WELCOME to the “Hermon A. MacNeil” — Virtual Gallery & Museum !

~ This Gallery celebrates my great Uncle, Hermon Atkins MacNeil an American classic sculptor of the Beaux Arts School.  He sculpted Native images and American history:  ~ World’s Fairs, statues, monuments, coins, and more…  ~ Over 300 stories (25 per page) in 10 pages. (Click on Next Page >> at bottom).  View thousands of photos from this virtual MacNeil Gallery.  It stretches from New York to New Mexico ~ Oregon to S. Carolina.   ~ 2016 marked the 150th Anniversary of Hermon MacNeil’s birth. ~ Hot-links ( lower right) lead to works by Hermon Atkins MacNeil.  ~~Do you WALK or DRIVE by MacNeil sculptures DAILY!  ~ CHECK OUT my Uncle Hermon’s works here!

Daniel Neil Leininger, webmaster

DO YOU walk by MacNeil Statues and NOT KNOW IT ???

Search Results for "macNeil Month"

HAPPY BIRTHDAY

UNCLE HERMON”

HE WAS BORN 158 YEARS AGO TODAY on

FEBRUARY  27TH,  1866

  158 CANDLES

His Life,  Story,  Artistry,  Heritage,  Legacy,

and Commemoration of American History

are ALL told here on:

HermonAtkinsMacNeil.com

Jo Davidson’s unique tribute bust of his teacher Hermon Atkins MacNeil. [bronze, 1945]

Thank You for your visit!  DNL

 

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Lady Liberty at the Flushing WWI Monument

 

Hermon’s  Valentines:

The feminine faces in Hermon MacNeil’s sculptures seem to share a similarity. 

Their features could be said to create an appearance that could be called:

Hermon’s Ideal

What do you think?

Here is a gallery of some images that have appeared on this website since 2010.

 

 

MORE  FACES  from  MacNeil’s mind . . .

 

“Intellectual Development” at Northwestern University, Patten Gymnasium in Evanston, Illinois, 1916.  Nicknamed by students as “Pat.”  Her companion was dubbed “Gym” as in Patten Gym.

==

“Pat” or “Intellectual Development” holds a scepter bearing the initial “N,” as in Northwestern, with the owl poised for flight in front of Patten Gym.

“Pat” (above) or “Intellectual Development” holds a scepter bearing the initial “N” as in Northwestern, with the owl poised for flight in front of Patten Gym.

Her companion figure: Jim (Gym) “Physical Development” to her right.

“Physical Development” or “Jim,” in front of Patten Gym at Northwestern University.

==

 

 

“Peace & Prosperity” at McKinley Memorial

==

Lady Liberty: World War Memorial at Flushing, NY

=

The 2 models for the Standing Liberty Quarter as Cecelia MacNeil published the story after Hermon’s death.

Two women modeled for the Liberty Standing Quarter: Doris Dascher Baum & Irene MacDowell, a neighbor and wife of Hermon’s tennis partner.

MacNeil’s entry to the ‘Pioneer Woman’ memorial at Ponca City, OK.

“Soldiers and Sailors Memorial” at Albany, New York.  The Civil War Monument

==

Charleston SC figure behind ‘Confederate Defenders’ at Harbor Point.

==

MacNeil’s “Confederate Defenders” photo signed to Charles Curren by Hermon  in 1931 =

CAROL BROOKS MACNEIL,  Hermon Atkins MacNeil (American, 1866-1947) No Date Bronzed plaster 14.5″ x 8″ x 7.5″ Signed: H. A. MACNEIL. Photo by JOEL ROSENKRANZ 1986 (#5430)

   

Happy Valentines Day  2024

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Every February  here at

https://hermonatkinsmacneil.com/

is MacNeil Month

BECAUSE . . .

Hermon Atkins MacNeil about the time of his Standing Liberty work.

February 27th, 1866

IS Uncle Hermon Atkins MacNeil’s Birthday is — 158 years ago, and

BECAUSE . . .

Thomas (Tom) Henry McNeil (1860 – 1932)

 

February 29th, 1866 . . .

IS THE Birthday of

My grandfather, Thomas Henry McNeil  who was born on a “Leap Day,”  — February 29th

Now 2024, will mark the  42nd “Leap Day” since Tom Henry McNeil’s birth 164 years ago. 

Review of Webmaster’s Activity

in 2023 (with hot links)

  1. Since MacNeil Month 2023, we have added 32 postings to the website here at hermonatkinsmacneil.com
  2. These have included over 130 photos, many are new
  3. Travelled to Ponca City, Oklahoma, and
  4. Visited the mansion of E. W. Marland there.
  5. Photographed “The Pioneer Woman” entry of Hermon MacNeil.
  6. photographed the entries of other sculptors.
  7. Photographed the Marland Studio there.
  8. Saw Jo Davidson’s marble sculptures of the Marland family.
  9. Purchased the bronze roundet “Black Pipe the Sioux at Six Teen Years”.

    An Example of Hermon MacNeil’s EARLIEST Sculpture …

  10. Jay Cline Postings:   #1 — #4
    1. #4 ~ Jay Cline: Praised by Many after His Passing

    2. #3 Jay CLINE ~ A kind Collector with a Big Heart!

    3. #2: An Evening with Jay H. Cline ~ 2010 ~ Expert on MacNeil’s S.L.Q. ~ Signed His 4th Edition!

    4. #1 ~ Jay H. Cline ~ Loved the Standing Liberty Quarter ~
       
  11. AND dozens of other updates to this website.

Examples of Hermon MacNeil’s FIRST and LAST Sculpture …

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“HAPPY BIRTHDAY

UNCLE HERMON”

HE WAS BORN 157 YEARS AGO TODAY

FEBRUARY 27TH, 1866

Hermon Atkins MacNeil (American, 1866-1947) CAROL BROOKS MACNEIL, N.D. Bronzed plaster 14 1/2″ x 8″ x 7 1/2″ Signed: H. A. MACNEIL. Photo by JOEL ROSENKRANZ 1986 (#5430)

THIS UNDATED CLAY PORTRAIT BUST OF

“CARRIE” BY HERMON

“Brooks-by-MacNeil” Portrait

closes Brooks~MacNeil Month ~~ on Feb. 27, 2023

Thanks, Joel Rosenkranz

This photo was included in an email to Jim Haas, MacNeil biographer, and myself from Joel Rosenkranz.

Hi Jim & Dan:

The upcoming exhibition on A.F Brooks in Kenilworth prompted me to go through photos I took in 1986 when I first visited descendants and purchased a variety of work including this portrait of Carol Brooks by Hermon.

It is plaster with a colored bronze surface.

I sold it in 1987 and have no idea where it is now but at least there is this record.

Best, Joel 

 

So on this the 157th Anniversary of Hermon MacNeil’s birth, this portrait seems an appropriate “Last Look” for our Brooks~MacNeil Month of 2023. 

