deco style; she was also a painter and designer from the 1920s-1950s.

Provenance

A majority of the collection placed on deposit 2001 by Louise Meière Dunn, daughter of Hildreth Meière. The collection was donated incrementally by Dunn through 2012. Donations occurred 2001-2007, and again in 2010-2012.

Funding

Funding for the digitization of 84 reels of motion picture film in the collection was provided by the International Hildreth Meière Association.

A finding aid to the Hildreth Meière papers, 1901-2011, bulk 1911-1960 in the Archives of American Art
AAA.meiemari
Author
Finding aid prepared by Megan McShea
Biographical/Historical note
Hildreth Meière (1892-1961) was born in Flushing, New York, and had a prolific career from 1921-1961 as an architectural muralist working primarily in an Art Deco style. Meière painted murals and designed for various mediums including mosaic, metal, and stained glass. In 1956 the American Institute of Architects awarded Meière their Fine Arts Medal.
Meière was educated at New York’s Convent of the Sacred Heart, Manhattanville, the Art Students League in New York, the California School of Fine Arts (now San Francisco Art Institute), and the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, in addition to pursuing studies in Italy. Her major commissions include the Nebraska State Capitol at Lincoln, the National Academy of Sciences, the Resurrection Chapel of the National Cathedral in Washington, D.C. In New York, she designed the Art Deco plaques on the exterior wall of Radio City Music Hall; created mosaic interiors for the Irving Trust Building at 1 Wall Street; and provided ecclesiastical decorations for St. Patrick’s Cathedral, St. Bartholomew’s Episcopal Church, Temple Emanu-El, and elsewhere. She also created murals for the Chicago 1933 Century of Progress Fair, and the 1939 New York World’s Fair.
She was also an active officer in the Art Students League and the National Society of Mural Painters. Some of her most inspired collaborations were with the architect Bertram Goodhue in the 1920s, and only his sudden death in 1924 put an end to them, although some projects were finished with the successor firm.
Meière died in 1961 at the age of 68. Her work is remembered in several major publications, including
The Art Deco Murals of Hildreth Meière
by Catherine Coleman Brawer and Kathleen Murphy Skolnik, with photographs by Meière’s granddaughter, Hildreth Meière Dunn, published in 2014; and the catalog of the 2009 exhibition at St. Bonaventure University, curated by Brawer and photographed by Dunn, entitled
Walls Speak: the Narrative Art of Hildreth Meière
.
Arrangement note
This collection is arranged in 8 series. Indexes, summaries, and transcripts prepared by Louise Meière Dunn that relate directly to archival materials in the collection are found throughout the collection with the material they describe. These indices are particularly rich in Series 2, Correspondence.
Series 1: Biographical Material, 1915-2003 (0.6 linear feet; Boxes 1, 14, OV18)
Series 2: Correspondence, 1901-2011 (3 linear feet; Boxes 1-4, RD19)
Series 3: Writings, 1904-1960 (1.3 linear feet; Boxes 4-5)
Series 4: Civilian War Service Records, 1938-2006 (0.7 linear feet; Boxes 5-6, 15, 28)
Series 5: Travel Records, 1933-1958 (Boxes 6-10, 15, 28-33, OV18)
Series 6: Printed Material, 1913-1998 (2.1 linear feet; Boxes 10-12, 15, 33)
Series 7: Photographs and Moving Images, 1915-1966 (5.1 linear feet; Boxes 12-13, 16-17, 20-27, 33)
Series 8: Sketchbooks, 1911-1922 (0.4 linear feet; Box 13)
Scope and Contents note
The papers of Hildreth Meière measure 23 linear feet and date from 1901 to 2011, with the bulk of material dating from 1911 to 1960. The collection documents Meière's life and travels, and her long and prolific career as an architectural muralist through biographical material, correspondence, writings, thirteen diaries, files regarding her war relief work during the Spanish Civil War and World War II, printed materials, extensive photographs and slides, eight sketchbooks, and two videocassettes and 93 reels of motion picture film documenting her travels, her volunteer efforts in Spain following the civil war, artwork, and home movies.
Biographical material includes an autobiographical narrative written by Meière, her many awards and certificates, membership information, passports, her U.S. Navy service records from World War I, documentation of her brief marriage and family genealogy, obituaries, and memorial service documentation. Also found are extensive writings and research conducted by Meière's daughter, Louise Meière Dunn, which include a complete list of Meière's commissions, detailed biographical narratives, and records of Meière's works held elsewhere.
