Archive for Gib Shell
This B&W studio photo of Hermon MacNeil’s “World War I Monument ” in Flushing, NY was sent to the website by John Gomez. John rescued the original photo from a file of papers in a Manhattan Flea Market. The photo appears to be 87 years old.
Here is his story from yesterday:
“I wanted to inform you that I discovered about ten articles/photos of MacNeil’s work in the far rear section of a flea market on 25th Street in the Flatiron District of Manhattan. This was yesterday. I was stunned to find them in a heap of junk. … [They] seemed to have come out of a historian’s binder. Some items are news articles and some are archival photos. “
~ John Gomez ~ Historic Preservation Network
Here is John’s recent blog post on his Historic Preservation Network about this MacNeil flea-market discovery. He has given permission to link it here CLICK HERE.
John also comments: “It is gratifying to learn that MacNeil descendants are preserving his legacy.”
Thank you John for your email and photo.
Below are some recent photos of the WWI Monument in Flushing, NY courtesy of Gibson Shell of KC, MO.
CONTACT INFORMATION FOR HISTORIC PRESERVATION NEWWORK:
John Gomez, M.S. Historic Preservation, Columbia University; Historic Preservation Network; Post Office Box 20084; London Terrace Statio; New York, NY 1001; hpnetwork.org > firstname.lastname@example.org ; 201.888.9543
Happy 2012 from the Friends of Hermon Atkins MacNeil!
On Christmas Eve Day I had the pleasure of having breakfast in Kansas City, Missouri with Mr. Gibson Shell, one of Hermon’s biggest fans.
No stranger to HermonAtkinsMacNeil.com “Gib’s” photos and postcards have graced our pages for the last year.
Neither is he a stranger to those of you who frequent Coins Shows in the KC MO region and beyond.
Gib is an avid photographer and collector of Beaux Arts images (photos, postcards, souvenirs). Gib has documented what he calls ‘MacNeil’s French Connection,’ namely, the works of Chapu and Falguière, MacNeil’s teachers in Paris. Gib has gathered Sculptor Studies in MORE than a dozen Notebooks.
I enjoyed my tour through his Hermon MacNeil Notebook he is holding in this photo. MacNeil studied at the Ecole des Beaux-Arts and at the Julien Academy as a pupil of Henri M. Chapu and Alexandre Falguière. Gib has an extensive collection of French postcards of their sculptures that MacNeil would have known and been influenced by.
I also was able to enjoy his Notebook of Daniel Chester French’s sculptures. (French’s “Minuteman” statue at Concord elevated him into public prominence in 1875 at the tender age of 25. His seated ‘Lincoln’ in the Lincoln Monument is his most famous work. French was on the Roman Rinehart Committee that awarded to Hermon MacNeil the first Rinehart scholarship in 1895. He also worked with MacNeil on the Columbian Exposition of 1893 in Chicago. See Gib’s photos below of D. C. French’s “Republic” statue from the Fair ).
Next time I can see some of Gib’s other notebooks on Beaux Arts sculptors. I wanted you to see this “friend of Hermon Atkins MacNeil and HermonAtkinsMacNeil.com”
Thanks Gib for being a contributor! He sent this photo of Daniel Chester French’s “Republic” to herald in 2012. So once more:
We discovered that Gib lives 6 blocks from where my “Aunt Jane” McNeil Boody lived in Kansas City. Jane and my mother, Ollie Frances McNeil both called Hermon MacNeil, “Uncle Hermon” all their lives.
Images of Hermon A. MacNeil’s sculpted medallion for the 1901 World’s Fair are as coveted today as they were 110 years ago. Here are three examples:
EXAMPLE #1 from 2010.
Below, a recent You Tube posting shares a trio of MacNeil’s beautiful Medals in Bronze, Silver and Gilt finishes. Thanks to Will of the American Association of Young Numismatists (AAYN) [See note #1 below], for making this video of these rare MacNeil medallions. Thanks as well, to website contributor and friend, Gibson Shell of Kansas City for his alert eye in finding this first beautiful example.
EXAMPLE #2 from 1901.
