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

Since 2010 this website has transported viewers through the years and miles between 100’s of Hermon MacNeil’s statues & monuments throughout the USA.

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

PERHAPS,  you walk or drive by one of his public sculptures daily. HERE, you can gain awareness of this great sculptor and his many works.  Maybe there are some near you! CHECK HERE!

Search Results for "Manuelito"

GOOD NEWS !   SURPRISE ~ Hermon MacNeil’s Chief Manuelito is back!

Yesterday’s post about MacNeil and Manuelito generated considerable interest and news from Gallup, NM.

Carolyn Milligan saw our Native American Day story and responded:

“The restored Manuelito has been installed.  Early tomorrow I’ll see and visit him. There are a few details to conclude but I will send you images of the restoration. Manuelito[‘s]  dignity and presence have been skillfully restored. You will be pleased with the result.”   … Give me a few days to reply to you and to send you images of Manuelito installed in his new location. You will then have before and after images of Manuelito to include on your website.

Artist Julian Scott’s portrait of Manuelito‑ Chief of the Navajos  [Source: americangallery.wordpress.com

In his seventy-five years of life, the Chief was driven, accused, abused, enraged, betrayed, wise, proud and a thousand other emotions that a leader might feel in a war of cultures.  All these experiences exacted a price from his life and energy. 

Harrison Lapahle’s website offers a brief history of Manuelito.  He describes the warrior’s closing years with a sorrow and painful candor that recalls the similar sorrow of his Navajo Nation. 

“He spent the last ten years of his life unhappy, certain that he had done the wrong thing by encouraging education, and by taking back all the livestock stolen by the young raiders of the tribe. Whisky was small comfort for his misery, but he drank it anyway. All around him his people still believed his words “Education is the ladder,” and they sent more and more of their children to school. They followed Manuelito even though he refused to lead them any longer.

A delegation of Navajo representatives who traveled to Washington, D.C., in 1874 to discuss the provisions of the 1868 treaty with President Ulysses S. Grant. The delegation consisted of (left to right, front row): Carnero Mucho, Mariano, Juanita (Manuelito’s wife), Manuelito, Manuelito Segundo, and Tiene-su-se Standing: “Wild” Hank Sharp (Anglo), Ganado Mucho, Barbas Hueros, Agent Arny, Kentucky Mountain Bill (Anglo), Cabra Negra, Cayatanita, Narbona Primero, and Jesus Arviso, interpreter.

He was a disheartened man, seventy-five years old in 1893, when he became very ill. Measles and then pneumonia brought the weakened old man to his deathbed.

In his fever, the years seemed to fade as he watched the sunlight play in small patches on the hogan wall. He saw the faces around him, his friends and family. He thought he heard Zarcillos Largos say, “Come, on the path of beauty you will restore your strength.” Manuelito closed his eyes in peace.

His death saddened many Navajos who had found strength in his strength. But his life had given his people a new trail to follow, and they walked it proudly, as Manuelito had walked.”  [ http://www.lapahie.com/manuelito.cfm ]

A wonderful surprise!  We await the return of the Chief to Gallup.

Seeing Chief Manuelito with his ‘dignity’ back, will prepare us all for the 21st Century.   

Uncle Hermon would smile.

 

"Moqui Runner", "Prayer for Rain"

"A Primitive Chant"

A MacNeil "Sun Vow"

"A Chief of the Multnomah"

 

Chief Manuelito of the Navajo sculpted by Hermon A. MacNeil in 1895 two years after the Chief's death at age 75.

This topic seems a strange fit for a website devoted to the art of Hermon Atkins MacNeil, an American Sculptor of the 19th and 20th centuries, born in Massachuesetts of Scottish descendents. 

Please, bear with me briefly while I take you on a journey toward today’s Native American Day story.  

