Archive for May, 2012
Daniel Chester French’s most famous creation is his seated Lincoln. This work won him much acclaim, including a National Sculpture Society Special Honor Award in 1929.
The screen capture (above) shows a frame from the 1929 silent movie “The Medal Maker.” This video frame shows two of the four presidents of the National Sculpture Society presenting the NSS‘s ‘Special Award Medal’ to Daniel Chester French (left). Hermon MacNeil is in center (with hand gesture). Herbert Adams is on right.
French (1850-1931) died just 2 years after this video was made. The making of the Medal by Laura Gardin Fraser is told in “The Medal Maker” (CLICK HERE FOR MORE).
I recently visited our nation’s Capitol with family. Sculpture and history are everywhere. On the way to the Supreme Court to take a few photos of MacNeil’s tortoise and the hare, I was lured away by a few wonderful sites.
So the East Pediment of 11 figures (Moses, Confucius, Solon, the tortoise and the hare, and six others) would have to wait.
In front of the White House in Lafayette Square, I found Andrew Jackson rearing up on horseback and waiving his hat to the White House and Washington monument in the distance. Apparently, he has been doing that pose for over 160 years when Clark Mills’ tribute to Jackson was emplaced. For more perspectives and close-up details on this piece click HERE at DCmemorials.com.
Behind the Old Executive Office Building, high on a Roman column stood “Victory” by Daniel Chester French. Cass Gilbert was also the architect of this WWI memorial to the First Infantry Division. All of the funds for the monument as well as the additions were provided by the Society of the First Infantry Division.
To see this full monument and others in the Ellipse and D.C. CLICK HERE. The StationStart.com website provides photos and history to accompany your ride on the Metro through the Capitol.
On across the street stands the Washington Monument which is closed for structural repairs following the earth quake last year. Some mortar was loosened and cracks opened. But the spire stands tall and proud like the General himself.
On down the hill to the west rests the WWII Memorial. Nestled into the center of the Mall, this oval dish of fountains, pools, and 56 state and territorial salutes gathers people into a living history. Veterans of WWII, some of the last remaining were there on that sunny Saturday morning giving dignity and flesh and blood to this stunningly compelling tribute. As a VA Chaplain, I found myself shedding more tears here and recalling the veterans I have been privileged to know.
ALL GAVE SOME – SOME GAVE ALL. These 4048 Gold Stars commemorate the 404,800 American soldiers who died in World War II. Each Gold Star here represents 100 dead.
During the war, each mother of a veteran would place a Blue Star in the front window of the family home. A Gold Star is what a mother placed if a son had been killed in action.
For more photos and history on this monument see HERE.
COMING: Next post will take us to the Lincoln Memorial to see Daniel Chester French’s most renowned sculpture.
Eda Lord, (the woman who purchased the MacNeil bronze statue, “Primitive Indian Music” ~ 1894), attended the World’s Columbian Exposition on “Chicago Day.” Jim Dixon sent us a scan of his great-grandmother’s actual Ticket to the Chicago World’s Fair.
Eda Lord was not alone. Chicago Day was packed. A total of 716,881 people attended for “Chicago Day,” October 9, 1893. That day commemorated the anniversary of the Great Chicago Fire of 1871. The ‘Chicago Day’ marked Chicago’s rebirth.
Every day of the Chicago World’s Fair marked the city’s arrival on the world-scene. While New York City, Washington, D.C., and St.Louis, had all competed for this ‘Columbian’ 400-year-extravaganza, Chicago won the honors (and labors). The CWE invited America to come take notice that this western-railroad-cattletown was now a cultural-financial center. Like Columbus himself, the European “Old World” of art and architecture had crossed the Atlantic Ocean and resurrected in this “New World” of American progress, industry, and prosperity. Now along the shore of this inland Great Lake a “White City” fantasy had emerged. Crafted from the hands, talents, and imaginations of American “Beaux Arts” artists, sculptors and architects.
And like Eda Lord, from all over the United States, Canada, South America, Europe, Asia and the world, they came. In total, over 27,000,000 million people attended the entire 1893 Columbia International Exposition. That number was half of the US population of 54 million then.
I told Jim Dixon that just seeing his Great-Grandmother Eda’s ticket made me wonder:
- How old was Eda Lord when she attended the Fair?
- Who would she go with?
- Would a lady attend alone?
- She lived in Evanston, north of the city. She could have rode the train from there in less than an hour into the “White City”.
- She might have passed the “Buffalo Bill Wild West Show” on her way to the main Gate.
Here is what Jim told us about the ticket:
I started pouring through the boxes of family history tonight. I have a long way to go, but I found something that is perhaps a clue. Of all things, Eda Lord saved a ticket stub from the World’s Columbian Exposition for “Chicago Day” on Oct 9th 1893. The ticket is numbered and obviously a part was torn off. It is in perfect shape. Attached is a scan of the ticket. Much more exploring to do and I will send along anything relevant that I find.
Well Jim, You have quite a find! That is a valuable souvenir. And a family history keepsake.
HERMON ATKINS MACNEIL:
Hermon MacNeil was there as well. For three years he worked on drawings, plans and sculpture.
MacNeil sculpted figures on the Electricity building (MORE HERE). He was only 27 years old then. He had returned from study in Paris from about 1888 – 1890. He came to Chicago to work with Phillip Martiny. Some say he stopped in New York to get a letter of recommendation from August Saint-Gaudens to give to Martiny in Chicago.
A hundred or more artists sculpted the White City. Many would be MacNeil’s contemporaries and colleagues through his life. Carol Brooks, who Hermon MacNeil would marry two years later, was also one of the women sculptors called in at the last months to finish the plaster-staff statues that adorned the Fair. (Carol had studied sculpture with both Lorado Taft and Frederick William MacMonnies) Carol was also a member of “The White Rabbits” ~ a self-christened group of women sculptors called in to complete the massive work load of ‘staff’ statues needed for the Chicago Fair in 1893. ).
Also to see my post CLICK HERE (look for their ‘Marriage’ paragraph.)
HERE ARE CLOSE-UP PHOTOS THAT SUGGEST THAT THIS “Primitive Indian Music” PIECE WAS AN EARLY PROTO-TYPE OF THE “PRIMITIVE CHANT” STATUE (WHICH WAS MUCH MORE REFINED AND POLISHED IN ITS CASTING FINISH.)
It is also based on “Black Pipe”, the young Sioux Brave. MacNeil first saw Black Pipe at the Buffalo Bills Wild West Show and we know that he returned many times to study the Indians. ( I have ordered two books on Buffalo Bills Wild West Show, the Indians, conditions, treatment etc.)
We will return to the story of “Black Pipe”, the young Sioux Brave. Perhaps, like MacNeil, we will return many times. ~~ DNL