WELCOME to the “Hermon A. MacNeil” — Virtual Gallery & Museum !

~ Welcome to the virtual Gallery that celebrates Hermon Atkins MacNeil, American sculptor of the Beaux Arts School. Over 120 stories and 600 photos create this digital museum / classroom. MacNeil led a generation of American sculptors in capturing many fading Native American images in the realism of this classic style. He also designed and sculpted for World's Fairs, public monuments, coins, and buildings across to country. [ Over 50 hot-links on the lower right columns lead to photos and information about various works by MacNeil. ]
~ At HermonAtkinsMacNeil.com, we celebrate his work 24/7.
~ Each February is "MacNeil Month" to honor his birth on February 27, 1866.

Visit MacNeil’s Monuments & Sculptures All Around Us!

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Archive for Cass Gilbert

“Slow but steady wins the race.” 

So said Aesop in the fable of the “Tortoise and the Hare.” And those are the two last figures that Hermon A. MacNeil placed as ‘bookends’ on either end of the East Pediment of the US Supreme Court Building. On our recent visit to Washington, D.C., we slowly made our way to the Supreme Court Building, we walked steadily around to the East Pediment (back side) passing the barricades for all the current landscape construction.

There, hidden high on the seldom-seen back side of **Cass Gilbert’s last architectural achievement, rests the eleven marble figures of Hermon A. MacNeil’s tribute to “Justice: The Guardian of Liberty.”   Unless you walk around the building you will miss this massive work of art.  

Moses, Confucius, and Solon represent three great world civilizations.   Moses (receiver of Hebrew Ten Commandments) is in the center.  To his right is Confucius (Chinese philosopher and teacher).  To Moses’ left is Solon (Athenian lawmaker, statesman, and poet).  MacNeil explained his work as follows:

“Law as an element of civilization was normally and naturally derived or inherited in this country from former civilizations. The ‘Eastern Pediment’ of the Supreme Court Building suggests therefore the treatment of such fundamental laws and precepts as are derived from the East.”

This trio of law makers are framed on left and right by three pairs of allegorical figures.  The rest of the grouping is as follows:

“Flanking this central group – left – is the symbolical figure bearing the means of enforcing the law. On the right a group tempering justice with mercy, allegorically treated. The “Youth” is brought into both these groups to suggest the “Carrying on” of civilization through the knowledge imbibed of right and wrong. The next two figures with shields; Left – The settlement of disputes between states through enlightened judgment. Right – Maritime and other large functions of the Supreme Court in protection of the United States. The last figures: Left – Study and pondering of judgments. Right – A tribute to the fundamental and supreme character of this Court. Finale – The fable of the Tortoise and the Hare.

East Pediment description: CLICK HERE

** NOTE: Gilbert, Sr. died in 1934, one year before the completion of the Supreme Court Building by his son, Cass Gilbert, Jr.  MacNeil and Gilbert first collaborated in 1904 at the Saint Louis World’s Fair.  That “Palace of Fine Arts” on Art Hill now houses the St. Louis Art Museum.”  

The three MacNeil sculptures above the main entrance of Cass Gilbert’s ‘Palace of fine Arts’ are examples of the Beaux Arts style of World Fairs of this era. (http://www.slam.org/).

For more on Supreme Court Building See Also:

1.  http://hermonatkinsmacneil.com/2010/05/29/tortoise-and-hare-taken-to-supreme-court/

2.  http://hermonatkinsmacneil.com/2010/08/07/moses-confusius-and-solon-at-supreme-court/

3.  http://hermonatkinsmacneil.com/2012/01/21/hermon-macneils-supreme-court-sculptures-the-tortoise-the-hare-revisited/

For more on Saint Louis World’s Fair See Also:

1.  http://hermonatkinsmacneil.com/2010/08/06/macneil-sculpture-st-louis-art-museum/

2.  http://hermonatkinsmacneil.com/2011/03/26/1904-louisiana-purchase-exposition-saint-louis-worlds-fair/

3.  http://hermonatkinsmacneil.com/2011/03/12/expositions-and-worlds-fairs-hermon-a-macneil/

Andrew Jackson tips his hat to the White House and the Washington Monument. The statue cast by Clark Mill in 1853 occupies the center of Lafayette Square.

