Archive for May, 2011
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.)
The following article (by our Webmaster) was accepted for posting on the THE HISTORICAL MARKER DATABASE added to the existing story there.
3. H. A. MacNeil Sculpted the McKinley Monument in Columbus Ohio.
Hermon Atkins MacNeil (1866-1947) sculpted this monument consisting of the statue of President McKinley and the two accompanying grouping of figures on either side. These extra figures seek to represent the values that McKinley lived out and for which grieving citizens chose to remember him.
Industry & Trade are symbolized by the first group. The man of great strength instructs the youthful student beside him. Here the artist seeks to depict strength and wisdom being passed on to the next generation. The other figures, a gracious woman ( “Prosperity” ) with her arm encircling a little maiden ( “Peace” ) are meant by MacNeil to symbolize those ideals as well as the joy and virtues of domestic life. These female figures are placing the palm leaves and flowers of peace over the sword and helmet of war.
MacNeil commented twenty years after completing this monument that while he worked very hard on sculpting the portrait of the President, he could follow his fancy in making the other figures. They only needed to convey the values and ideals consistent with McKinley and the Monument’s purpose there on the Capitol Plaza. MacNeil considered them all some of his finest works. Note To Editor only visible by Contributor and editor
Judge Thomas Burke Monument
Seattle, Washington ~ Volunteer Park
Hermon A. MacNeil sculpted this bronze bas-relief in 1929. He fashioned accompanying allegorical figures of Justice and an American Indian on either side. C. F. Gould, architect, designed the pedestal-bench-plaza. Dedicated in 1930, the monument honors pioneer Judge Thomas Burke (1849-1925) – “patriot, jurist, orator, friend, patron of education”, promoter of Pacific Rim harmony and trade; instrumental in bringing transcontinental railroad to Seattle. Cost: 50,000; memorial contributed by admirers of Judge Burke.
We have recently learned that a large group of MacNeil statues (7) rest on the Gothic sculpture niches of the Connecticut State Capitol in Hartford, Connecticut.The carvings represent important persons and events in American and Connecticut history. Here are two examples of these works commissioned in the 1930’s:
<= General Alfred Howe Terry statue.
Location: Connecticut State Capitol, south elevation.
Artist: Hermon MacNeil.
General Alfred Howe Terry (1827-1890) was born in Hartford Connecticut. He was one of 15 officers to receive the “Thanks of Congress” for his part in capturing Fort Fisher, North Carolina during the Civil War (1865)∗ The Union Army’s capture of this Fort ended the Confederate’s ability to use Wilmington, North Carolina as a shipping port, and was therefore a significant victory. Terry later led U.S. troops against the Plains Indians, and was in command of the expedition against the Sioux when Colonel George A. Custer was killed at the Battle of Little Big Horn (June 1876). He retired from the Army due to illness in 1888, and died two years later.
The statue was commissioned under the supervision of the state Commission on Sculpture and was installed about 1934. A cleaning and restoration project of the exterior of the capitol, including the Welles statue, was completed in 1985. The artist, Hermon MacNeil, is best known for his design for the Liberty quarter dollar (1916). His naturalistic style, with high modeling and surface texture, reflects his Parisian training at L’Ecole des Beaux-Arts. His works are included in public collections such as the Metropolitan Museum of Art. [∗ Boman, John (Ed.), 2001. Cambridge Dictionary of American Biography. Accessed March 23, 2009 via iConn at http://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&db=khh&AN=24F18006Terry&site=ehost-live. ] [ Information provided by Hartford History Center at Hartford Public Library HARTFORD, CONNECTICUT WAR MEMORIALS ]
<= Major General John Sedgwick statue
Location: Connecticut State Capitol, south elevation.
Artist: Hermon MacNeil
Continuing the Civil War Era theme of the south elevation, the statue of Major General John Sedgwick occupies a niche alongside the statues of Gideon Welles and General Alfred Howe Terry.
General John Sedgwick (1813-1864) was born in Cornwall, Connecticut. His grandfather served with George Washington in the Revolutionary War. Sedgwick served with distinction in the Mexican-American War, and was promoted to Major General during the Civil War (July, 1862). He was killed when shot by Confederate sharpshooters at the Battle of Spotsylvania Court House May 9, 1864, during his command of the VI Corps of the Army of the Potomac.
[ Information provided by Hartford History Center at Hartford Public Library HARTFORD, CONNECTICUT WAR MEMORIALS ]
Images of these works will be posted at a later date.
Second MacNeil Postcard
we have selected a re-run of this very old
color rendered photograph of the
“Coming of the White Man.”
Photo file courtesy of Gil Shell
This monument in Portland has a twin on the east coast in NYC that is in the Poppenhusen Institute in College Point, Queens, NYC.
This second statue is just down the street from Hermon A. MacNeil Park and the site of his old home and studio in Queens. The sculpture was donated by Mr. MacNeil to this Cultural Center in his community. It occupies an honored place in the stage-right corner of the auditorium.
See that twin photo here