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The Elk

1903
Henry Chapman Mercer, American, 1856 - 1930

In 1903 Bucks County potter Henry Mercer received the commission to provide 16,000 square feet of pavement tiles for the new state capitol in Harrisburg. To offset the building’s white marble walls, Mercer designed a floor of red, rough-textured tiles inset with approximately four hundred different mosaic images of Pennsylvania wildlife and history, including the elk.


Rejecting illusionistic effects, Mercer likened his mosaic tiles’ effect to medieval stained glass windows: “mere patches of harmonious color to the individual who rapidly walks across them, while it is only to him who pauses and studies them carefully that their full significance gradually appears.”

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Object Details

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