I recently visited our nation’s Capitol with family. Sculpture and history are everywhere.  On the way to the Supreme Court to take a few photos of MacNeil’s tortoise and the hare, I was lured away by a few wonderful sites.

So the East Pediment of 11 figures (Moses, Confucius, Solon, the tortoise and the hare, and six others) would have to wait.

In front of the White House in Lafayette Square, I found Andrew Jackson rearing up on horseback and waiving his hat to the White House and Washington monument in the distance. Apparently, he has been doing that pose for over 160 years when Clark Mills’ tribute to Jackson was emplaced.  For more perspectives and close-up details on this piece click HERE at DCmemorials.com.

 

The First Division Monument of WWI was designed by Cass Gilbert. This golden "Victory" was the work of Daniel Chester French.

Behind the Old Executive Office Building, high on a Roman column stood “Victory” by Daniel Chester FrenchCass Gilbert was also the architect of this WWI memorial to the First Infantry Division.   All of the funds for the monument as well as the additions were provided by the Society of the First Infantry Division. 

To see this full monument and others in the Ellipse and D.C. CLICK HERE. The StationStart.com website provides photos and history to accompany your ride on the Metro through the Capitol.

On across the street stands the Washington Monument which is closed for structural repairs following the earth quake last year. Some mortar was loosened and cracks opened.  But the spire stands tall and proud like the General himself.

On down the hill to the west rests the WWII Memorial.  Nestled into the center of the Mall, this oval dish of fountains, pools, and 56 state and territorial salutes gathers people into a living history.  Veterans of WWII, some of the last remaining were there on that sunny Saturday morning giving dignity and flesh and blood to this stunningly compelling tribute.  As a VA Chaplain, I found myself shedding more tears here and recalling the veterans I have been privileged to know.

The WWII Monument is just down the hill from the Washington obilisk. Across the pool of fountains we see the 4048 gold stars and the Lincoln Memorial in the distance.

ALL GAVE SOME - SOME GAVE ALL. 4048 Gold Stars commemorate the 404,800 American soldiers who died in World War II.

ALL GAVE SOME – SOME GAVE ALL.  These 4048 Gold Stars commemorate the 404,800 American soldiers who died in World War II. Each Gold Star here represents 100 dead.

During the war, each mother of a veteran would place a Blue Star in the front window of the family home. A Gold Star is what a mother placed if a son had been killed in action.

For more photos and history on this monument see HERE.

COMING: Next post will take us to the Lincoln Memorial to see Daniel Chester French’s most renowned sculpture.

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   At each corner of the East Pediment of the U.S. Supreme Court Building, Hermon MacNeil placed the figures of a ‘tortoise’ and a ‘hare.’  His local newspaper (“Brooklyn Daily Star”) carried the story below on the MacNeil’s 67th Birthday, February 27, 1933.

Published on Hermon A. MacNeil’s 67th Birthday – February 27, 1933 – In the “Brooklyn Daily Star” – Front Page One, Columns 6 & 7.

MacNeil’s ‘Tortoise’ on the north corner of his east pediment sculpture MacNeil’s ‘Hare’ on south corner of east Pediment sculpture.

 The greater figures (Moses, Confucius, and Solon [not Plato]) received more publicity and scrutiny.  Some questioned that placement as making some ‘religious’ statement (See previous Posting of Jan 13th, 2012).

MacNeil’s use of the little symbolic animals so familiar to readers of Aesop’s Fables (children’s readings from a century ago) may seem quaint in 21st Century media, but provide an appropriate allegorical meaning and use of confined ‘space.’

Also see previous story on this website at:

Tortoise and Hare taken to Supreme Court

MacNeil’s ‘Hare’ on south corner of east Pediment sculpture.

