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

This website seeks to transport you through miles and years with a few quick clicks of a mouse or keyboard or finger swipes on an iPad.

Perhaps you walk or drive by one of MacNeil's many sculptures daily. Here you can gain awareness of this artist and his works.

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

Maybe there are some near you!

Archive for August, 2019

A grounds renovation at the Montclair Art Museum could result in the removal of the bronze Sun Vow which has been at the entrance since 1914. Plans include a reflecting pond with a newly-commissioned sculpture.
Credit: DEBORAH ANN TRIPOLDI/STAFF [Source: Montclair Local News 2019/7/03 ]

The web site has received information that  MacNeil’s “Sun Vow” may lose its place of prominence at the entry circle of the Montclair Art Museum (NJ).  The statue was a gift of the co-founder, William T. Evans.  It has been welcoming patrons to the front door for over a century after William Evans (the donor and co-founder) commissioned it in 1903, and placed it there in 1914.  

The Monclair Local contains an article by Jaimie Julia Winters titled, Sculpture Removal, Tree Loss Concerns Raised with Outdoor Expansion”

Winters states:

Plans to upgrade the grounds of the Montclair Art Museum have been met with criticism from the community and the township’s historic preservation consultant over alterations to the “cultural landscape,” tree removals and the relocation of the bronze statue by Hermon Atkins MacNeil located at the entrance since the museum opened in 1914.

The New Plan– [SOURCE: https://www.montclairlocal.news/wp-content/uploads/2019/07/Screen-Shot-2019-06-28-at-1.03.25-PM-1.png/

The architectural rendering above shows the new plan. The article in the Montclair Local offers a description:

A new reflecting pond is planned for the grassy area in front of the museum on S. Mountain Avenue. Plans also include removing the Sun Vow sculpture and place a new, yet-to-be-commissioned piece of art in the pond. The cypress tree located in the front, reportedly planted by Van Vleck, will also be removed.

The circular driveway connecting the parking lot to the turn-around area will be repaved with granite blocks. Handicapped parking spaces along the driveway will also be reconfigured.

(Architect Paul) Sionas told the Historic Preservation Commission that original plans for the museum called for a reflecting pool and referred to a rendering dating back to 1915 of the museum front with people in top hats and with the statue in the middle of a reflecting pool.

The website has been contacted by “a group of concerned Montclair residents who want the sculpture to remain in its original location.”

Kathleen Bennett, chair of the Montclair Historic Preservation Commission, stated:
I am writing to you concerning the copy the Montclair Art Museum (NJ) of the “Sun Vow” which was given to the Montclair Art Museum when it opened in 1914. The donor was Mr. William T. Evans, who (we are told) commissioned the first copy for the front lawn of his mansion in Montclair in 1903. He gifted it to the Montclair Museum where it held pride-of-place until now.  The board of the museum now want to move the sculpture to another location, as yet unknown, and replace it with a “contemporary” sculpture. We are a group of concerned Montclair residents who want the sculpture to remain in its original location. 

“We feel that to move the sculpture from the front of the museum completely negates the original donor’s intentions.”

William Evans donated the Sun Vow bronze statue, which sits on a rock outside the main entrance of MAM. Bronze statues are typically duplicated in full-size. Famous works such as the Sun Vow have been reproduced in both half size and even quarter size replicas.  A half-size Sun Vow (seen below) exhibits at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City (cast in 1919).  The original full-size “Sun Vow” graces the Chicago Institute of Art (cast in 1901).  The first-copy of the original may be on the move at  MAM.

"The Sun Vow" by H A MacNeil

The “Sun Vow” by H. A. MacNeil graces the courtyard of the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City. This copy was cast in half-size later in 1919.

“Sun Vow” by Hermon MacNeil at the Art Institute of Chicago cast in 1901. [Photo by Dan Leininger, webmaster, www.HermonAtkinsMacNeil.com ]

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
The MAM First copy of the “Sun Vow” is older than any other except the Art Institute of Chicago.  It is a historic piece in the world of art and the history of Montclair Art Museum (MAM)

Note BELOW the antique book plate put out be The Montclair Art Association: (date unknown).

