R.A.H. (againstathorn) wrote,

George M. Harding

Whenever I think of the Hotel Pere Marquette in Peoria, I always remember the lobby area which showcases two large murals, notably the one alongside the second floor which depicts Father Marquette greeting the Native Americans. Well, this week I took to the Internet to see what history I could find on these two works.

From the 2006 Peoria Public Art Catalog: "This grand hotel, built in 1927, is on the National Register of Historic Places. It is home to two murals by George Mathews Harding, a Philadelphia artist considered the greatest muralist of his day. One mural depicts Father Jacques Marquette in 1673 during a visit with Native Americans on Peoria Lake. The other shows French explorer Robert Cavelier de LaSalle in 1684 aboard his ship, the Joly. Historians confirm the accuracy of the murals due to Harding’s meticulous research."

Turns out George M. Harding (1882-1959) studied under the renowned artist Howard Pyle, produced illustrations which were featured in both the Saturday Evening Post and Harper’s Monthly, and during World War I was involved in the United States Army Art Program. He lived a majority of his life in Philadelphia and received many commissions throughout eastern Pennsylvania, including a total of thirty-one mural panels for the U.S. Custom House in Philadelphia, four murals for the Montgomery County Court House in Norristown, and—as part of the New Deal Art Program—a mural for the Kingston Branch of the Wilkes Barres Post Office. According to the Smithsonian Research Database, works of his are also owned by the Delaware Art Museum, the Brandywine Museum in Chadds Ford, Pa., and the Crocker Art Museum in Sacramento, Ca.







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