Archive for June, 2011
The Poppenhusen Institute (just blocks from the site of MacNeil’s Studio and home) in College Point, Queens, NYC has made an urgent Appeal for $3000. The money will secure the shipment and handling of several MacNeil Statues being donated to the Institute.
The Landmark Poppenhusen Institute in College Point, Queens has been presented with the opportunity to obtain a number of statues by Hermon Atkins Mac Neil. We are anxious to accept this offer since Mac Neil was the head of the art department at the Institute for many years and also served as its president. He also lived in this community of more than 40 years.
The cost of packing, and transporting these sculptures is $3,000. Won’t you consider contributing to this cause. You can learn more about the Institute, visit our website at www.poppenhuseninstitute.org.
We are a tax exempt (501C3), therefore all donations are tax deductible according to the N.Y.S. Tax Deduction Law.
Checks can be sent to: Poppenhusen Institute, P.O. Box 91, College Point, NY 11356
Thank you for your anticipated support.
Bob Walker (illustrator, sculptor, and long time College Point resident), has informed us just yesterday of these needs and developments. He also sent the wonderful detail photo of “The Coming of the White Man” shown above. This plaster model is MacNeil’s original sculpture from which the Portland bronze grouping was cast by Bureau Brothers foundry of Los Angeles. This original work is on display in the auditorium of the Institute. Bob has also told us that:
These plaster works will be joined by other pieces by MacNeil being donated to become in the future, a substantial MacNeil collection to be exhibited at Poppenhusen.
The Poppenhusen Institute built in 1868 by Conrad Poppenhusen was established to be a learning institute open to all people providing the opportunity to improve their lives by offering adult education and the first free kindergarten in the USA in 1870. It continues to serve the community by offering Theater groups, Music and Art programs, Lectures, Historic exhibits and creative workshops for children.
Susan Brustmann and her dedicated staff have done an amazing job of keeping the Institute together with creativity and hard work.
This request for funds is a first step in expanding the MacNeil Collection of the Institute. Thanks to the Poppenhusen Institute, its donors, and the people of College Point, Queens, the MacNeil Collection there can be expanded.
MacNeil Park was dedicated by Mayor Lindsey in 1967. That act permanently placed the name of “Hermon A. MacNeil” in the community he and Carol loved, and where their home and studio stood for 50 years.
Bob Walker has lived in College Point for 46 years just a few blocks from the site of the MacNeil studio and home. Bob also gives us the ultimate web-surfer compliment, “I have really enjoyed your website as I am a fan of MacNeil’s work and I’m grateful to find a site dedicated to his sculpture.” (Thanks Bob for your ongoing contribution here as well. – webmaster Dan)
PLEASE HELP these MacNeil sculptures to come home to College Point. Send your check today to: Poppenhusen Institute, P.O. Box 91, College Point, NY 11356
Hermon served as president of the Poppenhusen Institute board and donated the his original plaster model. Click in this link for a stunning photo and the Poppenhusen story — “The Coming of the White Man” .
A previous post here tells the whole story. CLICK HERE.
Today June 14th, 75 years ago, MacNeil’s statue of George Rogers Clark was dedicated by President Roosevelt:
Timeline of the Monument:
- 1928 - May 23 — President Calvin Coolidge signs bill establishing the George Rogers Clark Sesquicentennial Commission.
- 1930 – February 14 — Frederick C. Hirons is selected as architect of the memorial.
- October 2 — Commission selects Erza Winter to paint the memorial murals.
- December 1 — Hermon MacNeil is selected to sculpt statuary.
- 1933 – May 26 — Contractor W R. Heath informs George Rogers Clark Sesquicentennial Commission that memorial is complete.
- 1934 – April — Heath Construction Company arranges to have workers make first in a series of repairs of structure to try and stop leakage.
- 1936 – June 14 — President Franklin D. Roosevelt participates in dedication of George Rogers Clark Memorial.
President and Mrs. Franklin Delano Roosevelt En route to the dedication of the George Rogers Clark Memorial in Vincennes, IN, on June 14, 1936 (Knecht 4878)
- Click to view enlarged image.