STEP ONE:  An arrogant sense of Manifest Destiny often accompanied many 19th and 20th Century concepts of American culture, history, and pride.  An inescapable irony in our own 21st Century, is that Hermon MacNeil and many of his contemporary sculptors placed many Native American images at the center stage of the historical and allegorical sculptures of World Fairs from 1890 to 1915.  That is quite visible throughout this website.  I am beginning to find that MacNeil’s embrace of Native American themes in his sculpting, especially from 1895-1905, still offers us lessons more than a century later in understanding culture, anthropology and life values. 

STEP TWO:  Today is Native American Day in South Dakota, my home for the last 31 years.  I understand that California is the only other state celebrating a Native American Day.  “In 1989 the South Dakota legislature unanimously passed legislation proposed by Governor George S. Mickelson to proclaim 1990 as the “Year of Reconciliation” between Native Americans and whites, to change Columbus Day to Native American Day and to make Martin Luther King’s birthday into a state holiday. Since 1990 the second Monday in October has been celebrated as Native American Day in South Dakota.” [ Wikipedia: Native American Day:  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Native_American_Day ]  In April 1993, Governor George Mickelson, a friendly giant of a man, and eight civic leaders were killed in a tragic plane crash in Iowa.  His death was a great loss to this state and to hopes of Reconciliation.  We still observe the day, even if it is in a subdued fashion.

STEP THREEI am Daniel Neil Leininger, founding webmaster of HermonAtkinsMacNeil.com.  I am a Caucasian descendant of Scottish German stock. My maternal grandfather. Thomas Henry McNeil (1860-1932), was a cousin to Hermon Atkins MacNeil (1866-1947).  My mother, Ollie McNeil Leininger, always called Hermon MacNeil her “Uncle Hermon.” My middle name, Neil, was my mother’s gift.  It reminds me of my heritage.

STEP FOUR:  In researching the sculpture of MacNeil in recent years, I have developed a growing sense of “historical irony” in his placement of Native American images to symbolize the vitality of American expansion westward through his cultural era of Manifest Destiny.  His choice moves against the strong current of self-absorption in contemporary cultures, both his and ours.

MacNeil's sculpture design for the Award Medals at the Pan American Exhibitition, Buffalo, NY 1901 (reverse). Note the shields with South and North American continents

EXAMPLES 1-5: See photos above:

EXAMPLE 6:  MacNeil made a Pan American Exhibition Award Medallion with an indigenous North American and an indigenous South American sharing a Peace Pipe.  Probably a corrupted mix of Native images, but it is a allegory, a visually symbolic representation carrying a larger meaning.

THE STORY OF MacNEIL and CHIEF MANUELITO:

MacNeil never met Chief Manuelito.  Two years after his death, MacNeil made a statue of him using only a photograph supplied by trader C. N. Cotton. The year was 1895.  Thirty years earlier, Manuelito had survived the “scorched-earth” missions of the U.S. Army under Gen. James H. Carleton and Col. Kit Carson, the “Long Walk” (a 320 mile forced march of men women and children through the deserts) to Bosque Rodondo, and the imprisonment of Native peoples there for four years. 

Navajo Chief Manuelito - taken between 1868 and his death in 1893. He was a war Chief of the 1860. (photo Credit: ASU- Denver Public Library).

MacNeil made the statue  tribute out of available materials.  He built a wooden frame, a wire mesh surface and sculpted cement around it forming an eight foot two inch tall image of the Chief wrapped in a bright native blanket.   His techniques seem to mirror the many ‘staff plaster’ statues he made for the 1893 Chicago Worlds Fair.  He was visiting the southwest that summer with friends Hamlin Garland (writer) and C.F. Browne (artist) to experience the vanishing Native culture at the urging od E. E. Ayers and others.

As the story goes, after he finished he asked Cotton if the piece was acceptable.  Cotton left and brought in a group of older Native women to enter the canvas enclosure where MacNeil had setup a  open-air studio workshop.  After much weeping, the women, one of whom was Manuelito’s wife, came out obviously moved by the experience of being with the piece. 

See my previous stories on Manuelito and MacNeil, and MacNeil’s two friends, Hamlin Garland and C.F. Browne.