Of further note in the “Brooklyn Daily Star” article is the reference to Alden MacNeil. He was Hermon and Carol’s younger son.  Whether he worked ‘for’ Cass Gilbert or ‘with’ the famous architect is unclear.  I suspect the later.  Either way being “associated” with Cass Gilbert the renowned architectural firm on the Supreme Court Building project is a significant point of the story.

US Supreme Court Building, East Pediment, Washington, D.C.

When the Supreme Court justices considered whether the Ten Commandments could be displayed on government property, they did so under the watchful eyes of none other than Hermon MacNeil’sMoses“. This ironic observation was made in 2005 by Andrea James in a Religious News Service article entitled:  “In the Supreme Court itself, Moses and his law on display”  ( published March 3, 2005 at http://www.christianindex.org/1087.article ). 

Three great law makers ~ Moses (center) flanked by Confucius (left) and Solon (right) ~ represent three great world cultures ~ (Judeo-Christian, Eastern Asian, Greco-Roman)

While it seems difficult to NOT associate ‘religious connotations’ with representations of ‘Moses,’ wherever they may be, MacNeil’s interpretation of his sculpture is quoted as follows:

MacNeil didn’t intend his sculptures to have religious connotations. Explaining his work, MacNeil wrote, “Law as an element of civilization was normally and naturally derived or inherited in this country from former civilizations. The ‘Eastern Pediment’ of the Supreme Court Building suggests therefore the treatment of such fundamental laws and precepts as are derived from the East.”  ( http://architecture.about.com/od/greatbuildings/ss/SupremeCourt_7.htm )

MacNeil's sculptures of Moses, Confucius, and Solon on the East Pediment of the Supreme Court Building in Washington, D.C.

Moses appears as the central figure on the Supreme Court building’s east side holding  two stone tablets. The pediment was started in 1932 and completed in 1934.  Cass Gilbert was the building architect. He and MacNeil collaborated  in 1904 of the Saint Louis Art Museum built as the “Palace of Fine Arts” for the World’s Fair known as the ‘Louisiana Purchase Exposition.”

In her 2005 news article, Andrea James reports multiple appearances of ‘Moses’ in the building housing the last final option for appeals in the U.S. Judiciary Branch of government:

“The Jewish lawgiver is depicted several times in the stone and marble edifice that is the Supreme Court building, and so are the Ten Commandments. In sculpture, Moses sits as the prominent figure atop the building’s east side, holding two tablets representing the Ten Commandments. And on the wall directly behind the chief justice’s chair, an allegorical “Majesty of Law” places his muscular left arm on a tablet depicting the Roman numerals I through X.

Believers are convinced those are indeed the commandments given to Moses as described in the biblical Book of Exodus. Others say the 10 numbers represent the Bill of Rights.”

Regardless of past or future discussions the Supreme Court Building and the implied connotations of the presence of ‘Moses’ depicted there, MacNeil used multiple figures representing a diversity of cultures.  These various traditions of laws  written on tablets, scrolls or  parchment are used throughout the Building. 

In addition, this practice is consistent with the plans  of Thomas Jefferson, George Washington and patterns  used in other government buildings, including the U. S. Capitol Building with its Classic temple architecture. 

“In 1792, Thomas Jefferson and Thomas Johnson placed of an advertisement announcing a Capitol architectural contest in a Philadelphia newspaper. The ad contained rules and requirements for size and numbers of rooms and such. The judges of the competition were George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, and Commissioners of the District of Colombia. The philosopher Jefferson, a classically educated man like many of the founders, saw in temple designs like the Temple of the Sun, the Parthenon and the Roman Pantheon a symbolism of democracy and philosophy resurrected.

Jefferson, Washington and the committee thought that the new capitol building(s) should symbolize a Temple of Liberty in a secular sense. Entries were mostly Renaissance or Georgian, which is based on Palladian, a classical revival style of the renaissance. But the Graeco-Roman modeled entries were the most liked by the Washington, Jefferson, and the committee. The committee took the symbolic nature of the Capitol seriously. For the committee, the design must symbolize the functions and themes of the capitol.”