- [Photo Credit: at http://www.willard.lib.in.us/online_resources/photography_gallery_detail.php?ID=22 ]
- Enansville (IN) Courier & Press article : http://www.courierpress.com/news/2009/may/25/vincennes-memorials-restoration-is-75-years-in/
The Clark Memorial is more than 80 feet high and is 90 feet across at the base. The walls are two feet thick. The exterior is composed of granite from Vermont, Minnesota, and Alabama. Towering over the entrance is an eagle with outspread wings. Above the 16 Doric columns is an inscription which reads: “The Conquest of the West – George Rogers Clark and The Frontiersmen of the American Revolution.”
Inside the rotunda are seven murals, each created on a single piece of Belgium linen 16 feet by 28 feet. They were painted by Ezra Winter during a period of approximately two and a half years. Hermon Atkins MacNeil, designer of the Standing Liberty quarter, sculptured the bronze statue of Clark. Three of Clark’s quotations are inscribed in the memorial: “Great things have been effected by a few men well conducted;” “Our cause is just . . . our country will be grateful;” and “If a country is not worth protecting it is not worth claiming.” There are Roman numerals at three locations. Left of the steps are the numerals, 1931, the year construction of the memorial began.
Above the memorial’s entrance door are the Roman numerals for the years, 1779 and 1933. In 1779, Clark captured Fort Sackville from the British and in 1933, the memorial was completed. Clark’s birth and death years of 1752 and 1818 encircle the statue’s base. [ from: http://www.stateparks.com/george_rogers_clark.html ]
It is highly fitting that the nation honors the great individuals and deeds of the past. Certain things do not change. The virtues that Clark and his men exhibited transcend an era. A memorial such as this serves as a reminder that courage, fortitude, and valor do not go out of style. The truly great heroes of history age well and provide guidance for the future.
MacNeil’s “Moqui Runner” is running through a prominent Chicago Library. The “Runner’s” race began in 1924 and continues into the 21st century.
According to Scott Manning Stevens, Ph.D. (director of the McNickle Center at the Newberry), it is very likely that this Moqui belonged to Edward Everett Ayer himself. Its dimensions are the same as those specified in this AIC collection entry [AIC – “Moqui Runner”]
Edward Ayer also encouraged the young McNeil to travel to the American west and southwest. He urged artists and sculptors to capture the vanishing images of the native culture. In addition he was a patron of many artisans in such travels and western studies.
A portrait of Ayer’s office painted by his nephew, Elbridge Ayer Burbank, includes two MacNeil statuettes (light gray pieces) sitting on the bookcases. The one on the left resembles “Early Toil” (a figure of a native American woman carrying many objects of her daily labor). The other figure on the right appears to be “A Chief of the Multnomah” (an arrow straight chief standing proudly with his arms crossed over his chest). This second piece became the right half of the “Coming of the White Man” grouping that can be seen in Portland’s Washington Park and in Poppenhusen Institute in College Point, Queens, NYC (and in the previous post of June 1, 2011 on this website-see link at bottom).
The fact that Ayer private study would include these two MacNeil sculptures offers perpetual record to his connection to the artist and patronage of his western work. The fact that Ayer’s nephew included them in his painting composition bears testimony to his awareness of his uncle’s identity with MacNeil pieces.
MacNeil had Blackpipe model in his Chicago studio that he shared with C. F Browne after the 1893 Chicago World’s Fair. Blackpipe continued to work for him through 1894. This all gives evidence of his fascination with Native people and making them subjects of his sculpture. His travels in 1895 to the southwest (later called the four corners area) greatly influenced his sculpture choices for years to come. These works became the objects of his early public acclaim. Yet their influence remained throughout his career both personally and publicly. In 1931, for example, the Society of Medalists commissioned him to make their annual medal. The “Prayer for Rain” (the obverse – patterned after the “Moqui” shown here) and the “Hopi” (reverse) became his chosen subject. [“Hopi” was the later preferred spelling of the earlier “Moqui.”]
MacNeil’s Exhibit listings for the 1901 Pan-American Exposition are recorded in “The Catalogue of the Exhibition of Fine Arts.” Pan-American Exposition: Buffalo, 1901. p. 45-46; 59 This document indicates that the statue belonging to E. E. Ayer, Esq by 1901 was the one exhibited in the Pan-American exposition and receiving the Silver Medal in the Paris Fair of 1900. It appears that the Ayer Moqui pictured here is that same sculpture.
Records in the Catalogue of Pan-American Exposition of 1901 in Buffalo, NY are as follows:
H. A. MacNeil:
#1613. The Sun Vow – Silver Medal, Paris Exposition, 1900.