Edward E. Ayers was the  benefactor of the three artists  who urged them to make the trip.   A former member of the First California Cavalry Volunteers of the U.S. Army in AZ during the Civil War and the Native American oppressions of the 1860s,Ayers was stationed at the Cerro Colorado Silver Mine (now a ghost town) south of Tuscon in Pima County AZ.  He was in charge of 14 men who guarded the silver mine from robbers.  While there he happened on a copy of William H. Prescott’s Conquest of Mexico placed there by the mine’s owner Col. Samuel Colt, of revolver-fame. Ayers devoured the book repeatedly and began his life-long insatiable interest in Native American literature, manuscripts, and culture.  He became an American business magnate, who is “best remembered for the endowments of his substantial collections of books and original manuscripts from Native American and colonial-era history and ethnology, which were donated to the Newberry Library and Field Museum of Natural History in Chicago.”  [ Wikipedia ]   (Editors Note: Ayers passion for understanding and preserving Native American culture continues into the 21st Century  through the legacy of his estate now bequeathed to Newberry Library, Field Museum and related archieves.)

One hundred years after MacNeil make the trip and completed the piece, Joe Di Gregorio, (Gallup businessman and grocer), stepped in to rescue the Manuelito statue.  It was badly needing repair and being stored in a warehouse going up for sale.   Leslie Linchicum of the Albuquerque Journal relays this account in her March 2010 story:

“Longtime Gallup grocer Joe Di Gregorio and his wife, Christine, own the statue. They took custody after the building’s owner, in negotiations to sell to an out-of state buyer in 1983, turned to Di Gregorio and whispered, “Don’t let the bastards take the Indian.” Di Gregorio didn’t. He agreed to take custody of Manuelito and promised to keep him in Gallup.” [“Navajo Leader Stands Tall” Albuquerque Journal, March 11, 2010]

Now 116 years after MacNeil’s visit, McKinley County Fine Arts Commission in Gallup, NM is restoring the nearly 9 foot fragile artwork that MacNeil built in an outdoor tent.  “Carolyn Milligan, chairwoman of the … Commission, has estimated that it will cost $25,000 to $38,000 to restore the sculpture, which has deteriorated from a hundred years of rail yard soot, showers with a fire hose and a well-meaning but inept repainting.” 

Milligan continues, “The 1,000-pound piece is fragile, …. Wherever it stands, she said, it will probably attract crowds.”  “It’s really quite a commanding piece,” Milligan said. “And it’s for the people.”

BEST WORDS OF THE DAY: “Don’t let the bastards take the Indian.” MacNeil and Manuelito would probably smile to hear those words.  While virtually all of the ‘staff plaster’ sculptures of the World Fairs have crumbled to dust, Manuelito still stands tall. 

After all, he does belong to the people, centuries of people, both Native and otherwise. 

THAT’s WHY I BELIEVE THAT: MacNeil’s embrace of Native American themes in his sculpting from 1895-1905 still offers us lessons in culture, anthropology and life values for the 21st Century.

MORE HISTORY:

1.) For further irony read my previous stories of  the making of Hermon MacNeil’s 1895 sculpture representing Chief Manuelito of the Navajo or read history of this Chief of the Navajo starting here.

2.) William Wroth’s “Long Walk” to Bosque Redondo  also provides poignant insight into this period of the United States management of Native American peoples and the life of Chief Manuelito who was part of that “Long Walk” and signed the treaty of 1868 that sought to restore Navajo lands after the disastrous interventions of the US government.

3.) “The Long Walk”  A Ten (10) Part video story of the Navajo “Fearing Time” accounting atrocities against the Navajo people from 1863 to 1868.  Researched and produced with support of the George S. and Delores Dore’ Eccles Foundation and the Pacific Mountain Network.   Part 1Part 2Part 3Part 4Part 5Part 6Part 7Part 8 Part 9Part 10.

4.)  “The Long Walk”   For a Navajo perspective view this video by Nanebah, whose great-great grandmother survived “The Long Walk”.

