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 May, 2023

Julie Tsirkin reports “Debt Limit Deal Reached!”


As Will Rogers’ statue watches behind her

Jo Davidson, sculptor, 1921

Thanks to Jo Davidson, 

“Will Rogers” is keeping his eye on Congress!

Hermon MacNeil’s “studio boy” became renowned sculptor Jo Davidson of portrait busts.

Jo Davidson looks uo to his bronze “Will Rogers” in his Paris Studio before came to the U.S.

 Perhaps you saw

Julie Tsirkin,

Capitol correspondent,

report from the U.S. Capitol.

“Debt Limit Deal Reached!”

 Sometimes you just see the “Will’s” legs and the shoes. But Will wanted his eyes kept on Congress.  So “The old head hunter” (Will’s nickname for Jo) made his head turned so he could look down at Congress members as they walked into the Chamber.



~  ~  0  ~  ~

“There are men running governments

who shouldn’t be allowed

to play with matches.”

Will Rogers

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

I don’t make jokes.

I just watch the government

and report the facts.

Will Rogers



Will Rogers statue in US Capitol sculpted by Jo Davidson who began his career as a “studio boy” for Hermon MacNeil in College Point.

If you could ever see the marble base it would reveal three words:

Will Rogers



The Washington, D.C. version of the statue was unveiled in 1939.[11] At that unveiling on June 6, Senator Joshua B. Lee said of Rogers’ effect on the United States during the Depression, “His humor was the safety valve for American Life.”[12]  https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Will_Rogers_(Davidson)



The House Connecting corridor is the common visual background for Capitol news briefings.   The nameless, but familiar, dark bronze legs or full statue, represent Will’s last wish.

Last Wish of


Will Rogers

“I need to keep my eyes


on Congress.”


Jo Davidson’s statue watched on January 6, 2021 as raging Trump protestors turned into rioters (mixed with vigilantes) attacking the Capitol Building. [ breaking windows, carrying fire arms, vandalizing desks and offices, creating chaos and danger … ]

Senators were in the Constitutional process of certifying the votes of the Electoral College which  authorizes the Inauguration of the 46th President on January 20, 2021.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

HUMOR from 100 years ago:

(Then tell me if Will Rogers still speaks to us in 2023.)

  1. “When you find yourself in a hole, quit digging.” – Will Rogers
  2. “The short memories of the American voters is what keeps our politicians in office.” – Will Rogers
  3. “If pro is the opposite of con, what is the opposite of Congress?” – Will Rogers
  4. “If stupidity got us in this mess, how come it can’t get us out.” – Will Rogers
  5. “A fool and his money are soon elected.” – Will Rogers
  6. “I don’t make jokes. I just watch the government and report the facts.” – Will Rogers
  7. “The more you observe politics, the more you’ve got to admit that each party is worse than the other.” – Will Rogers
  8. “Ten men in our country could buy the whole world and ten million can’t buy enough to eat.” – Will Rogers
  9. “It takes a lifetime to build a good reputation, but you can lose it in a minute.” – Will Rogers
  10. “An onion can make people cry, but there has never been a vegetable invented to make them laugh.” – Will Rogers
  11. “The difference between death and taxes is that death doesn’t get worse every time Congress meets.” – Will Rogers
  12. “I am not a member of any organized political party — I am a Democrat.” – Will Rogers
  13. “Be thankful we’re not getting all the government we’re actually paying for.” – Will Rogers
  14. “There is no trick to being a humorist when you have the whole government working for you.” – Will Rogers
  15. “All I know is just what I read in the papers, and that’s an alibi for my ignorance.” – Will Rogers

Related posts:

  1. DC Capitol Assault? by “Trump-it-eers!” ~~ What Would Will Rogers Say about January 6, 2021 ? (9.6) Jo Davidson was the “studio boy” for Hermon Atkins MacNeil…
  2. Will Rogers Bedroom ~ Ponca City ~ Post # 4 ~ (7.7) E.W. Marland the colorful oil baron of the 1910s and…


  1. Photo: Will Rogers Statue https://www.visitthecapitol.gov/exhibitions/timeline/image/will-rogers-jo-davidson-1938
  2. Will Rogers Quotes: https://inspirationfeed.com/will-rogers-quotes/
  3. Will Rogers Bio:  https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Will_Rogers_(Davidson)


1939 Chicago World’s Fair

This old torn photo (right) shows Augusta Savage (center) with Eleanor Roosevelt (Right) visiting the Harlem Community Art Center funded by Worker’s Progress Administration  developed by President Franklin Delano Roosevelt.


