Archive for Alexander Stirling Calder
On this 281st anniversary of the birth of George Washington (Feb. 22, 1732), we visit Hermon MacNeil’s famous statue in Washington Square, NYC. Photos here show it both today and in MacNeil’s original plaster model of 1915 from his College Point studio. His model was located just this past year. (See photos below).
CLICK BELOW for The Washington Arch as New Yorkers and visitors stroll southward from Fifth Avenue into Washington Park.
CLICK BELOW for General George Washington ~ MacNeil’s patriot Commander of the Continental Army.
CLICK BELOW for President Washington ~ Alexander Stirling Calder’s rendition of the civilian “Mr. President”
BELOW is my photo of MacNeil’s original studio plaster model for the George Washington Statue. It is about 3 1/2 feet tall.
The actual statues on the Arch are 12 feet tall. They were both carved by the Piccirilli Brothers. To see a clay model for the piece CLICK BELOW =>
The Picarrilli’s were a famous family of stone-carvers and sculptors who made many of the great sculpture carvings of that period (early 20th century).
On February 5, 1911 lightning struck the Missouri Capitol in the evening. Responders included local firefighters, state penitentiary inmates and even fire crews from as far as sixty miles away in Sedalia, Missouri. Many came by train to help. But the building was a total loss. The resulting fire had entirely destroyed the state’s historic building complex (see the ‘day after’ photo below).
After the public saw the devastating results of the fire, donations began to come in for restoration. School children collected coins, the public sent gifts, and private funds contributes as well. All helped to rebuild the the Jefferson City capitol with new sculptures and new art making it more spectacular that before.
Hermon A. MacNeil was one of the many famous American sculptors commissioned for sculptures and art for the new Missouri Capitol after the tragic fire. Other renowned sculptors commissioned for work on the re-built state structure include: James Earl Fraser, Robert Aiken, Alexander A. Weinman, Karl Bitter, and Alexander Stirling C(see photo below)alder.Stay tuned for more on MacNeil’s work there in Jefferson City.
Here are a few images of Independence from Hermon Atkins MacNeil for this 237th Fourth of July Day in the United States of America.
1) From Vincennes, Indiana at the George Rogers Clark National Monument, Here is a hero of the American Revolution:
On a recent visit to the monument, the National Park Ranger commented on the pride and confidence that Hermon MacNeil placed in his rendering of Clark’s gaze and pose for this sculpture. Clark, a Virginia Militia officer, won the approval and support of Patrick Henry, Governor of Virginia, to conduct a daring attack on the British in the Western frontiers. Clark crafted, trained, and commanded a special force of two hundred frontiersman, militia, and Kentucky sharpshooters. Their loyalty to the cause and Clark’s strategy of surprise resulted in capture of the British fortifications on the Western frontiers along the Mississippi, Ohio and Wabash Rivers at Vincennes, IN; Cahokia, IL; Kaskaskia, IL Enduring severe winter hardships, starvation, and sickness their monumental military achievement resulted in British withdrawal from the West and the surrender of territories east of the Mississippi in the Treaty of Paris in 1783. These are due in part to Clark’s Victories. He was the oldest of a family of famous brothers. In 1804 his brother William Clark, along with Meriwether Lewis, would explore the Louisiana Purchase west of the Mississippi for President Jefferson.
2. From New York City, Washington Square Arch. ~ “George Washington, Commander in Chief” by Hermon A. MacNeil.
In 1916 the northeast statue pedestal received its Washington statue after being empty for over 20 years.
The other shelf of the Arch remained empty until 1918 when Alexander Stirling Calder’s “Washington as President” was installed. The installation on the right is a bit confusing. This photo was salvaged from a NYC flea market in June 2012 by John Gomez and used with his permission. John purchased this and other photos of interest to this MacNeil researcher and has graciously allowed their use by webmaster. This ‘strange’ photo shows the MacNeil statue resting on the right-hand side of the Arch where the Calder statue would be placed two years later. (The ladder, rope and pulleys suggest “Men at Work.” Compare the 2012 photo to its left.)