5.) “300 Miles – Or Long Walk Of The Navajo – Richard Stepp”  For a musical tribute with an ‘American Indian Movement’ perspective.

6.) Leslie Linthicum, staff writer for the Albuquerque Journal,  gives a delightful article, “Navajo Leader Stands Tall”.   It offers historical irony from our 21st Century on attitudes toward Native American culture  through her story of the ‘management’ and ‘preservation’ of MacNeil’s iconic statue of Chief Manuelito.

Related posts:

  1. 1901 Pan-American Exposition – Buffalo, New York ~~ “The Rainbow City” (10.3)
  2. MacNeil Sculpture “Meets Me in St. Louis” (20)
  3. Expositions and World’s Fairs ~ Hermon A. MacNeil (15.6)
  4. MacNeil at the 1893 Columbian Exposition ~ ~ ~ THE CHICAGO YEARS ~ ~ (10.8)
  5. https://hermonatkinsmacneil.com/2011/03/26/1904-louisiana-purchase-exposition-saint-louis-worlds-fair/
Statue Adopted by McKinley County as a ‘Gallup Icon’

An improvised art creation of ‘Chief Manuelito’ made 115 years ago by Hermon Macneil at the request of trader/ merchant, C. N. Cotton, will be given a place of public honor by officials of Gallup, New Mexico.
MacNeil’s “Chief Manuelito” will soon be placed in honor at McKinley County Courthouse. [2010 Gallup Independent/ Cable Hoover]

In July, the statue’s owner, Joe DiGregiorio, met with McKinley County Commissioners and told them that he wanted to give the statue to the county because “of its importance to the history of Gallup.”

According to Carolyn Milligan (chair of the McKinley County Fine Arts Committee) the MacNeil “Chief Manuelito” statue has survived a century of weathering, several paintings and a variety of repairs.  The piece has been moved temporarily to Santa Fe for professional restoration. Milligan chaired the committee that recommended that the county commission recieve Joe DiGregiorio’s gift and restore the art piece properly.  She informed me recently of the following:

“I have seen interim reports of the conservation process and plan to visit the work in progress this coming Thursday. Manuelito will  soon reside in our new courthouse annex overlooking the plaza.”

MacNeil had made it one summer around the turn of the century when he was “doing the West,” for the Santa Fe Railroad. Old Man Cotton, an Indian trader, came in and wanted to talk to the sculptor. He showed Hermon a photograph of Manuelito (who had just died) and asked if he could work from it. Macneil said “of course.” He called Mr. Cotton in when he had finished, asking it the sculpture was OK. He said he would see. He let a Navajo woman into the room and closed the door. She came out a few minutes later, crying, Macneil said Cotton said it was OK ( the woman was Manuelito’s widow). http://www.gallupindependent.com/2007/june/062807gbda_gl%5Blndmrkchfmn.html

Bill Donovan, a correspondent for the Gallup Independent, tells us that the Chief Manuelito statue has greeted gallup citizens from his glass enclosure on the front of the Old Cotton Warehouse (Zanios Foods) north of the Sante Fe Railroad track for several decades.

The statue’s historical and cultural importance is evident to Zanios’ manager, Martin Romine: “He’s right outside of my office,” said Martin Romine, manager of Zanios. “People like to come and tell their children and grandchildren about Chief Manuelito. We have lots of chairs in the lobby and the public is welcome. The hours we are open are 8-5 on Monday through Friday, 8-4 on Saturday, and Zanios is closed Sunday. There are information posters on the wall around the sculpture, explaining the history of the building and the art piece.

An “icon” can be defined as an object of great attention and devotion, an image, a representation or picture of a sacred or sanctified personage.  Clearly, the “Chief Manuelito” has become a cultural focal point and gathering place for teaching heritage to generations of residents and visitors of the Gallup community.

We believe that Hermon A. MacNeil would be proud that his efforts have been so influential and inspiring over a century later.