#1614. The Moqui Runner – Silver Medal, Paris Exposition, 1900 (Lent by E. E. Ayer, Esq)
#1615. Bust — Agnese
#1616. Bust – [Lent by C. F. Browne, Esq.]
MacNeil, H. A., 145 West 55th Street, New York, N. Y. (II*) 1613-1616
*II – indicates MacNeil exhibited in “Group II – Sculpture, including medals and cameos” p. 49.
The Art Institute of Chicago lists the following collection information:
- Hermon Atkins MacNeil
- American, 1866-1947
- The Moqui Runner (The Moqui Prayer for Rain—The Returning of the Snakes), Modeled 1896, cast c. 1897
- H. 57.2 cm (22 1/2 in.)
- Signed on side of base: “H. A. MAC NEIL. Sc. Fond. Nelli. ROMA”
- Inscribed around side of base, front: “THE RETURNING OF THE SNAKES”
- Inscribed under center of the figure, on base: “THE MOQUI / PRAYER.FOR.RAIN”
- Gift of Edward E. Ayer, 1924.1350
This month’s MacNeil postcard again features the “Coming of the White Man” statue in Portland, Oregon. Thisb&w p hoto postcard shows the statue as it looked in its first year, 1906. The postcard (which was actually mailed for 1 cent in 1907 – ‘from Chas’) is now owned by Gib Shell. Note the fresh landscaping around the base of the statue. Also the complete oak branch in the hand of the young scout (before it was broken off – see below).
“Everything Must Go” was a feature story in the “Queens Chronicle” by Elizabeth Daley, editor (March 11, 2011). Michael Halberian lived in the former Steinway Family Mansion. It is uncertain whether the MacNeil sculpture was a Steinway heirloom that sold with the mansion or whether Mike discovered it in his appraisal work.
This Queens blogger suggests that the Steinway mansion was something of a museum – free to the public for much of its lifetime: http://queenscrap.blogspot.com/2011/03/steinway-mansion-artifacts-to-be.html
The original plaster sculpture from which this bronze is cast now stands in the Poppenhusen Institute in Queens, NYC just several blocks from MacNeil Park near MacNeil’s home and studio on College Point. Hermon served as president of the institute board and donated the original plaster model to them. A previous post here tells the whole story. CLICK HERE
The figure on the right with crossed arms was also cast singlely and entitled “The Chief of the Multnomah.” It was later cast in miniatures also. ~
It is possible that MacNeil patterned this statue after Blackpipe, a Sioux Warrior in Buffalo Bill’s Wild West Show that he befriended after the 1893 Chicago Fair. Blackpipe worked off and on at MacNeil’s studio during 1894. Thirty years later, J. W. McSpaden conversed with MacNeil about how he developed an interest in Indian subjects:
MACNEIL: “Yes, and you may find it an interesting yarn. Buffalo Bill’s Wild West Show had been in Chicago during the Fair, and one of his braves was Black Pipe, a Sioux, a fine-looking fellow. He had stayed behind, and one day I met him on the streets, looking hungry and cold, and asked him if he wanted something to do. He did there was no doubt about that. I took him into the studio, fed him up, and then set to work modeling his head. I finished it in four hours, for I was not sure that I would ever see my Indian again; but he stayed with me in all for a year and a half, helping me with odd jobs about the studio. That’s his head there.”
It was a life-size bronze, which he indicated, not done in full relief but resting on a plaque a strong piece of portraiture.
MCSPADDEN: “In this and your later work with Indians,” I inquired, “did you have any trouble about making their likenesses? Some of them object to being photographed.”
MACNEIL: “Yes, many of the older Indians object; they think it takes the spirit out of them. But Black Pipe had been among white folks long enough to know better, and with others I managed to get around their superstitions. Black Pipe, by the way, posed for ‘The  Primitive Chant 5 which is one of my best-known Indian subjects.”
This is the spirited figure of a naked savage dancing to the music of his own flute. It has been widely copied in art prints.
Source: Joseph Walker McSpadden, Famous Sculptors of America, (New York:Dod, Mead and Company, 1924) pp. 311-12
The Smithsonian archives contain a photo of “Blackpipe” in their MacNeil collection of papers and photos. (No other images or location of this sculpture is known to this author). McSpadden’s description, “It was a life-size bronze, which he indicated, not done in full relief but resting on a plaque a strong piece of portraiture” suggests a permanent piece of art. It’s lineage after 1922 and present whereabouts (even existence) remain a mystery to this author.