There, Eleanor saw “Realization”by Augusta Savage.  The sculpture (at left and below) represents a powerful interpretation of the experience a Black Couple at the slave block.

Playwright, Carolyn Gage, reflected in 2016 on the “Realization” piece in her blog.  [ Realization by Augusta Savage ]  https://carolyngage.weebly.com/blog/realization-by-augusta-savage ]

Her observations seem very appropriate to our platform here on Hermon Atkins MacNeil since his endorsement  of Augusta Savage seems quite influential to her career and the sculptural Art of the Harlem Renaissance.  Now, 100 years later is appears no less relevant.

Carolyn Gage wrote:

“First, it appears to be about enslavement. The title, in my understanding, refers to the moment when the last shreds of denial, distraction, or wishful thinking are stripped away, and these two are confronted with the absolute horror and helplessness of their situation. Because of the placement of the woman’s arms, it appears that her shirt or the top of her dress has been intentionally stripped away, and that she is attempting to protect herself.

The male could be either her son or her partner. In either case, he is posed in a position suggestive of a frightened child. This is a radical choice on the part of Savage.

Unquestionably, Savage was familiar with the sculpture The Greek Slave, by American sculptor Hiram Power. Completed in 1844, it went on to become one of the best-known and critically acclaimed artworks of the nineteenth century. Unlike Savage, Powers’ words about his creation have been preserved:

“Her father and mother, and perhaps all her kindred, have been destroyed by her foes, and she alone preserved as a treasure too valuable to be thrown away. She is now among barbarian strangers, under the pressure of a full recollection of the calamitous events which have brought her to her present state; and she stands exposed to the gaze of the people she abhors, and awaits her fate with intense anxiety, tempered indeed by the support of her reliance upon the goodness of God. Gather all these afflictions together, and add to them the fortitude and resignation of a Christian, and no room will be left for shame.”
When the Power’s statue went on international tour, the pamphet read: “It represents a being superior to suffering, and raised above degradation, by inward purity and force of character.”

Augusta Savage, REALIZATION, 1938. The School of Arts and Crafts, founded by Savage, and the Harlem Community Art Center, of which Savage served as the first director after its creation in 1937 with Works Progress Administration (WPA) aid. In the middle and late 1930s, federal arts projects under the New Deal provided an unprecedented level of encouragement to the development of Black artists and helped start the careers of a new generation of artists.

More on “Realization”

In the middle and late 1930s, federal arts projects under the New Deal provided an unprecedented level of encouragement to the development of Black artists and helped start the careers of a new generation of artists.


  1. [Britannica, The Editors of Encyclopaedia. “Works Progress Administration”. Encyclopedia Britannica, Invalid Date, https://www.britannica.com/topic/Works-Progress-Administration. Accessed 19 April 2023.
  2. Source:  Carolyn Gage:  https://carolyngage.weebly.com/blog/realization-by-augusta-savage



Categories : Location
Comments (0)

Augusta Savage

As mentioned in the previous post [on May 5, 2023] Savage applied for a summer art program at the Fontainebleau School of Fine Arts in France.[9] She was accepted, BUT THEN rejected because she was BLACK.

Sculptor, Hermon Atkins MacNeil, wrote a letter of protest to W.E.B. Dubois, then Hermon invited Augusta to study with him.  She later cited Hermon as one of her teachers.”

All of that took place in 1923,

THEN, 15 YEARS Later . . . the

1939 New York World’s Fair

premiered her work —


“The Harp”  




“Lift Every Voice and Sing”


Book page with photograph
An intriguing image of a sculpture from Claude McKay’s 1940 publication, Harlem: Negro Metropolisa narrative on the history of Harlem and its most notable African American residents.   The book includes photographs of works by Black artist Augusta Savage in the early 20th century. The photographic portrait of what is a likely a maquette of  the 1939 New York World’s Fair, Lift Every Voice and Sing”.

It remains a rare material artifact of a fair centerpiece since lost to time, and a clue to the importance of her high-profile commission for American culture and Black artistry.

Standing at 16 feet in height and one of only two works by African American artists featured in the exhibition, Savage’s plaster sculpture took its name from James Weldon and J. Rosamond Johnson’s “Lift Every Voice and Sing,” a hymn of particular meaning within Black communities. Savage modeled the piece after themes found in the song—unity, perseverance through faith, and pride, all of which are reflected in her musical scene. The harp’s form is defined by a long arm and hand cradling 12 singers in choir robes, their strong stance and the folds of their garments evocative of strings. A young man kneels in the lead holding sheet music and carrying a pensive expression on his face, uplifted (we imagine) by the beautiful melody and the image the eponymous hymn’s words recall.

