Archive for November, 2010
Professor Carolyn Milligan has informed us that the 115 year old statue of Navajo Chief Manuelito will again be on public display in Gallup New Mexico. Sculpted by Hermon Atkins MacNeil in 1895, the 8 foot, 3 inch likeness of the respected Navajo warrior and leader has become a gathering point of cultural pride for citizens and visitors alike. We were recently contacted by Carolyn Milligan, Associate Professor Emeritus, UNM in Gallup, NM, who is the Chair of the McKinley County Fine Arts Committee. She writes:
“Our large sculpture is currently in Santa Fe undergoing a much-needed restoration. I have seen interim reports of the conservation process and plan to visit the work in progress this coming Thursday. Manuelito will soon reside in our new courthouse annex overlooking the plaza.” She further states, “I am contacting you because last year I recommended the County accept a gift from a local businessman who had offered a monumental sculpture of the historic Navajo warrior and later tribal leader, Manuelito. Hermon Atkins MacNeil created this posthumous memorial to Manuelito, commissioned by C.N.Cotton, a wealthy trader with the Navajo, Hopi and Zuni people and who is credited with establishing the national market for Navajo weaving. In the summer of 1895 MacNeil traveled to the Southwest in search of more American Indians. (He found a lot more here than in Chicago!) It was during that trip that MacNeil met Cotton and created the sculpture which then resided in a high niche at the front of Cotton’s store. For a century Manuelito was the visual marker for all travelling on the train that they had arrived in Gallup.”
In July 2010, the McKinley County published a “Request for Proposals (RFP’s) No. 2010-24 for Conservation, Restoration, Including Consultation on Maintenance Plan Moving and Installing for Herman Atkins MacNeil’s CHIEF MANUELITO Sculpture, Gallup, New Mexico”. The proposal describes the sculpture as follows:
The sculpture is a larger than life, polychromed figure of Chief Manuelito (1818–1894), a respected Navajo warrior and leader. It is constructed of gypsum plaster over a wood and metal armature. It was created by Hermon Atkins MacNeil (1866–1947), a prominent sculptor, who created many cast bronze public monuments of historic figures in New York City, Chicago, and on the east pediment of the United States Supreme Court Building in Washington, D.C. MacNeil’s interest in Native American culture brought him to the Southwest as an artist commissioned by the railroad to produce artworks based upon the Native cultures of the Southwest. While in Gallup, MacNeil met C.N.Cotton, a prosperous Gallup trader, who is credited with creating the national market for Navajo rugs. Cotton and Manuelito had been friends. In 1895, (the year following Manuelito’s death from measles and pneumonia), Cotton commissioned MacNeil (and paid him in Navajo rugs) to create this dignified tribute to his friend Manuelito, shown draped in a chief blanket and wearing turquoise nuggets strung around his neck and suspended from his earlobes. The sculpture was planned for, and installed in a high niche on the east façade of the C.N.Cotton store and warehouse, an adobe building adjacent to the Santa Fe Railway tracks in downtown Gallup. For nearly a century the dignified figure of Manuelito was a familiar visual marker to all who traded with C.N. Cotton of his friendship with one of the Navajo’s most respected leaders but the figure also announced to those traveling from the east that they had arrived in Gallup, New Mexico.