Sculpted in clay, finished with bronze patina, the piece radiates a lot of love and care.  Bearing no date by Hermon clay-portrait Bust of Carol (Carrie) Brooks MacNeil 

NO DATE?  Made by her husband, Hermon MacNeil at an unknown date. (Webmaster suggests 1894 in the Summer of

WHAT Features  date it?

  • it appears to be a “young Carrie” Possibly, dating to her early days before marriage? 
  • clay, but finished lovingly in a bronze  patina;
  • but never cast in bronze, which is an expensive process.
  • seems to come from a period of a young sculptor, with more talent and more love than cash.
  • preserved in unknown hands for 80+ years
  • photographed and purchased by Joel Rosenkranz in 1986
  • then sold in 1987
  • NOW IN A PRIVATE COLLECTION, SOME WHERE, but
  • HERE on //HermonAtkinsMacNeil.com FOR ALL TO ENJOY

ALL Offered to you NOW as a  celebration of Carol “CARRIE” Brooks MacNeil.

AS OUR FINALE TO THIS

“2023 MACNEIL-BROOKS MONTH” 

 

On the 157th Anniversary of

“Uncle Hermon MacNeil’s birth

February 27th, 1866.

 

~  ~  ~  ~  ~  ~  ~ 

Appeal: 

If you have any history or insight about this piece

by Hermon MacNeil, PLEASE COMMENT HERE

or email us at HAMacNeil@gmail.com

UPDATE: 

In a later post I wrote the following regarding the White Rabbits reunion at Bass Lake, Indiana in 1894 and following:

Friendships and Romance.  While creating the these buildings and sculptures, there evolved a unique community of White City artists.  The collegiality extended through the years. Several friendships evolved into marriage.   Both Garland and MacNeil found their life partners in Larado Taft”s assistants, The White Rabbits.  A recurring community of Camp Life sprung up:

[1] “The spirit of playful camaraderie among the city’s artists was manifest in the first of several outings to Bass Lake, Indiana.  For two weeks in August 1894 Potter experienced invigorating camp life with the sculptors Lorado Taft, Carrie Brooks, Hermon Atkins MacNeil, Lew Wall Moore, and Edward and Laura Swing Kemeys, And the painters Charles Francis Browne, Carl Heber, and Menthe Svenden.  Between recreational activities and spirited antics, painters and sculptors alike engaged in plein-air oil sketching of the scenery.  Evenings were given over to art lectures illustrated by the stereopticon projected on a make shift screen consisting  of a sheet stretched between trees.  Such a good time was had that the artist arranged another merry outing for September.  There after the excursions became annual events.” 

[1] Julie Aronson, Bessie Potter Vonnoh: Sculptor of Women, Cincinnati Art Museum: Ohio University Press; Athens, Ohio. 2008, p. 31.

Posted previously HERE

 

Related posts:

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  4. February 27, 2021 – We”ll Unveil the Newly Discovered Portrait Bust of Hermon A. MacNeil by Jo Davidson on Hermon’s Birthday (6) ~~ MacNeil Month – February 27, 2021 ~~ FIFTH Story…
  5. 2023 “MacNeil~Brooks” Month ~~ Post #1 (6)  ‘MacNeil Month’ becomes ‘MacNeil~Brooks Month’ in 2023 Each February is…
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Hermon Atkins MacNeil

MacNeil Month has FOUR Pillars: 

<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<|>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>

The Smithsonian Institute archives contain this photo of MacNeil’s Lincoln standing.

  Abraham Lincoln

is “Pillar #3

Born on February 12, 1809

& Sculpted by

Hermon Atkins MacNeil

in 1914″

MacNeil’s “Lincoln Lawyer” Bust was modeled from a now extinct piece known as the

Standing Lincoln

right =========>

The Smithsonian Institute Archives contain the photo (at right) of a plaster statue of Abraham Lincoln made by Hermon MacNeil for a competition in 1914 sponsored by the Art Commission of Illinois seeking a statue for the City of Springfield, Illinois.

MacNeil’s entry did not win the competition, but he later adapted the piece into a bust.  He then duplicated it into eight (8) castings made at Roman Bronze Works in NYC

MacNeil’s original plaster statue of Lincoln (standing) very likely has been lost to the ages.  He sculpted it in 1914 for a competition of the Art Commission of Illinois.  They sought a statue for the City of Springfield.  After the commission chose another sculpture, MacNeil worked with Roman Bronze Works to cast 8 Lincoln busts from the original standing  Lincoln. 

The story of MacNeil’s adaptation of his “Standing Lincoln” plaster into the “Lincoln Lawyer” bust can be found by clicking below:

MacNeil’s “Lincoln Lawyer” Bust modeled from Standing Lincoln

Many of those “Lincoln Lawyer” busts have been located and documented here on HAM ( https://hermonatkinsmacneil.com/ )  

POSTINGS OF HERMON MacNEIL’s “LINCOLN LAWYER”

 

<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<|>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>

~ Pillars Three & Four consist of ~     (2 Birthdays and 2 US Presidents that Hermon sculpted had February Birthdays)

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Hermon A. MacNeil

The FOURTH Pillar of MacNeil Month 2022 is

Hermon Atkins MacNeil’s

General George Washington 

MacNeil’s George Washington

has not always been treated kindly. 

Vandals in June 2020 left their angry marks on

George Washington. 

Both Hermon MacNeil’s and Alexander Stirling Calder’s statues were covered with RED sploches of HATE.  The following post from  June 30, 2020


 

 

 

 

 

 

^ ^ ^ ^  ^  ^  ^ ^

In 1974 Cecelia MacNeil decried  the condition of Hermon’s 1916 marble statue.(Above)

Six decades of  careless sandblasting and harsh cleaning left  the Commander  looking

more like a  LEPER  than

commander in Chief of the American Revolution. 

<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<|>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>

 

 

Fortunately the Washington Arch and Washington Park

continues into its SECOND CENTURY

as a gathering place and a celebration place for

New Yorkers to call out to

the Nation and World.

“Washington” in evening light

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Hermon Atkins MacNeil

MacNeil Month has FOUR Pillars  Click below on 1-4 for MORE:     (2 Birthdays and 2 US Presidents that Hermon sculpted had February Birthdays)

  1. Hermon Atkins MacNeil was born on February 27, 1866
  2. Thomas Henry McNeil,  was born February 29, 1860 (his cousin & my grandfather)
  3. Abraham Lincoln born on February 12, 1809 & sculpted by MacNeil in 1909
  4. George Washington born on February 22, 1732 & sculpted by MacNeil in 1916

SO we have made each February since 2010 into our …

“MacNeil Month”

 ~ SO WELCOME TO “MacNeil Month 2022” ~

1. “Pillar One:  Hermon Atkins MacNeil

“A memorial for Hermon Atkins MacNeil is unnecessary, even wasteful.  Preserve America and one preserves Hermon Atkins MacNeil.  The two are one in the same.  Restore all art before it is destroyed.  And remember the name of Hermon Atkins MacNeil for what it represents.”   Cecelia MacNeil  1   (AJ-3, p. 35).

