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 ???

Archive for July, 2011

This past Friday I stopped at Spurlock Museum on the University of Illinois campus to see the newly refurbished bust of Abraham Lincoln that will return to the renovated Lincoln Hall in 2012.

Holly Koreb, Senior Director, and Dave  Evensen, both from the Office of Communications and Marketing at U of I’s College of Liberal Arts and Sciences,  met me at the museum for a guided viewing and photos.  She sent the  photo of me and Abe added below.  That is Abe on the left.  Thanks, Holly! 

(And BTW, Hermon A. MacNeil was my 1st Cousin twice removed.  But since he considered himself my mother’s Uncle Hermon and I think he was Great, I now consider him my Great Uncle Hermon.)  Back to the Lawyer Lincoln statue …

Beautifully restored and on public display at the Spurlock Museum. “H. A. MacNeil” is the signature on the left hand side of this Lincoln Bust. “Roman Bronze Works” is the foundry mark in small letters on the left rear corner

Examining MacNeil’s creation up close was a true thrill.  The restoration is beautifully done. The  rich brown patina gives the piece a radiance that has not been seen in half a century or more.

Webmaster Dan Leininger visited the Spurlock exhibit of MacNeil’s restored Lincoln Bust last week. (Tour and Photo courtesy of Holly Koreb).

The chance to find and record the MacNeil signature and foundry markings (see below) were a rare treat that will prove impossible in the bust’s niche at Lincoln Hall.

The display panel at the Spurlock states, in part:

The bust, by Hermon A. MacNeil, depicts Lincoln as a young lawyer with his arms folded holding a legal document in his right hand.  It was based on a full figured piece that MacNeil had submitted to the Art Commission of Illinois in a 1914 competition seeking a statue for the city of Springfield.

Although the design was not chosen, MacNeil cast eight busts from the upper part of the sculpture.  In this special exhibit it is possible for the first time to view the bust outside its niche.  You can see MacNeil’s fine work from all sides before it is returned to Lincoln Hall in 2012.

Lincoln the Lawyer , as depicted in Macneil’s sculpture, is one the least known aspects of this great American, BUT probably the BEST place to appreciate his skills, character and talents as a human being.  A segment of  an article from American History Magazine tells the ‘Lawyer – Lincoln’  story in this way:

Abraham Lincoln spent only four of his 56 years as president of the United States. Yet, given the importance of the events that marked his 1861-65 term of office, the nation’s admiration for him as a man of courage and principle, and the abundance of photographic images that recorded his presidency, it is hard for most people to think of him as anything else.  But there were other facets to the career of this man who led the nation through the Civil War years. Prior to his presidency, Lincoln honed his political skills and aspirations through the practice of law. 

 “The bulk of Lincoln’s courtroom work took place away from Springfield as he traveled twice a year with the presiding judge and fellow lawyers to the county seats of Illinois’ Eighth Circuit Court. Since most of those who served on the juries in these small towns were farmers and other country folk, Lincoln–himself a product of a rural environment and by nature a slow talker–recognized the need to argue his cases in the simplest and most straightforward manner. As one observer noted, ‘his illustrations were often quaint and homely, but always clear and apt, and generally conclusive. . . . His wit and humor and inexhaustible store of anecdotes, always to the point, added immensely to his powers as a jury advocate.'”  (Abraham Lincoln: The Lawyer.  American History |  Published: June 12, 2006 at 8:02 pm.  CLICK HERE to see entire article )

History records that Abraham Lincoln traveled the Eighth Circuit of Illinois for nearly a quarter of a century. He stood and spoke to citizens in courtrooms involving over 5000 cases ranging from sensational murder cases to the less glamorous issues of property ownership. (Adapted from David Wiegers, Gurnee, Illinois in his comments on Larado Taft’s standing Lincoln statue in Urbana, Illinois )