Professor Carolyn Milligan has informed us that the 115 year old statue of Navajo Chief Manuelito will again be on public display in Gallup New Mexico. Sculpted by Hermon Atkins MacNeil in 1895, the 8 foot, 3 inch likeness of the respected Navajo warrior and leader has become a gathering point of cultural pride for citizens and visitors alike. We were recently contacted  by Carolyn Milligan, Associate Professor Emeritus, UNM in Gallup, NM, who is the Chair of the McKinley County Fine Arts Committee. She writes:

Our large sculpture is currently in Santa Fe undergoing a much-needed restoration. I have seen interim reports of the conservation process and plan to visit the work in progress this coming Thursday. Manuelito will  soon reside in our new courthouse annex overlooking the plaza.” She further states,I am contacting you because last year I recommended the County accept a gift from a local businessman who had offered a monumental sculpture of the historic Navajo warrior and later tribal leader, Manuelito. Hermon Atkins MacNeil created this posthumous memorial to Manuelito, commissioned by C.N.Cotton, a wealthy trader with the Navajo, Hopi and Zuni people and who is credited with establishing the national market for Navajo weaving. In the summer of 1895 MacNeil traveled to the Southwest in search of more American Indians. (He found a lot more here than in Chicago!) It was during that trip that MacNeil met Cotton and created the sculpture which then resided in a high niche at the front of Cotton’s store. For a century Manuelito was the visual marker for all travelling on the train that they had arrived in Gallup.”

In July 2010, the McKinley County published a “Request for Proposals (RFP’s) No. 2010-24  for Conservation, Restoration, Including Consultation on Maintenance Plan Moving and Installing for Herman Atkins MacNeil’s CHIEF MANUELITO Sculpture, Gallup, New Mexico”. The proposal describes the sculpture as follows:

http://www.gallupindependent.com/2007/june/062807gbda_gl%5Blndmrkchfmn.html”]”]

The sculpture is a larger than life, polychromed figure of Chief Manuelito (1818–1894), a respected Navajo warrior and leader. It is constructed of gypsum plaster over a wood and metal armature. It was created by Hermon Atkins MacNeil (1866–1947), a prominent sculptor, who created many cast bronze public monuments of historic figures in New York City, Chicago, and on the east pediment of the United States Supreme Court Building in Washington, D.C. MacNeil’s interest in Native American culture brought him to the Southwest as an artist commissioned by the railroad to produce artworks based upon the Native cultures of the Southwest. While in Gallup, MacNeil met C.N.Cotton, a prosperous Gallup trader, who is credited with creating the national market for Navajo rugs. Cotton and Manuelito had been friends. In 1895, (the year following Manuelito’s death from measles and pneumonia), Cotton commissioned MacNeil (and paid him in Navajo rugs) to create this dignified tribute to his friend Manuelito, shown draped in a chief blanket and wearing turquoise nuggets strung around his neck and suspended from his earlobes. The sculpture was planned for, and installed in a high niche on the east façade of the C.N.Cotton store and warehouse, an adobe building adjacent to the Santa Fe Railway tracks in downtown Gallup. For nearly a century the dignified figure of Manuelito was a familiar visual marker to all who traded with C.N. Cotton of his friendship with one of the Navajo’s most respected leaders but the figure also announced to those traveling from the east that they had arrived in Gallup, New Mexico.

Professor Milligan was very complimentary.  “I was very happy to discover your website on Hermon Atkins MacNeil. And I am even more curious about what inspired your interest in this remarkable sculptor.I have been researching Hermon Atkins MacNeil for several months now and I, too was impressed by our MacNeil sculpture when I was first asked to evaluate it close up and make a recommendation to the County regarding the offer of this wonderful gift.  It stands 8′ 3″ and is a polychromed image of Manuelito majestically wrapped in a patterned Chief’s blanket.”

We thank Chair Milligan, the Fine Arts Council, the County of McKinley, and the citizens of Gallup, NM for their pride, interest and commitment to the preservation of this early work of H. A. MacNeil.
More to come on this latest discovery.