“The Harp,” as it became known, was a major achievement for Savage. Born Augusta Christine Fells in Green Cove, Florida, February 29, 1892, she was raised by a Methodist minister who opposed her creative interests. Over her father’s objections, Savage returned again and again to sculpture throughout her youth and—after marrying, having a child, and becoming widowed by her early 20s—committed her focus to the arts and moved to New York City with less than $5 in her pocket. Savage quickly became a recognized talent in the art world and a vocal advocate for equal rights, generating media attention when an American selection committee revoked her award of a summer study-abroad scholarship to Paris because of her race. Defying these obstacles, Savage self-funded and completed a 4-year arts degree at The Cooper Union in 3 years, fundraised for her own trips to France to exhibit at prestigious sites like the Salon d’Automne and Grand Palais, and earned an array of accolades ranging from a Carnegie Foundation travel grant to the distinction of being the only African American member admitted into the National Association of Women Painters and Sculptors. By 1937, the 1939 New York World’s Fair Board of Design reached out to her with the idea of a large-scale sculpture symbolizing the legacy of African American music.

Though 44 million guests had the chance to witness and admire Savage’s triumph at the 19-month exhibition, unfortunately the work was destroyed when the fair ended, a scenario not uncommon for temporary works and pavilions. Promotional postcards and documentary photos like the one in McKay’s book, however, paint a picture of the song and sculpture’s true impact and continued resonance. Today, “Lift Every Voice and Sing” is still widely celebrated as the “Black national anthem” (recently and memorably performed at “Beychella”) and metal replicas of Savage’s 1939 tribute—a testament to the inspirational power of the Black church and indomitable nature of the human spirit—are held in collections such as those of the Schomburg Center in Harlem and Columbus Museum in Georgia.

– Carlos Ascurra, FIU Humanities Edge curatorial intern

  1. “https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lift_Every_Voice_and_Sing_(sculpture)#Replicas.
  2. Book page, “Sculpture by Augusta Savage, evocative of Negro music; commissioned by the New York World’s Fair,” from Harlem: Negro Metropolis,  1940  
  3. Augusta Savage (American, 1892–1962),  author
    E. P. Dutton & Company, Inc., New York City, publisher
    The Wolfsonian–FIU, Gift of Historical Design, New York City, XC2019.02.1.12
  4. The Body is Memory: An Exhibition of Black Women Artists.  Retrieved on May 1, 2023 at  [https://sites.smith.edu/afr111-f19/the-harp/ ]
  5. Claude McKay,  Harlem: Negro Metropolis, 1940.  A  narrative history of Harlem and its most notable African American residents.   The book includes photographs of works by Black artist Augusta Savage in the early 20th century.

MacNeil wrote a letter in 1923 advocating for

Miss Augusta Savage

who had been denied a scholarship because of the

color of her skin.  

Augusta Savage (left) with her portrait bust of James Weldon Johnson, another Black Harlem activist/leader and supporter of Augusta Savage. c. 1920s


“Savage arrived in New York (in 1921) with $4.60, found a job as an apartment caretaker, and enrolled at the Cooper Union School of Art [Ironically, this was 61 years after Abe Lincoln’s famous speech at Cooper Union against the expansion of slavery]. 

She completed the four-year course at Cooper Union in just three years.

During the mid-1920s when the Harlem Renaissance was at its peak, Savage lived and worked in a small studio apartment where she earned a reputation as a portrait sculptor, completing busts of prominent personalities such as W. E. B. Du Bois, Marcus Garvey,  [James Weldon Johnson and other NAACP leaders].

Savage was one of the first artists who consistently dealt with black physiognomy.”

Source: Smithsonian American Art Museum; https://americanart.si.edu/artist/augusta-savage-4269

In 1923, she had submitted a scholarship application to attend the inaugural artistic summer school at Fontainebleau, near Paris, France. (where Alden MacNeil would later study) 

W.E.B. DuBois, [prominent historian, sociologist, and Pan-Africanist civil rights activist] wrote a letter of support for her entry. 

Savage was awarded  a full scholarship

Unfortunately, the scholarship was  withdrawn  by the French selection committee on account of  her color reportedly, because white American students from Georgia would not share rooms with an African-American.[2] 

The rejection was reported in a number of newspapers.[2] The incident got press coverage on both sides of the Atlantic.  Since W. E. B. Du Bois had supported the application, Hermon A. MacNeil chose to write this letter. 

MacNeil was the sole member of the selection committee to disagree with the withdrawal of the scholarship. 