The statue is listed, along with over 125 others, in a “List of sculptures of Abraham Lincoln” from Donald Charles Durman’s book “He Belongs to the Ages: The Statues of Abraham Lincoln” (published by Edwards Brothers, Ann Arbor, Michigan, 1951).  The Smithsonian American Art Museum inventory lists of 3 locations for some of MacNeil’s other eight Lincoln busts.  This  bust belonging to the University of Illinois is not listed among them.  They are as follows:
  1. Amherst College, Mead Art Museum, Amherst, Massachusetts 01002 Accession Number: S.1932.4
  2. University of Pennsylvania, Office of the Curator, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania – Control_Number: 77001611
  3. Beloit College, Wright Museum of Art, Beloit, Wisconsin – Control_Number: 75008855
  4. Amherst College, Mead Art Museum, Amherst, Massachusetts: Control_Number: 20090014

Source: Smithsonian American Art Museum ~ SIRIS

For an archive of Lincoln Bust postings click here:


Related posts:

  1. “Honest Abe” On Public Display ~ MacNeil Month #7 (15.4) At the University of Illinois, Abraham Lincoln has been released…
  2. Happy Birthday Mr. Lincoln! ~ MacNeil’s Sculpture Released from Vault ~ MacNeil Month #4 (14.3)Abe Lincoln will be a little late for his 202nd…
  3. MacNeil Bust of Lincoln Stored in Vault (13.5) Hermon Atkins MacNeil would probably be amused to know that…











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While Chicagoans have seen these two MacNeil sculptures daily, they are new to this website’s collection of Hermon A. MacNeil’s art.  The groupings reside on Cook County Building. Each contain two male figures holding the Seal of Cook County. They are visible daily, across from the Daly Center at 118 N. Clark St.

MacNeil ~ Bas Relief – Seal of Cook County -1908 (left pair)

LEFT Pair 1).   VIEW A:  (Photo credit: Atelier Teee at Flickr)  http://www.flickr.com/photos/atelier_tee/2532280839/#/

VIEW B: (Photo Credit: Atelier Teee)  http://cookingimages.com/cook-county-building-sculpture/

RIGHT Pair 2).  VIEW C: http://img.groundspeak.com/waymarking/large/4a5e4e68-f29a-497f-86fc-97eeb563b75f.jpg

VIEW D: (Photo Credit: adgorn at Waymarking)  http://www.waymarking.com/waymarks/WM8APA_Cook_County_Building_Figures_Chicago_IL

These, along with two sculptures by MacNeil, two others by Leon Hermant and Carl Beil (“Labor on Water” & “Labor on Land”), adorn the building.  All four maybe seen in the video below.  This two minute video of the group has been produced by MindsMedia at their link below:
Bas reliefs by MacNeil and Hermant

Completed in 1908, the Cook County Building houses Courtrooms and public offices. At the time the 200 foot skyscraper dwarfed it’s neighbors, but now sits in the shadows of later skyscrapers in the downtown. Chicago City Hall, the twin structure on the same block was completed in 1912.

Photo & history of the building available at:  ArchitectureFarm


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Two MacNeil Statues on Connecticut Capitol were previously presented in a posting on May 7, 2011: “General Alfred Howe Terry” and “Major General John Sedgwick”

Connecticutt State Capitol in Hartford is home of 7 MacNeil sculptures.

Connecticut Capitol Bldg. – Hartford Connecticut

Presented here are the following pieces:

  • 1917 Capitol Building, Hartford Conn., full length statues of:
    • Colonel David Humphreys,
    • Judge Oliver Ellsworth,
    • General David Wooster,
    • Governor Oliver Wolcott, and
    • Gideon Welles.
  • Location: Connecticut State Capitol west elevation.

The west elevation of the Connecticut State Capitol honors significant historical figures of 18th-century Connecticut. Three of the four statues on this elevation honor veterans of the Revolutionary War.