Manufacturers were so proud of winning the Gold Medal at the Pan American Exhibition that they displayed it prominently on their advertisements. Here in the ad below, the Mellin Food Company of Boston, a maker of ‘baby formula’, touts their wares with the MacNeil image at center stage of their ad. “Baby formula’ was a radically new idea in 1901. Their product had to compete with mother’s breast milk, an already accepted product with a much longer history. The Gold Medal from the Pan American Exposition gave their new product a greater recognition for quality and acceptance.
EXAMPLE #3 from 1901.
Here is another Gold Medal winner. F. R. Pierson a horticulturist operating a nursery and greenhouse at Tarrytown-on-Hudson, N.Y., won Eight Gold Medals at the 1901 Buffalo World’s Fair. His advertisement states that this is, “the largest number awarded any firm on the Flori-culture Department.” The ad enumerates the company’s prize-winning selections of Rhododendrons, evergreens, roses, cannas, bay trees, fig-leaf palms and hydrangeas. AND of course it bears MacNeil’s Pan American Exposition Medallion prominently at the top corners of the advertisement. [CLICK ON IMAGE TO ENLARGE]
These MacNeil sculpture medals were made by the Gorham Manufacturing Company of Boston, a quality producer of fine silver since 1832.
CLOSE UP VIEWS.
Pictured below are near-life-size images of Hermon A. MacNeil’s sculpture design for the Award Medals at the Pan American Exposition, held at Buffalo, NY in 1901. All award medals were struck from the same design whether in Bronze, Silver or Gold. These below are silver medals.
“PHYSICAL LIBERTY” 1904.
The buffalo image on the Obverse face of this medallion bears a resemblance to a MacNeil work he made three years later. That larger-than-life sculpture at the 1904 World’s Fair in Saint Louis, Missouri was known as “Physical Liberty” (see below). It stood at the top of the Cascade at that Exposition celebrating the 100th anniversary of the Louisiana Purchase. Ironically, MacNeil’s allegorical figure used Native American images to symbolize the vitality of American expansion westward.
A near arrogant sense of Manifest Destiny often accompanied such 19th Century concepts of American pride. An inescapable irony today, in our own 21st Century, is that MacNeil and many of his contemporary sculptors placed such Native American images at the center stage of these World Fairs. MacNeil’s embrace of Native American themes in his sculpting from 1895-1905 still offers us lessons in culture, anthropology and life values more than a century later.
2.) William Wroth’s “Long Walk” to Bosque Redondo also provides poignant insight into this period of the United States management of Native American peoples and the life of Chief Manuelito who was part of that “Long Walk” and signed the treaty of 1868 that sought to restore Navajo lands after the disastrous interventions of the US government.
3.) “The Long Walk” A Ten (10) Part video story of the Navajo “Fearing Time” accounting atrocities against the Navajo people from 1863 to 1868. Researched and produced with support of the George S. and Delores Dore’ Eccles Foundation and the Pacific Mountain Network. Part 1; Part 2; Part 3; Part 4; Part 5; Part 6; Part 7; Part 8; Part 9; Part 10.
4.) “The Long Walk” For a Navajo perspective view this video by Nanebah, whose great-great grandmother survived “The Long Walk”.
5.) “300 Miles – Or Long Walk Of The Navajo – Richard Stepp” For a musical tribute with an ‘American Indian Movement’ perspective.
6.) Leslie Linthicum, staff writer for the Albuquerque Journal, gives a delightful article, “Navajo Leader Stands Tall”. It offers historical irony from our 21st Century on attitudes toward Native American culture through her story of the ‘management’ and ‘preservation’ of MacNeil’s iconic statue of Chief Manuelito.
The American Association of Young Numismatists (AAYN) is an association dedicated to educating and impassioning young people about the hobby of coin collecting. We hope our videos help spark your interest in numismatics.
Trio of 1901 Pan American Exposition Medals: Bronze, Gilt and Silver This video discusses a trio of beautiful 1901 Pan American Exposition medals, manufactued by Gorham Co. You will find over 75 videos the AAYN Video Library on You Tube.