For more of the plans and drawings presented in the Library of Congress online exhibits see: ( http://community-2.webtv.net/westernmind/WASHINGTONDC/ )

 

 

"The Coming of the White Man" ~ MacNeil posed Black Pipe, the Sioux Warrior in Buffalo Bill's Wild West Show that he befriended after the 1893 Chicago Fair. (Antique Postcard courtesy of Gil Shell)

The 1904 Louisiana Purchase Exposition ~ St. Louis World’s Fair, commemorated the 100th Anniversary of the Louisiana Purchase.

At the 1270 acre Forest Park location and the campus of Washington University the Fair was constructed and the Olympic Games were held.

“Fifteen major exhibition Palaces radiated in fan pattern from central Festival Hall in “setting of lagoons, boulevards, gardens, fountains and sculpture” (1,200 pieces of statuary). Electric light, sign of progress then, used “lavishly” for both decoration and illumination. Featured were motor car, aeronautics and wireless telegraphy–all at their earliest, most exciting stage of development; spotlight on auto which had traveled from New York City to St. Louis, then “an unprece­dented feat and a hazardous journey.” Olympic Games held during Exposition in first concrete stadium built in U.S.”

(http://www.so-calleddollars.com/Events/Louisiana_Purchase_Exposition.html)

For the event, MacNeil exhibited three sculptures: “The Moqui Runner,” “A Primitive Chant,” “The Coming of the White Man” (pictured here from period postcard showing the Portland, Oregon setting.)

On a prominent hill of the Forest Park location, Cass Gilbert designed and build the Palace of Fine Arts.  This one permanent building remains 106 years later as the home of the Saint Louis Art Museum (SLAM).

It also became one of many collaborations of Gilbert and MacNeil over the next 30 year.  The most famous of these would be the last in 1932 – the U.S. Supreme Court Building in Washington, D.C.

Gilbert designed the front entrance of this Palace of Fine Arts to bear six Corinthian columns.  The four central columns frame the three MacNeil reliefs sculptures above the three entrance doors.   Inscribed on his center panel are the words “ARS ARTIUM OMNIUM “roughly meaning, “The art of all arts.”

That panel is pictured here.

"ARS ARTIUM OMNIUM" is a MacNeil creation for the 1904 St Louis Worlds Fair

 

This link below on the SLAM website also offers more detail images of all three panels and the building entrance:

Fine Arts by Macneil in Relief on the SLAM website:

The MacNeil work was a part of that “Palace of Fine Art” and his abilities in the Beaux Arts style seemed to seal his collaborative link to many projects grown from Cass Gilbert’s genius.  The inscription “ARS ARTIUM OMNIUM” translates literally from the Latin as “the Art of all Arts.”

Above the columns of the Saint Louis Art Museum are inscribed the words, “DEDICATED TO ART AND FREE TO ALL – MDCDIII.”  That Free to All spirit remains today in that admission is free through a subsidy from the ZMD.

A New York Times article offers editorial on “free art” http://www.nytimes.com/2006/07/22/arts/design/22admi.html?_r=1

Other works completed by MacNeil for the fair were the “Fountain of Liberty” and the massive sculpture “Physical Liberty.” The artist rendition below shows both.  “Physical Liberty” is the large Buffalo sculpture on the right.  A young woman on the other side accompanies the powerful beast.  Detail photos of the fountain are difficult to attain.  Hopefully, more to Come!

In the meanwhile, Enjoy!

 

Artists View of the Louisiana Purchase Exposition ~ Looking north from the Cascades. The Buffalo figure on the right is MacNeil's "Physical liberty." The Dolphins that stair-step down th the cascades are also MacNeil creations.

The MacNeil sculptures above the main entrance of the Saint Louis Art Museum is a fine example of the Beaux Arts style of World Fairs of this era. (Credit SLAM at http://www.slam.org/).

The MacNeil sculpture above the main entrance of the Saint Louis Art Museum is a fine example of the Beaux Arts style of World Fairs of this era. (http://www.slam.org/).