P.S.
Kathleen Bennett praise this website by saying:   “Your website is extremely informative about Hermon Atkins MacNeil and I hope you will add Montclair’s “Sun Vow” to the site.”
Thanks Kathleen.
Here is Part One.
More to come … Stay tuned to https://hermonatkinsmacneil.com
 
Daniel Neil Leininger
webmaster
 

“The Pony Express” heads West into the setting sun. MacNeil loved to study the site and setting for his works so he could place them into their unique Horizon as this dramatic shot highlights.

On first viewing, the sculptures of Hermon MacNeil express amazing beauty and gracefulness.  A second and third viewing reveals MacNeil’s careful inclusion of unique details connected to the subjects, objects and historical periods that he sought to portray in bronze and stone.

In sculpting a befitting monument to the “Pony Express” in 1940, Hermon MacNeil showed his abiding attention to detail.  Studying this “last” public monument reveals a series of actions he completed in preparing and perfecting his final product:

  • He found a suitable “stallion” as his model.
    • The charger he found was a rescued “wild mustang” from the plains of the North Dakota (Teddy Roosevelt country).  The steed was used as a rodeo “bucking bronco” and named after the Mexican outlaw, Poncho Villa.
    • Hermon referred to the animal as “glorious horse flesh”. This was the musculature that he immortalized in bronze. For the last 80 years  it’s been heading West out of downtown Saint Joseph, Missouri, just a few blocks from the Pony Express Station of the 1860’s.
    • The back story of “Poncho Villa” this outlaw mustang from North Dakota by way Madison Square Gardens is a prime example
  • He became friends with a physician nicknamed the “cowboy doctor”.
    • The man was Dr. S. Meredith Strong of Flushing, NY, a neighboring community to College Point where MacNeil lived and had his studio.
    • Dr. Strong was devoted to the preservation of “wild mustangs” from the prairies.
    • Strong was president of the American Rough Riders, “an organization devoted to the preservation of the horse, and especially the native wild pony.”
  • MacNeil studied the history of the Pony Express.
    • He did this by visiting St. Joseph, Missouri where the Pony Express Museum is located and by evaluating the site designated for the monument.
    • He also had Dr. Strong’s interest, knowledge and fervor to instruct him.

Theatrically, MacNeil had his own fascination fueled by attending the “Buffalo Bill Wild West Show” at the Chicago Worlds Fair (Columbian Exposition).  Buffalo Bill Cody included a re-enactment of a Pony Express ride as a regular dramatization during his shows.  He himself claimed to be a rider, though some dispute that assertion.  

  • The photos below show the actual clay model taken from his studio after his death in 1947.  The broken forelegs and head show the wire structure that the clay was modeled on.
  • I took these photos in the archives of the Swope Art Museum in Terre Haute, IN. MacNeil built a wire frame on which he constructed his clay model of the horse.
  • Swope Art Museum has remnants of H. A. MacNeil’s small clay models of larger statues salvaged from his studio and storage after his death.
  • Wire frames were a standard practice for constructing clay statue figures of larger proportions. 
  • FOR EXAMPLE: His Manuelito Statue in Gallup, NM was made in 1895 of cement over a wire frame.  It has been restored. 
  • NOTE: I have yet to visit Gallup and see the restored Manuelito statue.

MacNeil was a natural talent as an artist.  His training helped him perfect those innate skills.  By their nature sculptors must be talented artists.  Those skills start early in life.  They include

  • a visual attention to detail. 
  • Visual imaging and proportions.
  • an ability to capture and reproduce the essence of a object and form. 

From there the  process becomes quite meticulous. Phases involved can be described as including:

Model of a Pony Express saddle similar to Dr. Strong’s collection and what MacNeil depicted on his Monument. (Compare actual photo of MacNeil’s work below:)

  • detailed observation;
  • research;
  • historical accuracy;
  • design and balance;
  • construction;
  • inclusion of details and symbols.