For MacNeil this event took place the same year as the first issue of his sculpture for the U.S. Mint’s “Standing Liberty Quarter.”
For more on the Washington Arch: CLICK HERE
3. From Philadelphia, PA. “The Civil War Soldiers and Sailors Monument.” Benjamin Franklin Parkway.
The second half of the American Revolution (the preservation of the Union) is commemorated in this pair of 60 foot monuments on either side of the parkway entrance.
The back of the monuments read:
~~ “ONE COUNTRY, ONE CONSTITUTION, ONE DESTINY” ~~
~~ “IN GIVING FREEDOM TO THE SLAVE,
WE ASSURE FREEDOM TO THE FREE.” ~~
HEAR & VIEW PHILADELPHIA’S PRIDE IN THIS MACNEIL ART AT:
CLICK HERE and THEN run video by VIMEO.COM
FOR MORE INFO ON THESE MacNeil works see:
December 21st marks the Birthday of Roger Williams (theologian, teacher, preacher, linguist, pioneer, reformer, and spiritual seeker after God).
Hermon Atkins MacNeil’s bust sculpture of Roger Williams ( made in 1920) is only 91 years old, but the man himself was born 317 years earlier on December 21, 1603. (That is a lot of candles to have on a cake).
The sculpture of Williams is one of four that MacNeil made for the Hall. His other subjects were: James Monroe, Francis Parker, and Rufus Choate.
Many of MacNeil’s contemporaries sculptors were commissioned for works at the colonnade: Daniel Chester French, Augustus Saint-Gaudens, A. Stirling Calder, James Earle Fraser, Frederick William MacMonnies, Lorado Taft, and Adolph Weiman. The Hall of Fame is also a virtual “Who’s Who” of American Sculptors.
Over one hundred sculptures line the 630 foot long open-air colonnade. The NeoClassical arc walkway was designed in 1900 on the undergraduate campus of New York University, now Bronx Community College.
The Hall has not added any sculptures since 1975 but remains a stunning collection of American Renaissance art and history. See the articles below for more on both Roger Williams and the Hall of Fame of Great Americans.
- See original photo by Librado Romero/The New York Times at:
University Heights Journal; “A Hall of Fame, Forgotten and Forlorn”
- Wikipedia comments on Roger Williams
- Nick Gier at NewWest offers a this summary of Roger Williams
December of 1895 was an exciting time in the life of Hermon A. MacNeil — A time when he was described as “the most happy young man I know.”
Chicago. In fact, 1985, in general, had been a productive year for the sculptor. Following the 1893 Chicago World’s Fair, times had been tough for both artists and Fair workers. MacNeil had found Black Pipe, (the Sioux from Buffalo Bill’s Wild West Show), cold and hungry on the streets of Chicago. He took him in as studio help and a model for future sculptures.
Marquette. During 1895, Hermon had completed the four bronze panels depicting the life of Fr. Jacques (Père) Marquette. They were put in place over the four entry doors of the Marquette Building (CLICK HERE) where he and his artist friend, Charles F. Browne, shared a studio.
According to information from the MacArthur Foundation (current owner and curator of the Marquette Building), Amy Aldis Bradley wrote in 1895 to Peter Brooks:
After commissioning MacNeil for the exterior bronzes, Aldis wrote to Peter Brooks, “McNeil’s [sic] panels are being placed in position. It is greatly to their and his credit that these bas-reliefs have won for him the Roman [Reinhart] Fellowship. The Commission, choosing him as the best of the very young men…The young sculptor was married on Christmas Day, and sailed for Rome on Wednesday, and is, on the whole, the most happy young man I know. He is very grateful to the owners of the Marquette Building.” (http://marquette.macfound.org/slide/herman-macneil/ )
Rinehart Prize. In December, he received news that he had been named as recipient of the Rinehart Roman Scholarship for study in Rome. Newspapers such as the Nov. 25, 1895 Chicago Tribune (CLICK HERE), and the Dec. 22, 1895 -New York Sun, (CLICK HERE) (columns 5 & 6), contained the news of the selection of this 29 year-old western artist to receive the Prix Rome.