This website is a “Digital Museum” of the Art of Hermon MacNeil.

This website is a “Digital History” of the lives of Hermon & Carol Brooks MacNeil.

This website is a “Digital Showplace” of a 1,000+ images of .

2. “Pillar Two: Thomas Henry McNeil

My connection to Hermon MacNeil comes through Pillar Two: my grandfather Thomas Henry McNeil.

My mother, Ollie McNeil Leininger was the second daughter of Thomas Henry and Willie Maude Black McNeil.  She gifted me with the middle named “Neil.”  Her father instructed all his children to call Hermon — “Uncle Hermon” as a courtesy of respect for their elder second cousin.

So, I inherited the name “Neil and a “Great Uncle Hermon MacNeil.”  A few ways that I have been honoring my heritage include:

Daniel Neil Leininger and Donna, (his Lass of 50 years), on the ‘Royal Mile’ walking to the Edinburgh Castle for the Military Tatoo of 2014.

Closing Finale of the Royal Edinburgh Military Tatoo of 2020

<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<|>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>

Stay Tuned for the next story of

Pillars 3 and 4.

3. “Pillar Three:  Abraham Lincoln

Born on February 12, 1809 & sculpted by MacNeil in 1909″

<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<|>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>

4. “Pilar Four: General George Washington

Born on February 22, 1732 & sculpted by Macneil in 1916″

<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<|>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>

SOURCES:

  1. Cecelia MacNeil with Dr. Allen Nestle. “Sculptor Americanus: Hermon Atkins MacNeil”.   (First in a Series of Three), The Antiques Journal, April 1974,  pp. 10-13, 54.
  2. Cecelia MacNeil with Dr. Allen Nestle. “Sculptor Americanus: Hermon Atkins MacNeil”.   (Second in a Series of Three), The Antiques Journal, May 1974,  pp. 28-31.
  3. Cecelia MacNeil with Dr. Allen Nestle. “Sculptor Americanus: Hermon Atkins MacNeil”.   (Third in a Series of Three), The Antiques Journal, June 1974,  pp. 32-35, 51.
  4. Lynn H. Burnett. (Editor’s Comments:)“Hermon Atkins MacNeil in Historical Perspective”.  The Antiques Journal April 1974, pp. 4, 5, 48.

Related posts:

  1. The death of Carol Brooks MacNeil and Hermon MacNeil’s remarriage. (5) Cecelia W. Muench MacNeil In 1944 Carol Louise Brooks MacNeil…
  2. MacNeil Month 2022 ~ Week 1 ~ Cecelia MacNeil’s alarm for the Washington Arch in 1974. (4) Twenty-seven years after Hermon MacNeil’s death,  Cecelia Weick MacNeil, his…
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Part 3 of

“Sculptor Americanus”

citing Memories of

Hermon A. MacNeil

by Cecelia W. M. MacNeil

~  The Antiques Journal, June 1974 ~

 

Page 32 of Cecelia MacNeil with Dr. Allen Nestle. “Sculptor Americanus: Hermon Atkins MacNeil”. (Third in a Series of Three), The Antiques Journal, June 1974, pp. 32-35, 51.

Cecelia MacNeil in her third article in her series on Hermon MacNeil offers closing comments from her days with the sculptor.

The Narrative of her article repeats much that is contained in the “AUTOBIOGRAPHICAL SKETCH” dictated by MacNeil in 1943.  The stock photos accompanying the text are illustrative examples.  All predate the 1970s and are certainly not digital HD images as normally used on this cite.

As mentioned in the previous post, Cecelia was present when Hermon dictated these stories to his secretary, Marie Mutschler, to write down.  

She then typed his story into a  document containing 13 pages of single-spaced text.  My mother had a copy of that AUTOBIOGRAPHICAL SKETCH.  I believe she got that from my Aunt Jane, probably after Hermon’s death.  A copy was placed in the “MacNeil Papers” at the Cornell University Library Archives.  I visited there in 2014.

Page 33 of Cecelia MacNeil with Dr. Allen Nestle. “Sculptor Americanus: Hermon Atkins MacNeil”. (Third in a Series of Three), The Antiques Journal, June 1974, pp. 32-35, 51.

These were photocopies (xeroxes) of the original typing.  I typed the document into a digital file.  That made it easily retrievable, easily cited, and searchable. 

Cecelia MacNeil’s articles all seem to rely on this document, especially the 2nd and 3rd issues.  She and Dr. Nestle also cite the article noted in my post of Feb. 3rd, 2022. (Holden, Jean Stansbury (October 1907). “The Sculptors MacNeil“. The World’s Work: A History of Our Time XIV: 9403–9419.) [Retrieved from GOOGLE eBooks]  

The incident of Hermon rummaging in his studio workroom to fine some of his medals won at world fairs is quoted there by Holden. 

Another interview that seems to be drawn from is published by J. Walker McSpadden in Famous Sculptors of America published in 1924, pp. 307-326.  

Page 34 of Cecelia MacNeil with Dr. Allen Nestle. “Sculptor Americanus: Hermon Atkins MacNeil”. (Third in a Series of Three), The Antiques Journal, June 1974, pp. 32-35, 51.

Yet, in the years that Cecelia cared for both MacNeils followed by the years she and Hermon were married, she probably heard some of these stories directly from Hermon. 

Cecelia has done a faithful job of renewing the name of “Hermon Atkins MacNeil” in an era of forgotten Beaux Arts sculpture of the 1970s.

She closes the 3rd piece with thw story of the “STANDING LIBERTY QUARTER” and its TWO living models that MacNeil drew from in making.  

Doris Doscher Baum, and Irene MacDowell were both models that posed for MacNeil’s conception of Lady Liberty.  As discussed by the late Jay Cline in his book, Standing Liberty Quarters, both women can claim the honor of being the model for the Standing Liberty quarter.  Cline spent an entire lifetime and career dealing in these beautiful examples of American Renaissance coinage.

Page 35 of Cecelia MacNeil with Dr. Allen Nestle. “Sculptor Americanus: Hermon Atkins MacNeil”. (Third in a Series of Three), The Antiques Journal, June 1974, pp. 32-35, 51.

 

CECELIA MAC NEIL’S CONTRIBUTION TO MacNeil Month 2022.

In my opinion, the greatest donation to our further understanding of Hermon MacNeil is shared in her first article in the series.  

The story of “The Sun Vow” and her 12 birthday visit to see it.   What a Birthday surprise.  Her father’s visit to  the Metropolitan Museum of Art introduced the name of Hermon MacNeil.  That familiarity probably chartered her path to being engaged as a home-nurse to both MacNeil Sculptors. Then developed a life phase where she and   Hermon were both widowed and joined in marriage.

