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

~ This Gallery celebrates Hermon Atkins MacNeil, American sculptor of the Beaux Arts School. MacNeil led a generation of sculptors in capturing many fading Native American images and American history in the realism of this classic style.

~ World’s Fairs, statues, public monuments, coins, and buildings across to country. Hot-links (on the lower right) lead to photos & info of works by MacNeil.

~ Hundreds of stories and photos posted here form this virtual MacNeil Gallery of works all across the U.S.A.  New York to New Mexico — Oregon to South Carolina.

~ 2016 marked the 150th Anniversary of Hermon MacNeil’s birth on February 27,

Take a Virtual Journey

This website seeks to transport you through miles and years with a few quick clicks of a mouse or keyboard or finger swipes on an iPad.

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.

Maybe there are some near you!

Feb
19

“Honest Abe” On Public Display ~ MacNeil Month #7

By

At the University of Illinois, Abraham Lincoln has been released from the vault.  He is out for public view.

A Nose Waiting to Be Rubbed « 2011 « Articles « LASNews Magazine ... Herman Atkins MacNeil modeled the bust in 1928 from a full-size statue he had made 14 years earlier. He gave the bronze bust a brown patina, which had worn ... www.las.uiuc.edu/alumni/magazine/articles/2011/bust/

No, this is not a student prank (like the 1979 Illini Incident) when the MacNeil’s Lincoln Statue disappeared. This time its actually a year-long Lincoln party.

Starting at noon on Sunday February 20th, the refurbished Lincoln bust by Hermon A. MacNeil will be on public exhibit in the Spurlock Museum at U of I.

In a recent email Dr. Wayne T. Pitard, Director, of Spurlock Museum, told us:

“Having had the chance to look at the bust in great detail, I am enormously impressed with MacNeil’s talent.  It is a wonderful piece, one of my favorite depictions of Lincoln.  I wanted to let you know that during its exhibition at the Spurlock between February 20 and January of next year, people will have the only chance in our lifetimes to actually walk all the way around the bust, to see it from all angles.  Once it goes back into its niche in Lincoln Hall, the back will no longer be accessible.  If you ever are in the neighborhood, you should try to come by and see it here.”

MacNeil’s Lincoln has graced the Lincoln Hall stair case since 1928.  It was removed for safekeeping in a vault when construction began on a total restoration of Lincoln Hall.  The empty niche that the statue normally occupies is visible in this video of the Lincoln Hall Kick Off Ceremony (the miniature bust of Lincoln seen here is NOT one of the MacNeil sculpture, but of another artist.)  For the next year it will be in Spurlock for viewing in a 360 degree venue, unlike the setting shown above before restoration. The Public can celebrate MacNeil’s Lincoln Statue at the Spurlock all year.

Holly Korab, (Senior Director in the Office of Communications and Marketing, College of Liberal Arts and Sciences) informed the webmaster this week that:

Mr. MacNeil’s statue is dear to many generations of Illini. We are working on a video for our “This Old Hall” series on the restoration of Lincoln Hall. (Holly, I hope the video has a 360 scene of the statue as it appears on display in Spurlock ~ webmaster). Do you know how Mr. MacNeil felt about our statue?

Gutzon Borglum's famous Lincoln also has a shiny nose from public petting of the piece in Springfield, Illinois.

Well Holly, we do know how MacNeil’s friend and teacher, Lorado Taft, felt about the piece.  Taft was considered the ‘dean of American sculptors’ (especially in the Beaux Arts tradition).  He worked with MacNeil in the 1893 Columbian Exposition — the Chicago World’s Fair.  Carol Brooks, who was one of Taft’s students, would become Herman’s wife in 1895.  She helped Taft as one of the female sculptors known as “White Rabbits.” Through the thirty years since that Exposition, Taft knew the MacNeils and their artistic abilities.  Perhaps this influenced Taft’s choice of the Mac Neil Statue over that of Gutzon Borglum, yet he knew and worked with Borglum as well.   He just seemed to not like the overall effect of the Borglum piece. You can compare for yourself the two Lincolns (superficially, at least) from the photos provided here. More directly Taft stated:

“I regret to say that Borglum’s so called ‘Lincoln’ is my pet aversion; I would prefer not to help in this matter,”

In his book Modern Tendencies in Sculpture, Taft shares his expectation of good sculpture.  In the preface, he states:

“SCULPTURE SHOULD BE THE MOST EXCEPTIONAL OF THE ARTS. IT SHOULD EXTERNALIZE ONLY THE RAREST AND THE MOST ABSOLUTELY BEAUTIFUL MOMENTS OF LIFE, CHOOSING WITH IRREPROACHABLE DISCRIMINATION FROM THE FORMS, THE JOYS AND THE SORROWS OF HUMANITY. A SCULPTED MOMENT WHICH IS NOT ADMIRABLE IS A PERMANENT CRIME, A PERSISTENT AND INEXCUSABLE OBSESSION.” Lorado Taft, Modern Tendencies in Sculpture, University of Chicago Press: Chicago, 1921. p. 9.

Further in the book Taft, lauds MacNeil’s work on his Soldiers and Sailors Monument in Albany and the Washington Arch in NY by saying MacNeil showed:

“his good taste united with a fine decorative sense and with much fluency of handling”… Running through all these works is a dependable sanity most gratifying to meet amid the eccentricities and vagaries of current endeavor.  The sculptor has never exemplified this quality to better advantage than in his fine “Lincoln” model, a work meriting enlargement and a prominent place.” Lorado Taft, Modern Tendencies in Sculpture, University of Chicago Press: Chicago, 1921. p. 120.

In 1923, Taft, recommended MacNeil to James White, the University supervising architect, for the Lincoln Hall placement. Taft’s friend, Hermon Atkins MacNeil, created a bust of Lincoln that the University purchased for $450. http://www.lincolnhall.illinois.edu/history/lincolnhall/entrance/index.html

How did MacNeil feel about his Lincoln statue?

I can’t answer that directly, but MacNeil expressed his thoughts and feelings about the sculptor’s task in 1917.  At the annual meeting of the American Federation of Arts, MacNeil spoke of the progress of contemporary sculpture.

“Above all else, [the artist’s] work must radiate some charm or strength of human character that touches the passer by.”

Errant Bronzes: George Grey Barnard’s Statues of Abraham Lincoln (American Arts Series/University of Delaware Press Books) by Frederick C. Moffatt (2000), p. 129.

He went on to suggest that this radiated art spirit, had to be discovered in the hearts of the observers of the piece.

I know myself, from reading other accounts of MacNeil describing his Marquette, Jolliet, Illini grouping in Douglas Park Chicago, and his Ezra Cornell statue at Ithica, New York, that this art spirit radiated in MacNeil himself as he planned, prepared and sculpted these works.  His heart went into and radiated from each of his sculptures and memorials.  Studying the details he put in them, reveals that to me.  Now the public can assess that at the Spurlock.

SO, Enjoy, Celebrate, and MacNeil’s Lincoln, The Lawyer. May you anticipate the 2013 re-dedication of Lincoln Hall as your 21st Century tribute to Mr. Lincoln.

MORE LINCOLN LORE:

Lincoln/net Website: by Northern Illinois University – browse primary resource materials about our 16th President. http://lincoln.lib.niu.edu/aboutinfo.html

VISIT SPURLOCK MUSEUM – here’s a Google Map

[mappress mapid=”19″]

Leave a Reply

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.

Webmaster: Daniel Neil Leininger ~ HAMacNeil@gmail.com
Hosting & Tech Support: Leiturgia Communications, Inc.
COME BACK & WATCH US GROW

WE DESIRE YOUR DIGITAL PHOTOS – Suggestions

1. Take digital photos of the entire work from several angles, including the surroundings.
2. Take close up photos of details that capture your imagination.
3. Look for MacNeil’s signature, often on bronze works. Photograph it too! See examples above.
4. Please, include a photo of yourself and/or those with you standing beside the work.
5. Add your comments or a blog of your adventure. It adds personal interest for viewers.
6. Send photos to HAMacNeil@gmail.com Contact me there with any questions. ~~ Webmaster