In 1915 the state Commission on Sculpture selected the four statues to be installed on the west elevation of the capitol. All were sculpted by Hermon MacNeil.

More of MacNeil’s work can be seen in statues and medallions on the north and south sides of the capitol. He is best known for his design of the Liberty Quarter Dollar (1916).

Governor Oliver Wolcott statue.

  • Artist: Hermon MacNeil. Installed c. 1917. Picture not available.

  • Oliver Wolcott (1726-1797), one of the signers of the Declaration of Independence, was born in Litchfield, Connecticut. He commanded fourteen regiments of Connecticut militia sent to the defense of New York in the Revolutionary War. In 1796 he was chosen governor of Connecticut.
  • Biographical information on Wolcott can be found at Wikipedia

David Humphreys statue.

  • Location: Connecticut State Capitol west elevation. Artist: Hermon MacNeil.
David Humphreys Statue on the Connecticutt Capitol
  • David Humphreys (1752-1818) was born in Derby, Connecticut, educated at Yale, and became known as one of a group of poets and writers known as the “Hartford Wits.” In 1788, he wrote, Essay on the Life of the Honorable Major-General Israel Putnam.
  • During the Revolutionary War, Humphreys served as secretary-aide to General Washington, and is said to have been responsible for enlisting the first African-Americans in American armed forces. His heroic actions at the Battle of Yorktown earned him a presentation sword from Congress. He ended the War as a Lieutenant-Colonel, and served with the rank of Brigadier General in the War of 1812.

Humphreys’ statue was commissioned along with those of Oliver Wolcott, David Wooster, and Oliver Ellsworth by the state Commission on Sculpture in 1915, and  dedicated about 1921.

[“David Humphreys.” Dictionary of American Biography Base Set. American Council of Learned Societies, 1928-1936. Reproduced in Biography Resource Center. Farmington Hills, Mich.: Gale, 2009.]

[ http://galenet.galegroup.com/servlet/BioRC (accessed via iConn March 23, 2009).]

(Putnam’s statue by J. Q. A. Ward can be seen in Bushnell Park).



Judge  Oliver Ellsworth statue

Judge Oliver Ellsworth Statue on Connecticutt Capitol

  • Judge  Oliver Ellsworth (1745–1807) , American political leader, third Chief Justice of the United States (1796–1800), b. Windsor, Conn.  A Hartford lawyer, he was (1778–83) a member of the Continental Congress during the American Revolution. His great service was at the U.S. Constitutional Convention, where he and Roger Sherman advanced the “Connecticut compromise,” ending the struggle between large and small states over representation. He also served on the five-member committee that prepared the first draft of the Constitution, and was responsible for the use of the term “United States” in the document.
  • In Connecticut, he played (1788) an important role in the state ratifying convention. As U.S. senator (1789–96), he was a leader of the Federalists and largely drafted the bill that set up the federal judiciary and gave the U.S. Supreme Court the authority to review state supreme court decisions. Ellsworth later served (1799–1800) as a commissioner to negotiate with the French government concerning the restrictions put on American vessels. See biography by W. G. Brown (1905). The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2007, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.

Read more: Oliver Ellsworth — Infoplease.com http://www.infoplease.com/ce6/people/A0817167.html#ixzz1HfJgbLs1

also: http://www.archives.gov/exhibits/charters/constitution_founding_fathers_connecticut.html

David Wooster statue

General David Wooster statue on Connecticut State Capitol (west elevation).

  • 1924 General David Wooster statue. Another work of artist Hermon MacNeil, this sculpture rests on the west elevation of the Connecticut State Capitol.

Historical Background: General David Wooster (1711-1777) was born in Stratford, Connecticut, and served in the French and Indian Wars before commanding troops in the Revolutionary War. He is credited with masterminding the plan to capture Fort Ticonderoga in 1775, carried out by Ethan Allen and Aaron Burr. In 1776 he was put in command of the American troops at Quebec. After resigning from the Continental Army, Wooster served in command of the Connecticut militia. He was killed pursuing General Tryon’s retreating forces following Tryon’s attack on Danbury in 1777.

