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

~ This Gallery celebrates Hermon Atkins MacNeil,  of the Beaux Arts School American classic sculptor of Native images and American history.  ~ World’s Fairs, statues, monuments, coins, and more… ~ Hot-links ( lower right) lead to works by Hermon A. MacNeil.   ~ Over 200 of stories & 2,000 photos form this virtual MacNeil Gallery stretching east to west  New York to New Mexico ~ Oregon to S. Carolina.   ~ 2021 marks the 155th Anniversary of Hermon MacNeil’s birth. ~~Do you WALK or DRIVE by MacNeil sculptures DAILY!   ~~ CHECK it OUT!

DO YOU walk by MacNeil Statues and NOT KNOW IT ???

May
24

MacNeil Bust of Lincoln Stored in Vault

By

Hermon Atkins MacNeil would probably be amused to know that his bronze sculpture bust of Lincoln which sold for $450 to the University of Illinois, now rests in their walk-in vault.  They do not fear theft, though to be honest, ‘Abe’ did himself go out for a brief walk in 1979 when the bust mysteriously disappeared.   At that time, a note sent to the Daily Illini read, in part, “Gone out for a breath of fresh air. I’ll be back by the end of the week.”

Thanks to public vigilance, the bust was sighted and recovered from a tree stump at the former University golf course on Florida Avenue.  (Some believe that to be the first documented incident of Mr. Lincoln strolling to a golf course which is now a much more commonly accepted behavior for Presidents).

Unlike the 1979 prankster incident, the present hijacking of Mr Lincoln seeks to insure his safekeeping as an art object during the $65 million-dollar restoration project of Lincoln Hall to be completed in 2012.  For the most part, the 125-pound bronze sculpture does not normally move under its own power and tends to stay in one place.   That place, a prominent perch recessed between the twin spiral staircases, graces the marbled east foyer entrance of historic Lincoln Hall.

Dave Evensen, of the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences “News” states:

Historic Lincoln Hall is home to a MacNeil bust of Abe Lincoln

The bronze bust is one of eight created in 1915 by sculptor Hermon Atkins MacNeil.  According to John Hoffman, curator of the Illinois History and Lincoln Collections at the University, MacNeil modeled them off a statue he created for a contest in Springfield, Ill. … Details on the whereabouts of the other busts are scarce. According to the Smithsonian Art Inventories Catalog, three others are located at the University of Pennsylvania Law School, Beloit College Wright Museum of Art, and Amherst College Mead Art Museum. Otherwise, the locations of the others are unknown—although they have not necessarily vanished. The Smithsonian, for example, does not list Lincoln Hall as the location for one of the busts.”

James Spese, U of I’s Facilities & Service project manager for Lincoln Hall, (unlike the 1979 pranksters) publicly admits that he had the bust moved in 2009 to protect it from damage during the roughly $65 million restoration project.  (Thank You, James.  Uncle Hermon would have approve!) It will be returned to its proper spot when the work is complete in 2012.  The renovations will include reestablishing the original lighting that spotlighted the bust.  The MacNeil creation, a longtime favorite of students, has its bronze nose polished from many years of good-luck pats from students as they pass by.

The original selection of the MacNeil work to be showcased in Lincoln dates back to Lorado Taft, who recommended it to the University over a copy of the Gutzon Borglum sculpture in the US Capitol rotunda.  Taft commented that central in MacNeil’s work is “a dependable sanity most gratifying to meet amid the eccentricities and vagaries of curent endeavor.”

MacNeil's 1915 "Lincoln" in Lincoln Hall

Muriel Scheinman in her Guide to Art at University of Illinios (pp. 42) describes the work as follows: “Lincoln’s expression is contemplative in this gentle, very appealing sculpture.  An air of intimacy as well as tension is created by the tightly folded arms, which rest on a simple rectangular plinth, while the hand clutching a document suggests something of a troubled inner conflict.”

Thank you University of Illinois for the preservation of Lincoln Hall and this sculpture of our favorite artist, Herman Atkins MacNeil.

D. Neil Leininger, webmaster


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WHAT YOU FIND HERE.

Here is ONE place to go to see sculpture of Hermon A. MacNeil & his students. Located in cities from east to west coast, found indoors and out, public and private, these creations point us toward the history and values that root Americans.

Daniel Neil Leininger ~ HAMacNeil@gmail.com
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