The Eighteenth, Nineteenth and Twentieth centuries were filled with hundreds of World’s Fairs.  Hermon Atkins MacNeil began his career as a sculptor in the 1890s. He worked on five of these events that were in the U.S. between 1901 and 1915.  He helped design buildings, outdoor art, plazas, exhibits, and entered sculptures in many of these expositions.

MacNeil’s works were entered in the Pan-American Exposition in Buffalo (1901); the Charleston Exposition in South Carolina (1902); the Louisiana Purchase Exposition in St. Louis (1904); [MacNeil Sculpture “Meets Me in St. Louis” (7.3) On a recent trip to Saint Louis, Missouri to visit...] the Lewis and Clark Exposition in Portland, Oregon (1905); and the Pan-Pacific Exposition in San Francisco in (1915)

In future postings we will gather information on these events and MacNeil’s involvement in expos that became extravaganzas of art and sculptures.  So more on Chicago, Buffalo, Charleston, Saint Louis, Portland, and San Francisco fairs.  Most of the fairs that MacNeil worked on were built in the peak era of the Beaux Arts style of architecture and sculpture in the U.S.  He was part of a the American Renaissance from 1890 to 1920, the last phase of Neoclassicism in United States. (See also Beaux Arts link above).

Below is a Wikipedia list of World Fairs from 1700 to the present.  Modern Expos tend to be held in outside of the USA in nations with developing economies and growing world trade.

List of World’s Fairs: Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_world%27s_fairs#1890s

Stay tuned!

Photo Credit: http://www.slam.org/

webmaster

SuprCtEastPedMosesConfSolonHeader

CONFUCIUS ~ MOSES ~ SOLON center on MacNeil’s East Pediment

The East Pediment of the Supreme Court of the United States designed and sculpted by Hermon A. MacNeil contains the likenesses of three Lawgivers from the history of  civilization: Moses, Confucius, and Solon. According to the Office of the Curator in a public INFORMATION SHEET:

“Visitors often miss the East Pediment of the Supreme Court Building because it is located at the rear of the building. This sculptural group was designed by Hermon A. MacNeil (1866 – 1947), an artist who studied under the masters of classical architecture and design. Cass Gilbert (1867 – 1934), the building’s architect, worked closely with MacNeil from 1932 to 1934 to create the thirteen symmetrically balanced allegorical figures. MacNeil submitted the following description of his work to the Supreme Court Building Commission:”

“Law as an element of civilization was normally and naturally derived or inherited in this country from former civilizations. The “Eastern Pediment” of the Supreme Court Building suggests therefore the treatment of such fundamental laws and precepts as are derived from the East.

  • Moses, Confucius and Solon are chosen as representing three great civilizations and form the central group of this Pediment.
  • Flanking this central group – left – is the symbolical figure bearing the means of enforcing the law. On the right a group tempering justice with mercy, allegorically treated. The “Youth” is brought into both these groups to suggest the “Carrying on” of civilization through the knowledge imbibed of right and wrong.

The next two figures with shields;

  • Left – The settlement of disputes between states through enlightened judgment.
  • Right – Maritime and other large functions of the Supreme Court in protection of the United States.

The last figures:

May 16, 1932 Note regarding the East Pediment Inscription The text, in the hand of Charles Evans Hughes, reads, I rather prefer “Justice the Guardian of Liberty”

The inscription on the East Pediment - Justice the Guardian of Liberty - is one of the few decisions regarding the architecture of the building that was made directly by one of the Justices. On May 2,1932, David Lynn, the Architect of the Capitol, sent Chief Justice Charles Evans Hughes a letter with Cass Gilbert’s suggestions for the East and West Pediment inscriptions. The Chief Justice agreed with the suggested inscription for the West Pediment, Equal Justice Under Law, but did not like the one proposed for the East Pediment, Equal Justice is the Foundation of Liberty. Chief Justice Hughes sent a note (below) with a suggestion for a different inscription to Justice Willis Van Devanter, the only Justice beside Hughes and his predecessor, Chief Justice William Howard Taft, to serve on the Supreme Court Building Commission. Justice Van Devanter responded with a succinct reply: “Good (W.V.)” A few days later, the Chief Justice formally answered Lynn’s request by providing the alternate inscription, stating simply “We think that the inscription for the East Portico can be improved.”