The Wooster statue was commissioned by the state Commission on Sculpture in 1915. Completion of the this and the Humphreys statue was delayed until more funds were approved in 1921.

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.


General Israel Putnam

  • General Israel Putnam (not pictured) – On the south elevation of the Conn. State Capitol he is depicted leaving his farm plow to answer the Lexington Alarm (1775) in a relief sculpture by artist Hermon MacNeil. General Putnam, a Connecticut native, served with distinction in theRevolutionary War. He is the originator of the famous phrase, “Don’t one of you fire until you see the white [sic] of their eyes” at the Battle of Bunker Hill near Boston(where he led Connecticut troops; 1775).
  • A statue of Putnam (by Artist: John QuincyAdams Ward [1830-1910]) can be seen in Bushnell Park– It is bronze metal on a granite base completed by Ward in 1873 (when MacNeil was only 7 years old.)  http://www.ct.gov/mil/cwp/view.asp?a=1351&q=258410).
  • For more on Putnam: “Don’t one of you fire until you see the white of their eyes”

Gideon Welles statue.

1934 Gideon Welles statue on Connecticut State Capitol (south elevation).

  • 1934 Gideon Welles statue. Location: Connecticut State Capitol south elevation.
  • Artist: Hermon MacNeil.
  • Installed c. 1934 0n The south elevation of the Connecticut State Capitol represents the Civil War era as well as Ella Grasso’s governorship. Gideon Welles (1802-1878) was Secretary of the Navy under Presidents Lincoln and Johnson, as well as editor of The Hartford Times. His statue occupies one of six niches on the south elevation of the projecting pavilion, alongside the statues of General John Sedgwick and Alfred Howe Terry (see previous posts).

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.


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"Column of Progress" with MacNeil's "Adventurous Bowman" as the finial figure on top. (postcard image courtesy of Gib Shell)

Of the many spectacular architectural creations that towered over San Francisco at the Pan-Pacific Exposition in 1915, perhaps “The Column of Progress” was one of the more unusual, at least by American standards.

MacNeil’s finial sculpture, “The Adventurous Bowman” atop the column was regarded as “the most splendid expression of sculpture and architectural art in the Exposition.”

The Exposition was a celebration of American achievement in the completion of the Panama Canal, thus the ‘Pan-Pacific’ designation.

In her 1915 book,  “Sculpture of the Exposition: Palaces and Courts” author Juliet Helena (Lumbard) James  stated:

The prototype of this column is seen in Trajan’s Column in the Forum of Trajan or in the Column of Marcus Aurelius, in Rome.

Both of these ancient prototypes are ‘old world’ symbols of imperial pride for military conquests.  Both are in Rome within a mile of each other.  Both would be in the familiar  foreground during MacNeil’s studies in Rome (1896-99).  Perhaps the same could be said for many other sculptors who designed the PPIE and also studied in Rome.

Note  the Column’s resemblance to Tragan’s Column in Rome. Also read more on this famous piece of Roman architecture.

In addition the Column of Marcus Aurelius bears a prototypical resemblance, though perhaps less spectacular.

For video of the Art of Exposition pictured in James’ book see: Juliet Helena (Lumbard) James, Art of the Exposition

Karl Bitter, a longterm colleague of MacNeil’s, organized the overall planning of sculpture for PPIE .

“After working as a sculptor at the World’s Columbian Exposition in Chicago in 1893 and as director at the Pan-American Exposition in Buffalo, New York in 1901, Bitter’s extraordinary organizational skills led him to be named head of the sculpture programs at both the 1904 St. Louis Exposition in St. Louis, Missouri, where Lee Lawrie trained with his guidance, and the 1915 Panama-Pacific Exposition held in San Francisco, California. In 1906/1907, he presided the National Sculpture Society.”