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  1. MacNeil Month 2022 ~ Week 1 ~ Cecelia MacNeil’s alarm for the Washington Arch in 1974. (4) Twenty-seven years after Hermon MacNeil’s death,  Cecelia Weick MacNeil, his…
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Every February is MacNeil Month here,

 … at http://HermonAtkinsMacNeil.com …  Because:

  • Hermon Atkins MacNeil was born on February 27, 1866
  • Thomas Henry McNeil, (his cousin & my grandfather), was born February 29, 1860
  • Two US Presidents that Hermon sculpted had February Birthdays:

    • Abraham Lincoln on February 12, 1809
    • George Washington on February 22, 1732
    • SO we have made each February into our “MacNeil Month”

SO WELCOME TO “MacNeil Month 2022” ~ Our 12th since 2010

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“Sculptor Americanus”

citing Memories of

Hermon A. MacNeil

by Cecelia W. M. MacNeil

~ Part  2, The Antiques Journal, May 1974 ~

 

Cecelia MacNeil credits the following statement to Adolph Block:

“… all that Hermon Atkins MacNeil

lacks

to acquire fame

is a good biographer.”

Adolph Block  should know. He too was a sculptor.     (more)

He studied sculpture with Hermon MacNeil, and Alexander Stirling Calder, both of whom sculpted the two George Washington statues on the Arch.  He studied also with Edward McCartan, another student and studio assistant of Hermon MacNeil.  At the time that Cecelia credits the above quote, Mr. Block was then the editor of The National Sculpture Review, a post he held for many years.

Jo Davidson’s portrait bust of Hermon draped in MacNeil Tartan. This unique piece was made in 1945 at Hermon’s home then cast in bronze.

Block also wrote of Hermon — words that Cecelia quotes saying: “Adolph Block captured Hermon’s spirit in The National Sculpture Review, writing of him with love (a consistent feeling of all who knew Hermon):

“His youth was spent on his father’s farm in fundamental, frugal, and beautiful New England.  In his veins flowed the same kind of blood that pumped through the hearts of  Robert Burns and Sir Walter Scott, love of life and a vivid imagination born of Scotland’s bonnie brooks, green hills, and rugged rocky shores.

Handsome, he possessed a warm heart, a dry sense of humor, a great talent, the courage of his convictions, and tremendous drive.  Ambitious and industrious, his large eyes were a tornado of activity — he studied, he taught, he created, in whatever order opportunity presented itself. 2

In the second of these articles, Cecelia begins by describing the June day in 1943 when Hermon began dictating his AUTOBIOGRAPHICAL SKETCH to his secretary.

“My memories and reminiscences of Hermon are still pure and unprecipitated (sic) by chemicals, as his sculptures have become.”  She adds: “I was nursing him through a prolonged attack of tachycardia.  He was feeling much better and was in a jovial mood.”  Cecelia MacNeil, June 1971; (AJ-2, p.28)

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Cecelia Weick Muench, R.N.

Home Care Nurse

Years before Cecelia W. Muench became Cecelia MacNeil she was the Home Care Nurse not only for Carol Brooks MacNeil, but also for Hermon MacNeil. 

This was revealed in the TIMELINE drawn from evidence in her three articles series “Sculptor Americanus.”  1,2,3

The following Facts are reported in these articles:

  • Cecelia was present in the MacNeil home for conversations with Hermon MacNeil. 
  • Hermon called his secretary, Marie Mutschler, into the room to take notes
  • The next four pages of the May 1974 article by Cecelia describe Hermon as he told stories of his life.

In my research at the Cornell Library Archives, the “MacNeil Papers”  contain an eleven page typed document entitled “AUTOBIOGRAPHICAL SKETCH – HERMON ATKINS MACNEIL”:

  • The voice narrating this document is that of Hermon MacNeil.
  • On page 11, he ends his Autobiography with two sentences saying:

“In short, I feel that I have had a very fortunate life, living as someone said on ‘THE GOLDEN AGE OF SCULPTURE’.  As I write this in June, 1943, with the world in a terrific struggle it would seem to be true enough for my span of life will not last for the next revival of sculpture.”   

Here Hermon closes his Autobiographical Sketch.

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MacNeil Timeline 1940-1947

Changes and Losses in Hermon’s closing years of life

1940  November 19 —  Dedication of the last monumental sculpture of Hermon MacNeil’s career

  • “The Pony Express” dedicated in St. Joseph, Missouri

1943 June   — Hermon MacNeil dictated his AUTOBIOGRAPHICAL SKETCH to Marie Mutchler, his personal secretary.

  • Cecelia W. Muench, RN, his home care nurse, was present
  • She nursed him through a prolonged attack of tachycardia in June 1943
  • Cecelia also nursed Carol Brooks MacNeil in the MacNeil Home.  She had a front row seat to Hermon’s lived-grief over the last months of his “Carrie.” 

1944 June 22 —  Death of Carol Brooks MacNeil

  • As Carol’s condition worsened, her needs exceeded the home-care options of the day. 
  • Carol was admitted to the Jamacia (Queens) Hospital dying there shortly after.

1945    — Hermon MacNeil’s second marriage to Cecilia W. Muench, R.N. also a widow

1946 February 4Death of Dr. S. Meredith Strong – “The Cowboy Doctor” whose stallion, “Poncho Villa,” was Hermon s model for “The Pony Express” statue. 

