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~ 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
29

Tortoise and Hare taken to Supreme Court

By

Hermon MacNeil has taken the Tortoise and the Hare to the Supreme Court.

There is a rabbit and a turtle at the Supreme Court! No this is not some legal joke.  Not an insult of the U.S. Justice system. This is a concrete truth. Actually, it is a truth in marble.  Not only did he take this ‘Fabled pair’ all the way to the Supreme Court, he left them there. So, inconspicuously for the last 78 years the whimsy of Hermon Atkins MacNeil has been hidden in plain sight, high on the back side of the highest court of the land.  These two marble carvings represent the smallest pair of groupings in his work, “Justice the Guardian of Liberty” are nearly invisible in the corners below.

HARE ON LEFT<< East Pediment-Supreme Court Building - >>TORTOISE ON RIGHT

MacNeil's 'Hare' springs from the south corner of his east pediment sculpture

MacNeil's 'Tortoise' on the north corner of sculpture

Like Aesop’s fable, perhaps the moral of MacNeil’s sculpture may be “Slow but steady wins the race.” Of course, the figurines offer MacNeil’s reference to Aesop’s Fable of the “The Hare and theTortoise.” A Hare one day ridiculed the short feet and slow pace of the Tortoise. The latter, laughing, said: “Though you be swift as the wind, I will beat you in a race.” The Hare, deeming her assertion to be simply impossible, assented to the proposal; and they agreed that the Fox should choose the course, and fix the goal. On the day appointed for the race they started together. The Tortoise never for a moment stopped, but went on with a slow but steady pace straight to the end of the course. The Hare, trusting to his native swiftness, cared little about the race, and lying down by the wayside, fell fast asleep. At last waking up, and moving as fast as he could, he saw the Tortoise had reached the goal, and was comfortably dozing after her fatigue. [George Fyler Townsend, Three Hundred Æesop’s Fables: Literally Translated from the Greek (London: George Routledge and Sons, 1867), pp. 19-20.] SeeWikipedia

Conceived in the early 1930’s after another economic crisis, MacNeil filled the sculpture with hundreds of serious allegorical references and illusions (more about these in later posts).   The figure of Confucius (to the left of the centered Moses) caused more public comment.

MacNeil worked with Cass Gilbert, the architect for the US Supreme Court Building project, who gave his artists interpretive license in designing their works.

Architect Cass Gilbert was charged by Chief Justice Taft to design “a building of dignity and importance suitable for its use as the permanent home of the Supreme Court of the United States.” (InfoPlease)

The complementary pediment on the east side of the building bears an inscription devised by Chief Justice Hughes: “Justice, the Guardian of Liberty.” In his frieze sculptor Herman A. MacNeil pays tribute to the civilizing effects of legal authority. A trio of ancient lawgivers—Moses, flanked by Confucius and Solon—occupies the center of the panel, which otherwise features allegorical figures intended to symbolize beneficent aspects of judicial dispute resolution. (Answers.com)

None of the thirteen figures on MacNeil’s east pediment grouping, however, are quite as gentle and amusing as the turtle and bunny that bracket the piece.

So, Thanks for the memories Uncle Hermon!  😉

The Supreme Court as it appeared in 1935 complete with vintage automobiles. The East Pediment was on the reverse side to these front steps. Behind MacNeil's East pediment sculptures is the office of the Chief Justice. Source: Wikipedia

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:SupremeCourt-1935.jpg

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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.

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