The Mural: Allegory of the Arts

The main chandelier in Music Hall's Springer Auditorium The mural at the base of the grand chandelier in Springer Auditorium was painted by New York artist Conrad Arthur Thomas (1858-1932). It is believed that he was commissioned to do the work by William F. Behrens, an interior decorator well known throughout the east and someone who had worked with Samuel Hannaford. It is believed that the work was commissioned and completed in 1905 -- although some sources place it occurring in the late 1890s with the first renovation of Music Hall -- and took seven months to complete.

The painting, named ''Allegory of the Arts'', is in the shape of a large, shallow saucer. It is a richly-colored, Neo-Baroque scene that includes figures that represent Music, Literature, Science and History. (Remember, in those days even the center building, which included Springer Auditorium, was used for exposition and meeting space.) In fact, over the years, the mural became coated with dirt and smoke from the lamps used to illuminate the room. It was rediscovered in 1941 when the ceiling of Springer Auditorium was cleaned.

It is difficult to find information about Thomas. What is known is that his murals were done in freso, mixed media and mosaic, and he was primarily known as a painter of Native American art. His work remains on display in Louisville; he painted the murals in the lobby of the Seelbach Hilton Hotel (again using the Baroque style), and in the chamber of the Board of Aldermen in City Hall, St. Louis, Missouri.

RELATED INFORMATION

The Architectural Foundation of Cincinnati has online the ''Biographical Dictionary of Cincinnati Architects, 1788-1940'' by Walter E. Langsam, a board member of SPMH.

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