1947 October 2 — Death of Hermon MacNeil  

1947 October 18 — MacNeil Will filed in Probate

 

~~~~~~~~~~~

SOURCES:

  1. Cecelia MacNeil with Dr. Allen Nestle. “Sculptor Americanus: Hermon Atkins MacNeil”.   (First in a Series of Three), The Antiques Journal, April 1974,  pp. 10-13, 54.
  2. Cecelia MacNeil with Dr. Allen Nestle. “Sculptor Americanus: Hermon Atkins MacNeil”.   (Second in a Series of Three), The Antiques Journal, May 1974,  pp. 28-31.
  3. Cecelia MacNeil with Dr. Allen Nestle. “Sculptor Americanus: Hermon Atkins MacNeil”.   (Third in a Series of Three), The Antiques Journal, June 1974,  pp. 32-35, 51.
  4. Lynn H. Burnett. (Editor’s Comments:)“Hermon Atkins MacNeil in Historical Perspective”.  The Antiques Journal April 1974, pp. 4, 5, 48.

     

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Twenty-seven years after Hermon MacNeil’s death,  Cecelia Weick MacNeil, his second-wife, wrote a series of three articles which she entitled:

“Sculptor Americanus:

HERMON ATKINS MACNEIL”

Cecelia MacNeil, RN (1945). Born Cecelia Weick in 1897. She served as a nurse in WWI in the European theater. She married Karl Weick in about 1920.

 

Cecelia opens the first of three articles with memories of her 12th Birthday in 1909. 

Born in 1897, Cecelia Weick told the story of first the day that she ever heard the name of “Hermon Atkins MacNeil”  

NOTE:  Thirty-seven years later … Hermon would ask her to marry him.  

As a birthday surprise, her father took her to the Metropolitan Museum of Art.  Ascending into the American Wing, they sat down on a bench near MacNeil’s sculpture group of “The Sun Vow.”  Sixty-four years later, Cecelia described their visit to that sculpture this way:

 

Owen Schweers, my own grandson, in front of “The Sun Vow” that Cecelia Weick and her father saw on her 12th Birthday. He visited the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City about 110 Years after Cecelia. That particular casting of MacNeil’s statue was placed there by Daniel Chester French.

“The Sun Vow portrays two Indians, elder and younger, chief and future brave, grandfather and grandson.  The grandfather, his body still subtle and strong, is weary just the same. The viewer knows that the chieftain’s feathered head-dress … will never again be worn.  The old Indian holds this symbol of authority on his lap as he presses the young Indian to him.  The grandchild holds an arrowless bow, symbolizing the celebration of coming of age in the in Indian lore but transcending the culture of any age.  For when the young brave is able to shoot an arrow into the son, far enough away so that its decent to earth passes unseen, then he has attained manhood. 

After at least five minutes of silence my father commented.

‘Ceil, the man who created this work is surely one of the greatest American Sculptors. Never, never forget his name.’

I am still a romantic.  My father’s words were to be part of my destiny.  37 years later I married Hermon Atkins MacNeil.”

 

Sculptor AMERICANUS

CECELIA opened her first of three articles with those memories of her 12th Birthday.   Continuing, she describes her sculptor, hero, and sunset-partner with the following phrases:

The Sculptor:

  • MODESTY was so much a part of Hermon MacNeil
    • Will my words of praise cause his spirit to stir ?
    • Will my words cause his truly American soul to BLUSH?
  • A successful bronze gives the sculptor a few steps toward immortality.
  • A Creator of Memorials, Coins and Medals
  • Time has made almost Hermon a forgotten American type …
    • an extinct species
    • whose works are ravaged by time, corrosion, spoilage …
  • Hermon loved sculpting American Indians in their naturalness and beauty.
  • Cecelia cites Jean Stansbury Holden’s description of Hermon in 1907 as:
    • a boyish, slender, medium height, with large eyes that meet you with a twinkle
    • a serious sculptor when working …
    • without pretense of his accomplishments …
    • When keeps his medals from:
      • Chicago Exposition – 1893;
      • Paris Exposition – 1900
      • Pan-American Exposition, Buffalo, NY – 1901
      • Louisiana Purchase Exposition, St Louis – 1904
      • and numerous others
      • IN DRAWERS in his studio, and rubs off some of the tarnish before showing them
      • TRULY without Pretension or POMP.

AMERICANUS: 

Quoting Jean Stansbury Holden she adds,

“While his work shows this variety in subject and treatment, one quality runs through it all; Whatever he touches is, in its very essence American; it smacks of the soil.” 1

Mrs. MacNeil then suggests:

American history can be studied by totaling up Hermon’s works.  This can be seen by mentioning a mere scattering of examples — The Pony Express, McKinley, The Pilgrim Fathers, Pere Marquette, Ezra Cornell, George Rogers Clark, the eastern pediment of the United States Supreme Court Building — and the most familiar and relevant of all, the marble of Washington as Commander-in-Chief, which along with Stirling Calder’s figure of Washington as President, graces Stanford White’s Washington Arch in Greenwich Village.  (bold added).

Source: Cecelia MacNeil with Dr. Allen Nestle. “Sculptor Americanus: Hermon Atkins MacNeil”. (First in a Series of Three), The Antiques Journal, April 1974, p. 54.

BUT then Cecelia sounded a shrill alarm for the Washington Arch.  Pointing out 1974 photos showing decades of decay.   Air pollution.  traffic (Cars, buses) traveled through the arch for over 75 years.   Cleaning by abrasive sandblasting and eroded the soft marble of both statues by MacNeil and Calder.

Figure 6 shows the toll on MacNeil’s statue of Washington’s pitted face.

She writes:

“Washington’s nose has been carelessly damaged by thoughtless sandblasting (figure 6).   Sandblasting marble!  Now th first President resembles a leper. Aldolph Block, former student of Hermon, reknowned (sic) president of the National Sculpture Society (as Hermon was on two different occasions) despairs over the disaster to this historical landmark.  Smog from the air, vandalism, time, such factors can be expected.  But destruction such as Washington has suffered, accidental as it may have been, seems all too contemporary.”  

Over the years Cecelia MacNeil wrote many letters to the responsible officials seemingly hopeless battle.”  Her complaints as well as Mr. Block’s were “for all intents and purposes, ignored. 

Cecelia shares her familiarity with her late partner by suggesting:

1916 Photo of the installation of the MacNeil statue. Thia appears to have the statue sitting in the right hand leg of the Arch. The left leg is where it was permanently installed. Photo Credit: John Gomez, NYC. [ https://i0.wp.com/hermonatkinsmacneil.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/07/MacNeil-Washington-Arch-1.jpeg?resize=799%2C1024&ssl=1 ]

“One can NOT imagine Hermon and his fellow sculptors ignoring Washington’s face.  In no time at all a group of them, most of whom worked with Hermon, would have a scaffold up.  A roster would include (Phillip) Martiny, Daniel Chester French, Augustus St. Gaudens, Alexander Stirling Calder, giants all.  I can see Hermon chewing on a small cigar, making jokes.”         

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

This concludes

Part 1 of MacNeil Month.

In Part 2 we will examine the

History and RESTORATION of the Washington Arch and the

two Washington Statues.

~~~~~~~~~~~

READ MORE:   History of Washington Arch by New York Architecture

~~~~~~~~~~~

FOOTNOTES:

Traffic in the 1950s

  1. Holden, Jean Stansbury (October 1907). “The Sculptors MacNeil“. The World’s Work: A History of Our Time XIV: 9403–9419. [Retrieved from GOOGLE eBooks]
  2. Cecelia MacNeil with Dr. Allen Nestle. “Sculptor Americanus: Hermon Atkins MacNeil”.   (First in a Series of Three), The Antiques Journal, April 1974,  pp. 10-13, 54.
  3. Cecelia MacNeil with Dr. Allen Nestle. “Sculptor Americanus: Hermon Atkins MacNeil”.   (Second in a Series of Three), The Antiques Journal, May 1974,  pp. 28-31.
  4. Cecelia MacNeil with Dr. Allen Nestle. “Sculptor Americanus: Hermon Atkins MacNeil”.   (Third in a Series of Three), The Antiques Journal, June 1974,  pp. 32-35, 51.
  5. Lynn H. Burnett. (Editor’s Comments:)“Hermon Atkins MacNeil in Historical Perspective”.  The Antiques Journal April 1974, pp. 4, 5, 48.