The papers contain Meière's personal and family correspondence, travel correspondence, and business correspondence regarding professional activities. Much of the correspondence with family and friends was written during Meière's extensive travels over the world. Both family and travel correspondence have extensive indexes, summaries, and in some cases, transcripts prepared by Meière's daughter, Louise Meière Dunn. Writings include poetry and diaries kept during childhood and school years, travel diaries, essays and talks written about Meière's work, writings Meière prepared for committees of the National Mural Painters Association, and detailed travelogues of her trips to Constantinople and the Balkans in 1933, to Russia in 1936, her "Grand Tour" to Australia, Southeast Asia, India, Africa, and Europe in 1952-1953, and her "Holy Land" tour of the Middle East in 1954.
Civilian War Service Records document Meière's efforts at war relief organization during and after the Spanish Civil War and during World War II. The Spanish Civil War files include extensive photographs provided by the Spanish government as well as three motion picture films documenting refugees and damaged architecture and public artwork shot by Meière during a trip sponsored by Franco's government. World War II activities concern Meière's efforts to organize artists in the United States to design and execute murals and other works of public art at military facilities around the U.S.
Travel records include maps, ephemera, slides, and 83 motion picture films taken on trips abroad between 1933 and 1958. Trips include Eastern and Western Europe, the Mediterranean Region and the Middle East, South America, Mexico and Guatemala, India, Sub-Saharan Africa, Southeast Asia, Australia, New Zealand, Scandinavia, and the UK. The motion picture films are mostly shot in Kodachrome color and many contain intertitles prepared by Meière to identify locations for travel lectures.
Printed materials consist primarily of clippings and publications that reference Meière's work, contain profiles of her, or contain published writings by her. A single published educational film is also found, given to her by an Australian filmmaker friend. Additional photographs and moving images include personal photographs of Meière, with portraits by Peter A. Juley and Sons and Berenice Abbott, photographs of many of her commissioned works, and a few photographs of artwork by others. Home movies show Meière with friends in 1926 and 1940. Among the photographic documentation of artworks by Meière and others are motion picture films of the 1939 New York World's Fair, the D.C. Municipal Building Frieze, and the 1937 Paris Fair; also found are 311 lantern slides and 201 glass copy negatives of her own completed works as well as murals she documented while traveling, notably murals in Norway and Oberammergau, Bavaria, taken in the 1930s.
Eight sketchbooks date to her early years as an art student and artist and include many figure studies, landscapes, and theatrical sketches made at home and abroad.
Provenance
A majority of the collection placed on deposit 2001 by Louise Meière Dunn, daughter of Hildreth Meière. The collection was donated incrementally by Dunn through 2012. Donations occurred 2001-2007, and again in 2010-2012.
Processing Information note
The collection was fully processed and a finding aid prepared by Megan McShea in 2015. Nine reels of motion picture film were reformatted for research access in 2006, 2012 and 2015. The digitization of the remaining 84 reels of film was funded by the The Regina A. Quick Center for the Arts at St. Bonaventure University through a generous grant from the Ruth Dayton Foundation in 2015.

Additional Forms Available

All of the motion picture films have been digitized for research access. The films of the 1939 New York World's Fair and Municipal Center Frieze in Washington D.C. have also been preserved on film, and projection prints of these reels are available for use in accordance with the Archives of American Art's collection loan policies.

Restrictions on Access

Use of original papers requires and appointment and is limited to the Archives' Washington, D.C. Research Center. Glass plate negatives are housed separately and are closed to researchers. Contact Reference Services for more information.

How to Cite This Collection

Hildreth Meière papers, 1901-2011, bulk 1911-1960. Archives of American Art, Smithsonian Institution.

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