[ Source: Wikipedia http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Karl_Bitter ]

Both Bitter and MacNeil were based in New York City.  They worked on at least  four world’s fairs together.  Both were elected president of the National Sculpture Society – Bitter in 1906-7, MacNeil in 1910-12 and again 1922-24.

While Karl Bitter was the designated the “Chief of Sculpture of the Exposition,” A. Stirling Calder, another one of MacNeil ‘s colleagues and former students, was called, The man at the wheel in the management of all the works of sculpture at the Panama-Pacific International Exposition.” Bitter was tragically struck by a car in NYC and killed before the PPIE work was completed.  Leadership for the completion of the Exposition sculptures then fell on the shoulders of his young assistant, A. Stirling Calder .

MacNeil's 'Adventurous Bowman' atop the "Column of Progress." None the structures and sculptures seen here remained after the PPIE closed in 1915. (Postcard courtesy of Gib Shell)

Architect – Symmes Richardson, one of the junior partners of the firm of McKim, Meade and White of New York designed the column structurally.   This was the architectural firm of “The White City” of the Chicago World’s Fair of 1893. That event jump-started MacNeil’s career as well as those of many  artists and sculptors of that era.

The postcard pictured above identifies the Column sculptor as Alexander Stirling Calder. He and MacNeil would later collaborate on their paired statues of George Washington “at War” and “at Peace” for the Washington Arch in New York City. By 1914 MacNeil  had already begun working on his ‘General Washington’ statue erected in 1916. Calder’s ‘President Washington’ would be placed on the Arch two years later. Stanford White, another architect from McKim, Mead and White designed the Washington Arch.

Juliet James offers a detailed interpretation and description of the “Column of Progress” in her book.

“The Column of Progress”

The bas-reliefs at the base are by Isadore Konti of New York.
The sum of all human effort is represented. Man’s spiritual progress is seen on the four sides of the base.
Atlas rolling the heavens suggests the passage of time.
Men with their different ideals in the long procession of progress are seen. Some go manfully on, some fearfully, some feel the need of the sword to win their way, others find companions necessary, but all of these men and women must have faith (represented by the two meaningful women at the door), the hope of the palm of victory, and hear the bugle call as they go on their upward climb.
They pass before us, these men and women of different aspirations, and disappear from view.
Up, up they climb.
At the top of the column is Hermon A. McNeil’s Burden Bearers, supporting his Adventurous Bowman.   “All must toil to win” and some must bend their backs that others may rise. Has it not been so at the Panama Canal?
Have not many done the labor that the United States, the Adventurous Bowman, may win?  This purposeful type of manhood, with magnificent decision, has just drawn the bow, and on has sped the arrow of success.
The bowman looks to see it hit the mark.  The man on the right possibly is one of his aids.
The little woman at his side will know by his eyes if the arrow has gone home, and she will then bestow upon him the laurel wreath and the palm of victory which she holds in her hand. She stands ready to help him.
See the group from the sea-wall directly in front of the Column of Progress for the splendid purpose expressed in the figure and on the face of the “Adventurous Bowman.”
Many San Franciscans would like to have this wonderful group duplicated in bronze to remain permanently with the city of the Exposition of 1915.”

While not a part of the Column of Progress, MacNeil’s “Signs of the Zodiac” were also an appreciated part of his contribution to the Exposition.  This sculpture was destroyed as well. [This is the only surviving photo that I have found to date – Webmaster.]




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
Hosting & Tech Support: Leiturgia Communications, Inc.           WATCH US GROW


1. Take digital photos of the work from all angles, including setting.
2. Take close up photos of details that you like
3. Look for MacNeil’s signature. Photograph it too! See examples above.
4. Please, include a photo of you & others beside the work.
5. Tell your story of adventure. It adds personal interest.
6. Send photos to ~ Webmaster at: HAMacNeil@gmail.com