~~~~~~~

Related posts:

WASHINGTON ARCH in the 1920’s

  1. INDEPENDENCE DAY Images ~ from Hermon A. MacNeil (5) Here are a few images of  Independence from Hermon Atkins…
  2. Washington Statues “Bleeding” with Red Paint! MacNeil & Calder works defaced. (5) We were saddened to hear that “red paint” was splattered…
  3. The death of Carol Brooks MacNeil and Hermon MacNeil’s remarriage. (5) Cecelia W. Muench MacNeil In 1944 Carol Louise Brooks MacNeil…
  4. Happy (actual) Birthday, Mr. Washington! ~~~ ~~~ Visit New York City for MacNeil Month ~~~ (#8) (4) George Washington  February 22, 1732 Pictured below is Hermon A. …
  5. MacNeil’s “General George Washington” shows up on “Forgotten New York” virtual tour. (4) On this 281st anniversary of the birth of George Washington…
  6. Senator Bernie Sanders Calls for a Political Revolution at Washington Arch. (4) NEW YORK CITY — In Washington Square Park last evening,…

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MacNeil Month 2022 will feature stories of

“Sculptor Americanus:

Hermon Atkins MacNeil”

In 1974 Cecelia W. MacNeil authored three articles with Dr. Allen Nestle, entitled “Sculptor Americanus: Hermon Atkins MacNeil”.  They appeared in the April, May and June issues of The Antiques Journal.   Cecelia’s stories of Hermon MacNeil will be featured in the February 2022 postings for

MacNeil  MONTH

Hermon and Cecelia MacNeil in 1945.

Hermon and Cecelia married in 1945.  Both had been widowed several years before.

Hermon & Carol had been married for forty-nine years when she died.  My story of the death of Carol Brooks MacNeil was posted HERE.)   

Hermon’s second marriage in 1945 was also Cecelia’s second marriage.  

They sent out a Christmas card photo greeting to family and friends.

Two 2nd Marriages

Hermon married Cecilia W. Muench in 1945.  Cecelia was nearly 30 years younger than Hermon.  Both of them had been recently widowed.

After serving in the World War, Cecelia Muench had married and continued her career as a RN.  In 1940 a snapshot of her life was captured in the 1940 U.S. Census.  She was 43 years old living in Queens, New York, with Karl, her husband, two daughters, Dorothy (18), Sarah (17) and a son, Karl (13).   Her mother, Anna Weick also lived with the family. 

How Cecilia Weick met Hermon MacNeil

Cecilia Weick first heard the name of “Hermon Atkins MacNeil” in 1909 on her 12th birthday.  To celebrate, her father took her to the Metropolitan Museum of Art.  Ascending into the American Wing, they sat down on a bench near MacNeil’s sculpture group of “The Sun Vow.”  Sixty-four years later, Cecelia described that sculpture this way: 

My own grandson, Owen, in front of “The Sun Vow” at Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City.

The Sun Vow portrays two Indians, elder and younger, chief and future brave, grandfather and grandson.  The grandfather, his body still subtle and strong, is weary just the same. The viewer knows that the chieftain’s feathered head-dress … will never again be worn.  The old Indian holds this symbol of authority on his lap as he presses the young Indian to him.  The grandchild holds an arrowless bow, symbolizing the celebration of coming of age in the in Indian lore but transcending the culture of any age.  For when the young brave is able to shoot an arrow into the son, far enough away so that its decent to earth passes unseen, then he has attained manhood. 

After at least five minutes of silence my father commented.

“Ceil, the man who created this work is surely one of the greatest American Sculptors. Never, never forget his name.”

I am still a romantic.  My father’s words were to be part of my destiny.  37 years later I married Hermon Atkins MacNeil Cecelia MacNeil with Dr. Allen Nestle. “Sculptor Americanus: Hermon Atkins MacNeil”.   (First in a Series of Three), The Antiques Journal, April 1974,  pp. 10-13, 54

Hermon and Cecelia were married in 1945 and sent this Christmas Greeting out to friends and family.  (The previous photo of the couple is a detail crop of this card.)

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AT  LAST,

the UNVEILING of the

75-YEAR-OLD

PORTRAIT BUST OF

HERMON A. MACNEIL

BY Jo Davidson

ON THIS THE 155TH ANNIVERSARY OF  MacNEIL’s  BIRTH

As was Jo’s custom, the front plate is signed by the sitter, H.A.MacNeil.

The back is signed by the sculptor, as hundreds of such portrait busts

all over the United States and the world

bear the same signature of this sculptor and a date,

Jo Davidson 1945

Uncle Hermon A. MacNeil

has come home

 to this his website,

 TODAY 

February 27, 2021

the 155th Anniversary of his Birth

on February 27, 1866.

 ~. ~. ~. ~. ~. ~. ~. ~. ~. ~. ~. ~

I’ve told four “Hermon & Jo” Stories in MacNeil Month 2021

Here’s the fifth one …

Early in 1945…

Jo Davidson

went back to College Point and the Studio of

 Hermon A. MacNeil

where Jo first learned studio work

from the atlier of Hermon MacNeil,

with Henri Crenier and John Gregory 

teasing him mercilessly as the studio boy

While Hermon MacNeil showed Jo through

the menial chores of the studio,

how to work clay, build an armature, make a mold,

and see the stages of making a plaster model

to become a piece that will be cast in bronze.

And thereby flame Jo’s natural talent & burning desire

to become a  sculptor.

And through his gentle personality and kindness,

MacNeil showed Jo respect

and filled some of Jo’s early void of approval

being a FATHER FIGURE unlike Jo’s own Father,

and MacNeil also affirmed Jo’s early exhibit FIGURE of

“David”, the Jewish Boy, fighting an invisible GOLIATH.

And then decades later when

Jo Davidson’s fame and career

had eclipsed even that of MacNeil

or any of his altier assistantsJohn Gregory or Henri Crenier

Jo chose to return to honor his first teacher

by sculpting him in clay

and immortalizing him in BRONZE.

AND NOW WE KNOW, THAT IS JUST WHAT

HE DID !

This bust is Just Gorgeous
An amazing piece and
a more amazing discovery —
for me and this website 
after being out of view
for over 70 years.
 