The sculptors on the committee that selected MacNeil for the award were the ‘giants’ among American sculptors of the 19th century. As mentioned in the above newspapers, the Rinehart Roman committee included Augustus Saint Gaudens, John Quincy Adams Ward, and Daniel Chester French.
These famous sculptors were in the prime of their careers. Saint Gaudens, at 47, had been the sculptural advisor for the 1893 World’s Columbian Exposition in Chicago. One tradition suggests that MacNeil asked Saint Gaudens for a letter of reference to Phillip Martiny that got him work on the that Exposition in 1893. John Quincy Adams Ward, at age 65 was the ‘grandfather’ of American sculptors, and the founder as well as standing president of the National Sculpture Society. Daniel Chester French, age 45, was also a founding member of the National Sculpture Society, and sculpted the colossal sixty-foot golden “Republic” centerpiece statue for the Chicago Fair. ( A thirty foot tall miniature golden replica of which still graces Jackson Park in Chicago today.)
On Christmas Day 1895, in Chicago, he married Carol Louise Brooks, also a sculptor. Earlier MacNeil was informed that he had won the Rinehart Roman Scholarship. Following their wedding, the pair left for Rome, passing three years there (1896-1899) and eventually spend a fourth year in Paris where their first son, Claude, was born. During those years they study together under the same masters and live on the shared income of Hermon’s Rinehart Scholarship. (Carol had also studied sculpture with both Lorado Taft and Frederick William MacMonnies and been a member of “The White Rabbits” ~ a self christened group of women sculptors called in to complete the massive work load of ‘staff’ statues needed for the Chicago Fair in 1893. ).
Other events from 1895 would later unfold into sculpture-opportunities for Hermon MacNeil. In May in Greenwich Village, New York City, Stanford White, with assistance from both Frederick MacMonnies and Phillip Martiny, completed a permanent Washington Arch.
The first one, made in 1889 of paper and wood, commemorated the centennial of the inauguration of George Washington. Received with great popularity, the citizens of NYC demanded a permanent Arch monument for their first President. White’s design was dedicated on May 4, 1895 with two empty pedestals, meant for statues of Washington. These niches on the north face of the monument remained empty for almost two decades before MacNeil’s statue of Washington as Commander-in-Chief would fill one pedestal (east side, in 1916), and Alexander Stirling Calder’s statue of Washington as Statesman would fill the other (west side, in 1918).
Of the many spectacular architectural creations that towered over San Francisco at the Pan-Pacific Exposition in 1915, perhaps “The Column of Progress” was one of the more unusual, at least by American standards.
MacNeil’s finial sculpture, “The Adventurous Bowman” atop the column was regarded as “the most splendid expression of sculpture and architectural art in the Exposition.”
The Exposition was a celebration of American achievement in the completion of the Panama Canal, thus the ‘Pan-Pacific’ designation.
In her 1915 book, “Sculpture of the Exposition: Palaces and Courts” author Juliet Helena (Lumbard) James stated:
The prototype of this column is seen in Trajan’s Column in the Forum of Trajan or in the Column of Marcus Aurelius, in Rome.
Both of these ancient prototypes are ‘old world’ symbols of imperial pride for military conquests. Both are in Rome within a mile of each other. Both would be in the familiar foreground during MacNeil’s studies in Rome (1896-99). Perhaps the same could be said for many other sculptors who designed the PPIE and also studied in Rome.
In addition the Column of Marcus Aurelius bears a prototypical resemblance, though perhaps less spectacular.