The Hamlin Garland Memorial Highway ~

Brown County, South Dakota

Hamlin Garland https://mypoeticside.com/wp-content/uploads/gallery-images/e6845fc.jpeg 

Hamlin Garland Highway in Brown County South Dakota.
[Credit: Hamlin Garland Society]

 

 

​In June 1936, the Brown County Commissioners named a section of Brown County Highway 11, for a total of 10 miles, the “Hamlin Garland Memorial Highway.” This section travels past the homestead of Garland’s father, Richard, who homesteaded in 1881. In 1998, new signs were placed along this stretch of paved road noting the name of the highway. 

[ Hamlin Garland Society of Aberdeen, SD   http://www.garlandsociety.org/ ]

Hamlin Garland Highway in South Dakota.

GARLAND TOWNSHIP–This township was named after Hamlin Garland, a novelist, who lived in this area with his pioneer parents, Mr. and Mrs. Richard Garland.  The land south and west of Columbia [and Ordway] was immortalized by this writer in “Among the Corn Rows,” and “A Son of the Middle Border.”

SOURCE:  Information courtesy of Gene Aisenbrey ~ Hamlin Garland Society of Aberdeen, SD  Contact: garlandsociety@gmail.com      Copyright © 2015

Garland information on the web:

In 1895 HAMLIN GARLAND led Hermon MacNeil and Francis Brown to the four corners area (AZ, NM, CO, UT) to witness the Native American people and culture there.

  • Hamlin Garland Highway in South Dakota. [SOURCE:  Information courtesy of Gene Aisenbrey ~ Hamlin Garland Society of Aberdeen, SD ~ Contact: garlandsociety@gmail.com  Copyright © 2015 ]
  • Hamlin Garland Biography  (Wisconsin Authors and Their Works)

    • A Biography of three pages
    • One of Garland’s Grant Interviews with Julia Dent Grant (1826-1902) widow of General U. S. Grant
  • SD Historical Society: “Hamlin Garland’s South Dakota: History and Story” https://www.sdhspress.com/journal/south-dakota-history-9-3/hamlin-garlands-dakota-history-and-story/vol-09-no-3-hamlin-garlands-dakota.pdf
  • A brief Garland bio (Al Filreis)

~ A Poem by Hamlin Garland ~

“Do you fear the force of the wind,
The slash of the rain?
Go face them and fight them,
Be savage again.
Go hungry and cold like the wolf,
Go wade like the crane:
The palms of your hands will thicken,
The skin of your cheek will tan,
You’ll grow ragged and weary and swarthy,
But you’ll walk like a man!”

Their  adventure in 1895 led into Native settlements in Colorado, Arizona (Moqui, Navajo), New Mexico, and Utah:

  •  Hamlin Garland, led the tour to the southwest in the summer of 1895. MacNeil & Browne wanted to gain direct experience of American Indians to inform their art. What the trio found reflected in their respective painting, sculpture and writing.
  • MacNeil sculpted a cement statue of Chief Manuelito for trader C. N. Cotton under a tent in the dessert. His subsequent sculptures of Native Americans after that summer of 1895 continued his cultural interest.  That fascination began with his friendship and sculpting of Black Pipe, the Sioux warrior. He first met Black Pipe at the Buffalo Bill Wild West Show at the Chicago World’s Fair in 1893.  The Sioux modeled for MacNeil and later worked in his studio for over a year before MacNeil’s trip with Garland.
  • Charles Francis Browne was a painter and friend (his room mate in Paris) who accompanied Hermon MacNeil and the author.
  • Edward Everett Ayers was an art patron to both MacNeil and Browne.  He had been a Civil War Calvary officer stationed in the southwestern United States.  He became a lumberman who made a fortune selling railroad ties and telephone poles. He urged MacNeil to travel to see the vanishing West of the American Indian.  He became an arts benefactor whose art collections are now housed by the Art Institute of Chicago, as well as, the Newberry Library.    His copy of MacNeil’s “Moqui Runner” still graces the Newberry Library.

Related Posts:

 

“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:

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