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

Since 2010 this website has transported viewers through the years and miles between 100’s of Hermon MacNeil’s statues & monuments throughout the USA.

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

PERHAPS,  you walk or drive by one of his public sculptures daily. HERE, you can gain awareness of this great sculptor and his many works.  Maybe there are some near you! CHECK HERE!

Archive for February, 2011

~ MacNeil Month #4 ~

Last night. the new FOX cop drama “Chicago Code” showed Hermon A. MacNeil’s art in the Chicago loop.

MacNeils bronze panels above the Marquette’s four doors were prominent in the pilot episode of “Chicago Code” on FOX last night.

A scene featured the front of  the Marquette Building at 140 S. Dearborn Street. The building with it’ s four MacNeil Bronze panels (above the doors in the photo at right) was used as an evacuated office building.  Detective Jarek Wysocki (Jason Clarke) and his partner, Caleb Evers (Matt Lauria), create a fire-alarm-diversion-tactic to clear the office.  Office workers evacuated and stood on the side walk with the sculptures visible behind them.

FOX showed great shots of Chicago throughout the new series pilot, but the Marquette Building was our personal favorite.  We will keep searching for a still photo from that scene in this new fast action drama. For the link to the entire episode, see below.

Stay tuned to FOX and this website for more action (and possibly more MacNeil sculpture scenes — we are 1 for 1 so far this season). For video of news review from  Chicago check out MYFOXChicago.com.

For more info on Macneil’s 1895 sculptures on the Marquette Building check out this posting: https://hermonatkinsmacneil.com/2010/06/

The “Chicago Code” Pilot episode can be viewed at the link below. The Marquette Building scene starts at 17:54.  The  MacNeil panels are visible only for 6 seconds, but the scene outside the building continues for  almost a minute to 18:50.  No still photos have been found of this segment of the show. MacNeil Bronze relief panels on Marquette Building.

From the website archieves here's a less crowded group photo (6-12-10) of the MacNeil's bronze relief sculptures on the Marquette Building. The group includes the webmaster and family members examining and documenting the art.

MacNeil Month #3 ~

During his teaching at Cornell, MacNeil saved his money to seek continued art education.  He followed the path of many an artist of his day and left for Europe in 1888.  Settling in Paris, that focus of ambitious art students, he was a pupil of Henri M. Chapu at the Julien Academy. According to Matthews:

Julien’s was actually not one, but numerous schools located in various parts of Paris, all under the dictatorship of Monsieur Julien, a former prizefighter from a small village in the south of France who after studying at the Beaux Arts and enjoying a “succes de scandale” along with Manet and Whistler in 1863 at the Salon des Refus’es, had found his forte in business, first as a promoter of wrestling matches, then, as the novelty of these wore off, as a operator of a studio for artists, which he founded in 1868.”

(Marsha M. Mathews, Henry Ossawa Tanner, American Artist, . Of Chicago Press, 1969, p 62.)

He studied as well with  Alexandre Falguiere at the cole des Beaux Arts.

Palais des Études of the École Nationale Superieur des Beaux-Arts, Paris

This was a two-year period full of inspiration and high hopes, and was only terminated by the depletion of the pennies saved up at Cornell. His return to this country was in the fortunate year of 1893, when the Columbian Exposition at Chicago had created a boom in the art world. MacNeil did not want to go back to teaching in Cornell, so went instead to the Western metropolis. He fell in with Martiny, and helped him with his decorations for various Exposition buildings. (Joseph Walker McSpadden, Famous Sculptors of America, New York, 1924. p. 310)

Henry Ossawa Tanner shared a studio with Hermon MacNeil in Paris in 1893 as they both studied at Julien Academy

Regarding the Paris period, Marsha Mathews, in her autobiography of Henry Ossawa Mathews mentions that Mathews shared studio space at rue de Seine with Hermon A. MacNeil.  Apparently this occurred in the spring of 1893.

Henry Ossawa Mathews was an American painter regarded as a realist focusing on accurate depictions of subjects. His early work, “The Banjo Lesson,” dates from that period of 1893. His later works focused on religious and biblical themes.  Both men were involved with the Columbian Exposition and the Art Institute of Chicago in the years that followed.  Mathews, as a painter, and MacNeil, as a sculptor, were to have no apparent colaboration after that period in Paris.