For video of the Art of Exposition pictured in James’ book see: Juliet Helena (Lumbard) James, Art of the Exposition
Karl Bitter, a longterm colleague of MacNeil’s, organized the overall planning of sculpture for PPIE .
“After working as a sculptor at the World’s Columbian Exposition in Chicago in 1893 and as director at the Pan-American Exposition in Buffalo, New York in 1901, Bitter’s extraordinary organizational skills led him to be named head of the sculpture programs at both the 1904 St. Louis Exposition in St. Louis, Missouri, where Lee Lawrie trained with his guidance, and the 1915 Panama-Pacific Exposition held in San Francisco, California. In 1906/1907, he presided the National Sculpture Society.”
[ Source: Wikipedia http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Karl_Bitter ]
Both Bitter and MacNeil were based in New York City. They worked on at least four world’s fairs together. Both were elected president of the National Sculpture Society – Bitter in 1906-7, MacNeil in 1910-12 and again 1922-24.
While Karl Bitter was the designated the “Chief of Sculpture of the Exposition,” A. Stirling Calder, another one of MacNeil ‘s colleagues and former students, was called, “The man at the wheel in the management of all the works of sculpture at the Panama-Pacific International Exposition.” Bitter was tragically struck by a car in NYC and killed before the PPIE work was completed. Leadership for the completion of the Exposition sculptures then fell on the shoulders of his young assistant, A. Stirling Calder .
Architect – Symmes Richardson, one of the junior partners of the firm of McKim, Meade and White of New York designed the column structurally. This was the architectural firm of “The White City” of the Chicago World’s Fair of 1893. That event jump-started MacNeil’s career as well as those of many artists and sculptors of that era.
The postcard pictured above identifies the Column sculptor as Alexander Stirling Calder. He and MacNeil would later collaborate on their paired statues of George Washington “at War” and “at Peace” for the Washington Arch in New York City. By 1914 MacNeil had already begun working on his ‘General Washington’ statue erected in 1916. Calder’s ‘President Washington’ would be placed on the Arch two years later. Stanford White, another architect from McKim, Mead and White designed the Washington Arch.
Juliet James offers a detailed interpretation and description of the “Column of Progress” in her book.
“The Column of Progress”
The bas-reliefs at the base are by Isadore Konti of New York. The sum of all human effort is represented. Man’s spiritual progress is seen on the four sides of the base. Atlas rolling the heavens suggests the passage of time. Men with their different ideals in the long procession of progress are seen. Some go manfully on, some fearfully, some feel the need of the sword to win their way, others find companions necessary, but all of these men and women must have faith (represented by the two meaningful women at the door), the hope of the palm of victory, and hear the bugle call as they go on their upward climb. They pass before us, these men and women of different aspirations, and disappear from view. Up, up they climb. At the top of the column is Hermon A. McNeil’s Burden Bearers, supporting his Adventurous Bowman. “All must toil to win” and some must bend their backs that others may rise. Has it not been so at the Panama Canal? Have not many done the labor that the United States, the Adventurous Bowman, may win? This purposeful type of manhood, with magnificent decision, has just drawn the bow, and on has sped the arrow of success. The bowman looks to see it hit the mark. The man on the right possibly is one of his aids. The little woman at his side will know by his eyes if the arrow has gone home, and she will then bestow upon him the laurel wreath and the palm of victory which she holds in her hand. She stands ready to help him. See the group from the sea-wall directly in front of the Column of Progress for the splendid purpose expressed in the figure and on the face of the “Adventurous Bowman.” Many San Franciscans would like to have this wonderful group duplicated in bronze to remain permanently with the city of the Exposition of 1915.”
While not a part of the Column of Progress, MacNeil’s “Signs of the Zodiac” were also an appreciated part of his contribution to the Exposition. This sculpture was destroyed as well. [This is the only surviving photo that I have found to date - Webmaster.]