We  just  Love  IT !  
[Dan Neil Leininger: webmaster]
 

 

 
JO DAVIDSON’S LETTER OF SYMPATHY
  • On Nov. 6, 1947. Jo sent letter of sympathy to Cecelia MacNeil, Hermon’s widow expressing his heartbreak at Hermon’s passing
 
INTERESTING FACTS in this letter:
  • Jo Davidson made this sculpture in the year 1945.
  • He shares his heartbreak over the death.
  • He remembers Hermon’s happiness
  • He will exhibit the bust for the Art World to see & remember
  • He wants Cecelia to come the Exhibition and see the bust.
  • Jo and Flo invited Cecelia to their home for her to visit.
Cecelia was an RN
 
— an Army Nurse during WW I
She nursed Carol Brooks until she died
on July 22, 1944.
 
She nursed Hermon as well four years later until he died
on October 2, 1947.
 
 
 PERSONAL FACTS:
  • I am DANIEL NEIL LEININGER. My middle name comes from  my mother’s maiden name — McNeil.
  • I was born in 1945 the same year this bust was made.

    (June 30, 1945 Daniel Neil Leininger is born in Saint Louis, Missouri)
  • I am the same age as the bust. (just not as good looking)!
  • I was 27 months-old when Hermon died.  I never saw Hermon MacNeil’s face until this BUST arrived.
 
 
Curious QUESTIONs: 
  1. SO did JO make this portrait Bust of HERMON in Jan to April 1945, or NOV-DEC, 1945?
  2. Before or after his 2nd Heart attack in San Francisco?
 
 
 TIMELINE around Jo’s Bust of
 
Hermon MacNeil 
 
TIMELINE of Events when Bust was made:
SourceBetween Sittings … pp. 344-346. (Events from Jo’s narrative. Some public dates filled in)
  • April 12, 1945  Franklin D. Roosevelt died. Jo got the call at Lahaska that afternoon. Jo had known FDR since 1933 when he sculpted the first bust of him White House.  He sculpted two inaugural Medals for FDR.
  • April 18, 1945  Ernie Pyle killed in action.  Jo made his bust in 1942
  • April 22, 1945  Jo Davidson and Florence travel (fly) to Los Angeles., Says he is  exhausted. Jo is distressed self-dosing on nitroglycerin tablets
  • April 24, 1945  Jo Davidson has a 2nd heart attack on the opening evening of the United Nations Conference. 
  • April 25, 1945 Jo Davidson is in St. Mary”s Hospital in San Francisco under an oxygen tent.
  • April 25, 1945 to June 26, 1945 — United Nations Organizational Conference in San Francisco
  • Aug. 14, 1945  Florence tells Jo of Victory-in-Japan Day news report on radio in while he remains in hospital.
  • Sept. – Oct. 1945  For the next Two months Jo was recouping at the Ranch of Ralph Stagpole in Cloverdale CA.  The Stagpoles took in Jo, his nurse, and Florence and helped him get back to health.
  • Oct. 1945. Jo and Flossie returned to their home in Lahaska, NY
  • Nov. 6, 1947. Jo sends letter of sympathy to Cecelia MacNeil, Hermon’s widow expressing his heart break at Hermon’s passing
  • Oct. 2, 1947  DEATH:  Hermon Atkins MacNeil dies at his home in College Point.
  • Nov. 25, 1947 BUST EXHIBITED  ~~ National Institute of Arts and Letters – Retrospective Exhibition of Jo Davidson’s Work.  This bust was a part of that Exhibition
  • 1951  Jo Davidson’s health continues to deteriorate
  • 1951  Jo’s friends Andre Gide & Robert Flaherty died … and Sinclair Lewis
  • Jan. 2, 1952  Jo Davidson dies at his home in Becheron, France.
FYI
 I have ordered a plain black wooden pillar stand (30′ X 12″ X 12″).   It will offer a fitting display for this wonderful tribute to
Hermon A. MacNeil (1866-1947)
Beaux Arts sculptor of Indians and Monuments
 
 
 
 

HERMON MacNEIL AS HE APPEARED ABOUT 1945

Hermon Atkins MacNeil ~ About 1945 ~ when Jo Davidson sculpted him.  Seated outside of his studio in College Point, Queens, NYC. [ Credit: Kenilworth Historical Society donated by Joel Rosenkranz of Conner – Rosenkranz, LLC. ]

 

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 MacNeil Month  #4  —  February 22, 2021 

 

JO Davidson

Political Sculptor 

Hermon MacNeil

Monument Maker

1930 – 1944

 

 JO DAVIDSON   ~ ~ “Political Sculptor” ~ ~

After the World War, requests for portrait busts occupied much of Jo Davidson’s  time sculpting.  His reputation for as a sculptor of good works and fast results traveled quicker than even his own frequent migrations across the Atlantic. He described his approach to portraits as “simple.”

I never had them pose but just talked about everything in the world.  Sculpture, I felt, was another language altogether and had nothing to do with words.  As soon as I got to work, I felt this other language growing between myself and the person I was “busting.”  I felt it in my hands.  Sometimes the people talked as if I was their confessor.  As they talked, I got an immediate insight into the sitters.”  [Between … p86-87.]

That approach used those same talented fingers that twenty years earlier touched clay in a barrel at Yale sculpture lab.  Those fingers were still touching the clay of Jo Davidson’s future.  Rather than hindering drive and ambition, the War years seemed to focus Jo more sharply.  

During the decades of the twenties, thirties, and forties “the powerful, the wealthy, and the talented were literally at Davidson’s fingertips.  During these three decades he completed hundreds of portraits as well as a numerous figural works.”

 DOUBLEDAY PORTRAITS  

In 1929 Jo had made a bust of George Doran of Doubleday, Doran and Company. Afterward George proposed an idea that Jo make busts of the company’s best selling authors in America and England.  The proposal and opportunities delighted Jo Davidson.

Jo’s self-appointed role as a “plastic historian” of his era contained his own mental list of potential subjects.  Many of Doran’s authors were already on Jo’s informal list.  Many were already Jo’s personal friends.  Later Doran sent a letter with a list of a dozen possible subjects.  Doran hosted a series of luncheons to gather the authors and initiate the project. 

Aldous Huxley by Jo Davidson, 1930

Through 1929-1930, Davidson modeled in Paris, London and New York to complete the assignment.  Eventually he completed portraits of James Boyce, Hugh Walpole, Frank Swinnerton, Edgar Wallace, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, Aldous Huxley, Booth Tarkington, Robinson Jeffers, Sir James Barrie, John Galsworthy, Georg Brandes, and Christopher Morley.  He made a bust of Rudyard Kippling from sketches made at a group luncheon, a product that delighted Doran. 

John Galsworthy by Jo Davidson

In June 1931, Jo Davidson opened a show of the results of the Doran project as “Portrait Busts of Some Contemporary Men of Letters” at Knoedler Galleries on Bond Street in New York City.  Jo added his portraits of George Bernard Shaw, James M. Barrie, and John Galsworthy to the show. The event was a benefit for the Royal Literary Fund.  Posters flooded the underground with busts of Shaw, Maugham, Lawrence and others. 

