About the Artist
Marie Herndl was the only woman in her time to succeed as an artist in
stained glass. Born in Munich, German in 1859 she came to Milwaukee in
1899. Although she chose to pursue an artistic career in painted glass,
she admitted it was a difficult profession. In a Milwaukee Journal article
in 1911 she said, "For a long time I had a hard time: the ways of
the artist are not always bright, nor is the work as easy as some imagine...The
work is so hard that unless one is determined and diligent as well as
in love with it, failure is certain." Herndl died at her home in
Milwaukee on May 14, 1912 at the age of 53.
The Hans Christian Andersen window was completed in 1896 and hung in
the original children's library in the Central Library building. It was
restored by Conrad Schmidt Studios for the grand opening of the children's
room in 1998. The Latin phrase "Exegi monumentum aere. Perennius"
which appears at the bottom of the window is a quote from the odes of
the Latin poet Horace when speaking of his writings. It is translated:
"I have erected a monument more lasting than bronze," a fitting
comment on Andersen's work as well, which is still cherished by millions.
Herndl's "The Fairy Queen" received a bronze medal at the Chicago
World's Fair in 1893. It was given to the Milwaukee Arena-Auditorium Board
in 1912 and now belongs to Melanec's Wheelhouse Restaurant. After she
won gold medals at the St. Louis World's Fair in 1904, the government
commissioned two skylights for buildings in Washington, as well as a skylight
13 feet in diameter featuring the seals of the original 13 colonies for
the United States senate building. Herndl also created a skylight portraying
the Statue of Liberty for which a Milwaukee society woman, unnamed by
Herndl, served as a model.
Locally, Patrick Cudahy commissioned a three-panel colored glass window
in 1911 for the staircase of his daughter's home. The panels represented
spring, summer and fall, scenes from the Cudahy summer home at Pine
Lake. Six of Herndl's windows depicting the life of Christ are in Christ
King Chapel at St. Francis Seminary.