FRITZ WILHELM WINOLD REISS (1886–1953)
Original Painting for Cincinnati Union Terminal Mosaic: Ault and Wiborg (Inks and Varnishes), 1930–31
Oil on Muslin, 111 x 116 in.
RECORDED: Gretchen Garner, Winold Reiss and the Cincinnati Union Terminal: Fanfare for the Common Man [Athens, Ohio: Ohio University Press, 2016], pp. 108, fig. 3.2 illus; cf. p. 31, fig. 1.18 illus. in color // cf. Daniel Hurley, “A Vision of Cincinnati: The Worker Murals of Winold Reiss, in Queen City Heritage: Cincinnati Union Terminal and the Artistry of Winold Reiss (The Journal of The Cincinnati Historical Society) 51 (Summer–Fall 1993), p. 87 fig. 9 illus. in color
EX COLL: the artist, to his estate until the present
Reiss’s industrial/worker mosaics celebrate the glory of Cincinnati financial enterprise and mechanical ingenuity. A gift to the people of Cincinnati and all who traveled through the splendid new railroad terminal, they were installed in 1933. In the midst of desperate economic depression, these mosaics lit up the concourse of the Cincinnati Union Terminal, their brilliant colors and shapes punctuating the walls between windows and doorways that led to the railroad platforms (Garner, p. 28 fig. 1.8 illus. in situ). The fourteen murals offered perspective and hope in the shape of Cincinnati industrial history and included William S. Merrell (pharmaceuticals); E. Kahn’s and Sons (meatpacking); American Laundry Machinery; Crosley Broadcasting; Cincinnati Milling Machine Company; American Steel Foundry; Philip Carey Manufacturing (Industrial Insulation); Aeronautical Corporation of America; United States Playing Card Company and Champion Coated Paper; Ault & Wiborg Ink and Varnishing Works; Andrews Steel Rolling Mill, Newport, Kentucky; Baldwin Piano; Procter and Gamble (soap making); and American Oak Leather.
It is testimony to the importance of these murals as civic icons that, threatened with destruction in 1972, when the age of the railroad had passed into history, Reiss’s mosaics were saved after a public hue and cry. Some remain in the former railroad station, now a cultural center. The series of fourteen murals depicting major industries of Cincinnati were moved to the Greater Cincinnati-Northern Kentucky International Airport. Due to airport renovations, in 2016, nine of these were moved to the Duke Energy Convention Center in downtown Cincinnati. The mosaic for the present cartoon of the Ault & Wiborg Printing Ink Company is one of five remaining in the airport. Over the years, Reiss’s murals, beloved as public art, have become a focal point of Cincinnati pride.
The present oil on muslin cartoon is Reiss’s original rendering, prepared for the workshop of the Ravenna Mosaic Company in St. Louis to be fashioned into the mosaic mural now in the Cincinnati Airport.