MacNeil began his career studying, traveling, and immersing himself in Native American culture.   Hermon one time had shared a studio in Paris with African-American artist Henry Ossawa Tanner

After writing his letter, MacNeil choose to invite Augusta Savage to study with him at the College Point studio.  Savage accepted!  Later in her life, she cited MacNeil as one of her influential teachers. 

Early Life of Augusta Savage

Augusta began making figures as a child, mostly small animals out of the natural red clay of her hometown.[2] Her father was a Methodist minister With over a dozen children.  His theology strongly opposed his daughter’s early interest in art. “My father licked me four or five times a week,” Savage once recalled, “and almost whipped all the art out of me.”[5] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Augusta_Savage

She continued to work in the US, and eventually gathered sufficient funding to study in France at the Académie de la Grande Chaumière from 1929, exhibiting at the Salon d’Automne in 1930, and at the Salon de Printemps and the Paris Colonial Exposition in 1931.[2]


Throughout the 1930s, Savage sculpted portrait busts of African American leaders, including NAACP leader James Weldon Johnson, who wrote the lyrics of the anthem  “Lift Every Voice and Sing.”  CLICK to hear NPRs 7 min lesson on this song.

A souvenir version of Savage’s 1939 sculpture The Harp, which was inspired by “Lift Every Voice and Sing.” 1939 World’s Fair Committee.  [See #3 below]

When the 1939 New York World’s Fair commissioned Savage to make a sculpture she produced a monumental work called Lift Every Voice and Sing.

World’s Fair officials changed the name creation to The Harp. “The strings of the harp are formed by the folds of choir robes worn by 12 African American singers,” Ikemoto explains. “Then, the soundboard of the harp is formed by the hand of God.” The singers, then, become instruments of God.  Five million visitors saw The Harp and it became one of the Fair’s most photographed objects — you can see more photos of it here.

Sixteen feet high, made of painted plaster, Ikemoto says it was destroyed — smashed by clean-up bulldozers — at the end of the fair.

Now, only pictures and many miniature souvenirs remain!

~  ~  ~  ~  ~  ~ 

SEE MacNeil’s 100 year old letter

with my transcription and comments BELOW

Letter from Hermon A. MacNeil to W. E. B. Du Bois

Retrieved from digitalcommonwealth.org/ on 3/23/1923. See citation below.

William E. B. DuBois

70   31th Ave
New York

My Dear Mr. Burghardt:

Yours just received regarding Miss Savage.  I have been entirely out of touch with the committee of which I am a member for several weeks as I have been more or less away and so this case of Miss Savage’s application I knew nothing about when it came up.

I am extremely sorry that a story of this kind should have gotten about as I know the gentleman of the committee are men of the broadest vision and are trying to do the very best possible.  It may be that her work was not very high in quality.  Whether that was the reason or conditions may be such for the traveling and living conditions that it would have been unpleasant for a colored person, I do not know.

Personally I have no greater joy than seeing the advancement of the colored race for I believe [in] that advancement will be the gradually era[c]ing of one of our very difficult problems here in the United States. I personally have friends of the colored blood whose friendship I prize as high as any of my associates.   In the meantime please believe me.

Sincerely yours,  H. A. MacNeil

Webmaster’s Comments:

MacNeil’s phrasing conveys the biases of white culture in phrases such as:

  • “It would have been unpleasant for a colored person” and
  • I have friends of the colored blood”

However, MacNeil was the only one sculptor taking public action and making opportunity for Augusta Savage to groom her many talents and mastery of art. 


  1. He gave her one year of experience in his studio;
  2. Which was much more than the “summer” she sought at Fontainebleau
  3. Later in her life, she claimed Hermon MacNeil as one of her teachers
  4. MacNeil’s choices contrast those of the committee.
  5. His actions transcend the racial biases of the 1920s
  6. MacNeil’s actions speak well for his love of sculpture and teaching sculptors.



  1. Letter from Hermon A. MacNeil to W. E. B. Du Bois

  2. Retrieved from digitalcommonwealth.org/ on 3/23/1923. 

    [ https://www.digitalcommonwealth.org/search/commonwealth-oai:9s162k540 ]

  3. NPR https://www.npr.org/2019/07/15/740459875/sculptor-augusta-savage-said-her-legacy-was-the-work-of-her-students
  4. “Till Victory Is Won: The Staying Power Of ‘Lift Every Voice And Sing'”   By Claudette Lindsay-Habermann; Heard on Morning Edition;
  5. https://hermonatkinsmacneil.com/?s=Tanner




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