The Long Island Star heralded “Poncho Villa”,  his rescuer, Dr. Strong, and Hermon MacNeil’s mastery of sculptural detail in the following narration:

“Watch Out. Pard!     Dr. Strong acquired Poncho from the rodeo after it broke up in New York, just as he did his last “pet.”  The outlaw put six men in the hospital before the physician was able to gain its confidence after months of patient work.  But even today the pony is a one-man animal.  He is a gentle as a lamb when the doctor is around, but let a stranger come near – if you don’t care what happens to the stranger! 

            Fittingly enough for a horse that modeled for the Pony Express statue, Poncho has red, white and blue markings.  The gun, holster, spurs, belt and other accessories sculptured in the replica are all relics which Dr. Strong brought from New Mexico.”   (From the Long Island Star, Tuesday November 19, 1940)

Details of the mail bags as MacNeil modeled them after Dr. Strong’s authentic Pony Express gear from the 1930’s.

Related posts:

Here are my two favorite young Chicagoans coming back from a theater performance of “Hamilton”. They stopped and posed below the second panel.

In 2019 the Marquette Building construction has the four bas relief panels (above the doors) protected under scaffolding while the edifice is under repair.  >—–>>

Hermon MacNeil’s first studio home was  in the Marquette Building of Chicago in 1895. His wedding reception for him and Carol Brooks was hosted there on Christmas Day eve 1895.

From that same location, his Four Bronze Panels over the front doors have been telling the story of Father Marquette for 124 years.  They welcome visitors into the Marquette Building, just as the Native Americans met and welcomed the European explorers to Northwest Territory.  The Native Americans who lived in these regions include the Ojibwa, Huron, Ottowa, Illini, Potawatomi, and Menominee.  MacNeil placed these tribes on the Marquette Memorial Statue on Douglas Avenue in 1926.

MacNeil carved the tribal names in the Marquette Memorial of 1926. His moccasins are exquisite in detail, looking life-like.

 [(These Panels were refurbished to their original bronze luster in 2009.) CLICK HERE]

“Over the doors of the main entrance are panels of bronze, designed and executed by Mr. Herman A. MacNeil, illustrating incidents in the life of Pere Marquette in his explorations of the Mississippi River and the state of Illinois…The inscriptions below are panels taken from Marquette’s diary.” 
Architectural Reviewer, July 1897

Before the remodeling the panels look like this. MacNeil’s bronze panels of 1895.

MacArthur Foundation began restorations in 2001.

Marquette Building at 140 S. Dearborn Ave in Chicago with four MacNeil bronze sculptures above the entry doors

The John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation began ongoing restoration phases after acquiring the structure in 2001.

These phases include the following:

In 2001, the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, its current owners, began a multi-year renovation.[18] The restoration to the exterior proceeded in two phases: reconstructing the cornice and replacing the 17th story windows to match the original windows; and cleaning and restoring the masonry and restoring the remainder of the windows.[8][19] Restoration architect Thomas “Gunny” Harboe directed this work.

The Foundation has invested in multiple restorations.

The Marquette and Joliette faces of MacNeil’s 1899 bronze reliefs at the Marquette building in the Loop resemble those likenesses he placed in his larger statue grouping on Douglas Avenue in 1926.

The Foundation website describes the History of the Panels as follows:   “Herman (sic: Hermon) MacNeil was a trained sculptor who worked on sculptures for the 1893 World’s Fair. After commissioning MacNeil for the exterior bronzes, Aldis wrote to Peter Brooks, “McNeil’s [sic] panels are being placed in position. It is greatly to their and his credit that these bas-reliefs have won for him the Roman [Reinhart] Fellowship. The Commission, choosing him as the best of the very young men…The young sculptor was married on Christmas Day, and sailed for Rome on Wednesday, and is, on the whole, the most happy young man I know. He is very grateful to the owners of the Marquette Building.” CLICK HERE

MacNeil modeled Black Pipe after meeting him in Buffalo Bill’s Wild West Show at the Chicago Worlds Fair.

 

 

The fine features of the child contract those of the weathered warriors.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

https://lh3.googleusercontent.com/p/AF1QipMoXrdAoOT7PRD-QcwjCC96VrRg_aDC7F7aay66=s1600-w1600

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

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