The May 16, 1932 Note regarding the East Pediment Inscription written in the hand of Charles Evans Hughes, reads, I rather prefer “Justice the Guardian of Liberty”

The East Pediment by Hermon A. MacNeil – Office of the Curator • Supreme Court of the United States

Source: Office of the Curator, Supreme Court of the United States – Updated: 5/22/2003

For additional critical discussion on the Supreme Court Building sculptures related to Moses as a law giver see:

http://www.snopes.com/politics/religion/capital.asp

Visit the HA MacNeil‘s “Justice The Guardian of Liberty” at the East Pediment of the Supreme Court Building in Washington, D.C.

On a recent trip to Saint Louis, Missouri to visit family, I was met by not by “Louis” but by “Hermon”

For the last 106 years (since the Worlds Fair inspired the song “Meet Me in St. Louis, Louis”) a sculpture by Hermon A. MacNeil has been quietly greeting visitors at the front door of the St Louis Art Museum. The piece resides high above the center doors at the main entrance of the building.

"ARS ARTIUM OMNIUM" is a MacNeil creation for the 1904 St Louis Worlds Fair

Saint Louis Art Museum main entrance. The MacNeil sculpture rests above the center doors recessed between the center columns.

The building itself represents one of MacNeil’s first collaborations of with renowned architect, Cass Gilbert.  His last project with Cass Gilbert was the US Supreme Court Building in 1933.

The Cass Gibert Society website offers images of his lifetime of architectural achievements.

The Saint Louis World’s Fair of 1904 was formally known as the Louisiana Purchase Exposition.   It was an international exposition commemorating the Louisiana purchase of 1803.  It was delayed from a planned opening in 1903 to 1904 to allow for the full-scale participation by more states and foreign countries. The song, “Meet Me in St. Louis, Louis” was inspired by the 1904 St. Louis Worlds Fair.

The Palace of Fine Art, designed by architect Cass Gilbert, featured a grand interior sculpture court based on the Roman Baths of Caracalla. Standing at the top of Art Hill, it now serves as the home of the Saint Louis Art Museum.  … Gilbert was also responsible for … (Saint Louis Public Library), state capitol buildings (the Minnesota, Arkansas and West Virginia State Capitols, for example) as well as public architectural icons like the United States Supreme Court building. His public buildings in the Beaux Arts style reflect the optimistic American sense that the nation was heir to Greek democracy, (Wikipedia).

The MacNeil work was a part of that “Palace of Fine Art” and his abilities in the Beaux Arts style seemed to seal his collaborative link to many projects grown from Cass Gilbert’s genius.  The inscription “ARS ARTIUM OMNIUM” translates literally from the Latin as “the Art of all Arts.”

Above the columns of the Saint Louis Art Museum are inscribed the words, “DEDICATED TO ART AND FREE TO ALL – MDCDIII.”  That Free to All spirit remains today in that admission is free through a subsidy from the ZMD.

A New York Times article offers editorial on “free art” http://www.nytimes.com/2006/07/22/arts/design/22admi.html?_r=1

The SLAM is one of the principal U.S. art museums, visited by up to a half million people every year.  MacNeil’s art is among some of the first to silently greet them.

The Art Museum at Forest Park in Saint. Louis, Missouri at night. on 27 September 2008. (credit: Kitz000 - Matt Kitces at Wikipedia Commons ) http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:StLouisArtMuseum.jpg

WHAT YOU FIND HERE.

Nearby or far away, there is no ONE place to go and appreciate this wide range of art pieces. Located in cities from east to west coast, found indoors and out, public and hidden, these creations point us toward the history and values in which our lives as Americans have taken root.

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Perhaps you walk or drive by one of MacNeil's many sculptures daily. Here you can gain awareness of this artist and his works.

For over one hundred years his sculptures have graced our parks, boulevards, and parkways; buildings, memorials, and gardens; campuses, capitols, and civic centers; museums, coinage, and private collections.

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