Archive for August, 2011
As mentioned in the previous post of July 22, the Lincoln Hall statue at University of Illinois was cast from a standing Lincoln original plaster sculpture. The Smithsonian Institute archives contain a photo of that piece on right. [or CLICK HERE]
Note the folded arms, the papers in the right hand, and the young clean-shaven Lawyer Lincoln. The resemblance of the Lincoln Hall figure (left) to the Smithsonian photo (right) is apparent (even in the reduced images seen here).
MacNeil’s original plaster statue of Lincoln (standing) very likely has been lost to the ages. He sculpted it in 1914 for a competition of the Art Commission of Illinois. They sought a statue for the City of Springfield. After the commission chose another sculpture, MacNeil worked with Roman Bronze Works to cast 8 Lincoln busts from the original standing Lincoln.
The original may have been destroyed, or more probably, was stored in Roman Bronze Works (RBW) warehouse . There it would have been subject to the foundry activities, moves, changes and decay of that facility’s history over the past 100 years since MacNeil created the fragile plaster Lawyer Lincoln. (Many renowned sculptors desired the “lost wax” method of casting which RBW made available in the U.S. ) During the thirty years from 1897 to 1927, Roman Bronze Works resided in New York City. The story of RBW after 1927 seems a bit more complicated:
Roman Bronze Works in New York City, established in 1897 by Ricardo Bertelli, was the pre-eminent sculpture bronze foundry in the United States during the American Renaissance. It continued to cast sculpture after that period ended. Its foundry, long a sub-contractor to Louis Comfort Tiffany‘s Tiffany Studios, moved to Tiffany’s Corona, New York, red brick factory in 1927. …
Roman Bronze Works, which made Tiffany’s bronze accessories and lamp bases, moved to Tiffany’s Corona facility in 1927. Roman Bronze Works was purchased in 1946 by Salvatore Schiavo, whose father had been working at the foundry since 1902. His nephew, Philip J. Schiavo, the grandson of the first Schiavo, was the president of the foundry until its closing.
After the foundry closed, an auction was staged of original plaster models of major works by American artists, Frederic Remington, Daniel Chester French, Charles Russell, Bessie Potter Vonnoh and Anna Hyatt Huntington, in New York, 17 September 1988. Some of the molds were moved to warehouse space in Copiague, New York, under the aegis of American Art Restoration, Inc.. Fortunately the business archives were preserved and are now at the Amon Carter Museum Library, Fort Worth, Texas.In addition, the foundry has recently been reopened as Roman Bronze Studios by Brain Ramnarine who apprenticed and worked at Roman Bronze Works with Salvatore and Philip Schiavo. (Source: Wikipedia http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Roman_Bronze_Works )
Whether MacNeil’s original plaster model of the standing Lincoln was transported in the 1927 move, or was part of the ownership transfer of 1946 (the year before MacNeil died), or was sold in the 1988 auction of American artists has yet to be documented by this researcher. Perhaps, it was destroyed after the eight busts were cast. Though no recored of that is found either. [A 2002 book devoted to Roman Bronze Works, by Lucy D. Rosenfeld, A Century of American Sculpture The Roman Bronze Works Foundry bears a photo of MacNeil’s “Sun Vow” on the cover. Rosenfeld used the firm’s ledgers and archival photographs now stored at the Amon Carter Museum. This volume warrants future investigation].
LINCOLN BUST FACTS:
- The bust in Urbana was placed in Lincoln Hall in 1929.
- This procurement suggested by Lorado Taft occurred fifteen years after the original sculpture was made.
- The University of Illinois “Lincoln Lawyer” is the only one of MacNeil’s Lincoln busts pictured on this website,
- It is the only one ever seen by this author,
- It remains the only one readily found by web searching in general.
- It is a truly beautiful piece that is now restored to its original patina and brilliance.
Art and museum records locate four of MacNeil’s eight “Lincoln Lawyer” castings. the others “Lincoln Lawyer” busts by MacNeil appear incomplete as follows:
- University of Pennsylvania, Office of the Curator, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania – Control_Number: 77001611
- Beloit College, Wright Museum of Art, Beloit, Wisconsin – Control_Number: 75008855
- Amherst College, Mead Art Museum, Amherst, Massachusetts: Control_Number: 20090014
- Amherst College, Mead Art Museum, Amherst, Massachusetts 01002 Accession Number: S.1932.4
Source: Smithsonian American Art Museum ~ SIRIS