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!

Aug
16

Attention to Detail ~ “The Pony Express” ~ by H. A. MacNeil

By

“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.

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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
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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