Upon graduation from Massachusetts Normal Art School, MacNeil’s work was recognized with the award ‘first prize’ in his graduating class.   This honor attracted the attention of Cornell University in Ithaca, New York.  They invited him to teach as Instructor of Industrial Art. His discipline there was sometimes described as ‘modeling’ – meaning sculpturing from live models.

Hermon Macneil's 'green likeness' of Ezra Cornel is what most Cornell students visualize ads "Dear Uncle Ezra".

For three years (1886-89), he taught on the faculty.  It seems a formative time.  He saved his money, followed his dreams,  and resigned in 1889 to travel to Europe studying art in Paris.  The Cornell University, wanting to stay connected to this promising young sculptor, told him they would hold his faculty position for him.

Upon returning to the USA, MacNeil decided to settle in Chicago, instead.  The reason was that the Chicago Worlds Fair was generating commissions for Sculpture as part of this ‘modern’ extravaganza.

Yet despite Hermon MacNeil’s decision to not return to Cornell University, the ties and the mutual affection, have remained over the years as evidenced in the following:.

  • In 1893, he  was commissioned to sculpt a bust of the first dean of the Law School Judge Douglas Boardman .  The work remains in Myron Taylor Hall, inside of the Rare Book Room (as seen in the above link).
  • In 1930 he was asked to make a sculpture of Ezra Cornell, the founder of the school to grace the campus.  A moving account of his experience of this sculpture will be posted later on this website.
  • Later, toward the end of his life, he chose to archive his personal papers in the library at Cornell where they remain the largest repository of his records and correspondence, to this day.  See MacNeil Personal Papers

MacNeil’s fingerprints remain on Cornell University to this day.

The upcoming post, MacNeil Month #3, will feature “Studies in Paris.”

In his 1924 interview, McSpadden suggests that an artistic strain ran through MacNeil’s family.  “His uncle, Henry Mitchell, was a steel-engraver and gem-cutter, and was versed in heraldry.”

He quotes Hermon,

“My mother painted … but it was the usual copy work of the good old days, when every girl was expected to have an accomplishment, and most of them did samplers.  She evidently liked her painting, as I still have one of her pictures.” (p. 309)

MacNeil’s own skills and art interests seemed to have developed early on.  He explained to McSpadden:

How did I come to take up art? I fell into it naturally. I remember that as a boy in my teens, attending the public schools, I looked forward eagerly to Friday afternoon; for then it was that we had our one art class each week. It wasn’t much to boast of — just some cubes and such like inanimate objects for pencil drawings on paper, but I thought it was great.” (p. 309)

He told of a “trivial little incident” when the teacher left the room.  Upon his return, most of the class was “skylarking” (frolicking, playing, boisterously).   Displeased, the teacher admonished the class.  Then he walked the aisle looking at drawings.  Singling out several students, including Hermon, he said,

‘Now if you would turn out good work like this and this‘ —  and yes, yours too’ (to Hermon). As MacNeil shared this account some 40 years after the incident, he told McSpadden, “I had only been included in a general commendation, but that little remark has stuck with me to this day.” (p. 309-10)

At Hermon’s urgent request, his parents sent him to State Normal Arts School in 1886.  In that year, the new Massachusetts Normal Art School building was constructed at the corner of Newbury and Exeter Streets (See map in Jan 27th posting below).

MassArt - present day Massachusetts College of Art and Design was established in 1873 as Boston Normal Art School.

“I told my parents it was what I wanted to do above everything else.” It was a stiff four-years’ course, where everything was taught in the line of art — painting draftsmanship, drawing for mathematical and engineering subjects, architecture and sculpture, — and MacNeil took them all.  it was not until the last year that he reached sculpture, and by that time he had determined that this was what he wanted to make his life-work.  “I went through the whole gamut, and the further I went the more it laid hold of me,” he avers. (p. 310)

Source:  Joseph Walker, Famous Sculptors of America, pp. 307-326.

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
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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