- 1901 Pan-American Exposition – Buffalo, New York ~~ “The Rainbow City” (10.3)
- MacNeil Sculpture “Meets Me in St. Louis” (20)
- Expositions and World’s Fairs ~ Hermon A. MacNeil (15.6)
- MacNeil at the 1893 Columbian Exposition ~ ~ ~ THE CHICAGO YEARS ~ ~ (10.8)
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.]
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.
The size of this piece (72-74 measured variously) is the same of those in major museum collections. Several links on this website (see below and also “MUSEUMS: with MacNeil Art” section in lower right) connect to these “Sun Vows.” Possibly a dozen of these exist, publicly and privately.
Numerous smaller casts (about 36″) and even miniatures authorized by MacNeil himself were cast up until the 1920s. These also are highly desirable and found in many museums.
Buffalo Bill Historical Center – Cody WY (Sun Vow)
Orlando Museum of Art, Orlando FL
Chrysler Museum of Art – Norfolk, VA
Herman Atkins MacNeil often placed “Sc” behind his signature on sculptures (as seen above, and in other photos on his signature on this website.
According to McSpadden, an article on MacNeil in the Craftsman stated,
“In The Moqui Runner, The Primitive Chant, The Sun Vow, The Coming of the White Man, and many others of his Indian statues, MacNeil always gives you the feeling of the Indian himself, of his attitude toward his own culture of the Sun Vow that MacNeil has memorialized, are a compounded and profound statement of the power of art and artists. vanishing tribes, and his point of view toward the white race which has absorbed his country. It is never the Indian of Buffalo Bill’s Wild West, trapped out for curiosity seekers, but the grave, sad, childlike man of the plains, faithful to his own tribe, once loyal to us, though now resentful; and always a thinker, a poet, and a philosopher.” (McSpadden lists the following source: “The Art of MacNeil,” Craftsman. September 1909).
( See also: Florence Finch Kelly, “American Bronzes at the Metropolitan Museum: An Important Collection in Process of Formation.” Craftsman, 1907: Volume XI, February 1907, Number 5, pp 545-559.)
Dr. Andrew Walker, an associate curator at the St. Louis Art Museum, has written a chapter in “Shaping the West.” MacNeil’s ‘Sun Vow’ was chosen for the cover photo of that publication by the Denver Art Museum. Walker’s essay there is entitled: “Hermon Atkins MacNeil and the 1904 World’s Fair: A Monumental Program for the American West.” Walker has written and presented extensively on MacNeil.
While highlighting the work of Hermon Atkins MacNeil, Dr. Walker illustrates how the 1904 World’s Fair included a monumental sculpture initiative. He does this with narrative and photo description of the major sculptures that formed the grounds, fountains, waterfalls and buildings of the 1904 Louisiana Purchase Exposition in Saint Louis. The current St. Louis Art Museum (where Walker is a curator) was the “Palace of Fine Arts” conceived by Cass Gilbert, architect of the fair grounds (and later the US Supreme Court Building). Over a century later, Mac Neil’s three sculpture relief panels still look down from their vantage point above the three sets of doors at the main entrance.
The more I study this sculpture (as other MacNeil pieces?) the more new details I find in MacNeil’s creations.
The photo at right shows MacNeil’s Sun Vow with Daniel Chester French’s “Angel of Death” in the background. French and MacNeil were colleagues and collaborators. The Angel of Death has grasped the hand of the sculptor. See more of this DCF piece HERE.
Webmaster’s Comment: The beauty and ‘irony’ of the two sculptures together, long after the death of the two sculptors and the vanishing of the culture of the Sun Vow that MacNeil has memorialized, are a compounded and profound statement of the power of art and artists.
SHAPING THE WEST : American Sculptors of the 19th Century. With additional essays by Alice Levi Duncan, Thayer. Tolles, Peter Hassrick, Sarah E. Boehme, and Andrew Walker.
- Florence Finch Kelly, “American Bronzes at the Metropolitan Museum: An Important Collection in Process of Formation.” Craftsman, 1907: Volume XI, February 1907, Number 5, pp 545-559.)