One reviewer wrote: “I never have never read a book of criticism that so subtly and completely inventoried the mind of the age as this room of Jo Davidson’s. It is a superb exercise of lively, sensitive, well-informed intelligence,”   All in all, the project and show assembled this “plastic historian’s” opus of English and American authors who produced many hundreds of novels of thought and imagination of the era.    [Between …, p241-264.]

1933 ~ FRANKLIN D. ROOSEVELT: That Man in the White House  

CARTOON: FDR, 1932.  ‘Just leave ’em, Herb. I’ll do it all after March 4.’ Cartoon, 1932, by Clifford Berryman.

Franklin Delano Roosevelt took office as the 32nd President of the United States. The country was reeling in the third year of the Great Depression.   after the Stock Market Crash of 1929. Both the ensuing action and inaction of President Hoover continued to fuel the economic crisis and decline.  In the next four years, Roosevelt would begin rolling out massive economic relief legislation such as the Emergency Banking Relief Act, the Agricultural Adjustment Act, the National Recovery Administration and the Social Security Act.

At the suggestion of Sara Delano Roosevelt, the President’s mother, Jo Davidson went to Washington, D.C. to meet the new President after he took office on March 4th.  On entering the White House, he could hear barking dogs and voices of children in the distance.  The atmosphere impressed him as a friendly, alive, gay and human.  

The President was rolled in and greeted Jo with a broad, cheerful smile.  Then shaking Jo’s hand said: 

FDR:  “I’ve just had a meeting with a delegation of plasterers who want to have the plasterers and their assistants share in the profits.  That will fix your business.”

JoD:  “I am not a plasterer, … I am a chiseler!”  

Thus cementing our friendship, we made arrangements to get to work.  [Between …, p275.]

That evening Jo stayed at the White House for a conversational dinner with 14 guests.  Afterward he remained alone with the President and reviewed an album of busts Jo had made.  The President asked innumerable questions about Jo’s sitters many of whom he knew.  Their lively exchange continued past midnight.

The next day Jo sculpted the President sitting at his desk.  People came and went from the office.  Jo rolled his stand around to observe from all angles. The President put visitors at ease with jovial comments and winning smile.  He continued to work that evening and the next morning even as he sat in bed looking over papers.  Jo observed,

“President Roosevelt won me completely with his charm, his beautiful voice and his freedom from constraint.  He had unshakable faith in man.  All those projects — NRA, CWA, PWA, — all stemmed from his belief that if you give man a chance, he will not let you down.”

Jo outside the White House with his newest friend.

Jo also observed that the President did not forget about the Artists in his relief bills and WPA projects.  He admired the Presidents sense of direction.  Being a sailor he knew that traveling in a straight line was seldom possible.  Keeping a clear objective while tacking on and off course would still get you to the goal. 

  FROM ‘BUST’ TO ICON    Jo would go on to make numerous busts of Roosevelt, big, small, some carved in stone.  I observed a casting of this bronze bust bearing the Jo Davidson signature on the back while visiting the Churchill Museum at Fulton College in Fulton, Missouri several summers ago.  Churchill made his famous “Iron Curtain” speech there after Roosevelt’s death and the victory of World War II.   How thought it fitting that the curators of the Churchill Museum  choose Jo Davidson’s bust of FDR to portray that “Friendship that Saved the World.” 

Churchill and his family were also White House guests, soaking up the warmth and charm of the “sitting” President as was Jo when he sculpted.  Perhaps that warmth explains the thousands of souvenir miniatures imitating the original that are still sold in the marketplace ninety years later.  Or maybe as one critic phrased it, “His ‘President Roosevelt’ looks the character that the whole world has readily acknowledged.”

 1934 ~ LOSS OF LOVE ~ LOSS OF DIRECTION ~ 

One day Jo walked by a paint shop and saw a miniature water color set in the window bought it.  Less than two inches square he admired it. Compact and complete, it went in his pocket and never left him.  

Yvonne had been in poor health for several years, but was anxious to visit California to see their old friends Lincoln Steffens and his wife, Ella Winter.  The couples had been constant companions in their early years in Paris visiting Bistros and discovering “special foods in the French manner.”  They boarded a train heading cross-country to California. On the train Jo sketch and water-colored his way West.

Arriving in San Francisco they were besieged by reporters: Jo was the sculptor of the President and Yvonne was a great dress designer from Paris.  They visited old haunts and old friends staying with the Steffens.  But Yvonne felt worse. A doctor was called and she was put on rest.  She rallied some, visited old friends, and they returned to New York.  Back home Yvonne Davidson suffered a stroke and died two days later.

New York Daily News. Sunday, May 13, 1934.

The loss of his love of twenty-five years devastated Jo, and he began a period of “Restless Days” as he titled that chapter in his autobiography.  Those “Days” would last for three years.  He left for Paris but could not focus to work.  Life felt empty and cold.  He returned to his Bécheron studio, but his heart was not in it.  Returning to Paris he sought to settle down with his grown sons but their lives were young and Jo’s was old.  Finally he returned to New York but without Yvonne, he found it just as lonely as Paris and Bécheron.  He felt deep loss of love and direction.  

“During these years my life was without an anchor.  I kept on traveling — London, New York, Washington, Paris, California, but I was too restless to stay anywhere for very long.  I was still looking for some project in which I could completely forget myself.

A quarter of a century earlier in his life, Jo was a wanderer — looking, searching, roving until he found “the sculptor within.”  But now with the loss of love, the loss of companionship, he struggled to find direction — a reason to work, a passion to give his hands to, a project to consume his active craving for carving art. 

 MORE DISAPPOINTMENTS  He received a letter from a friend asking if he would consider doing a statue of Thomas Paine to be placed in Paris.  Paine along with Walt Whitman were two early heroes in Jo’s personal pantheon.  After hopes and excitement from friends, he was flattened to learn that the committee his friend was on had already awarded the commission to Gutzum Borglum.  Dejected, he put his sketch of Thomas Paine in his studio drawer. 

To this regret was added a further blow.  Jo returned to Paris only to learn that his beloved friend, Lincoln Steffens, had died.  Steffens was a listener.  Jo didn’t have many.  For nearly two decades he valued that understanding ear.  This dear friend’s passing was a deep loss and only compounded the Restless Days with another layer of sorrow.

 1935 ~ A NATIONAL LOSS  ~  WILL ROGERS DIES 

On August 15, 1935, American humorist and “Oklahoma’s Favorite Son,” Will Rogers died with aviator Wiley Post  when their small plane crashed after take-off in Point Borrow, Alaska. The pair were on an around-the-globe flight.  In 1931 Post had become the first man to fly solo round-the-world.

Will Rogers had become an American Icon.  An actor on stage and films, a vaudeville performer, cowboy, humorist, newspaper columnist, and social commentator; Will  was “a Cherokee citizen born in the Cherokee Nation, Indian Territory.”  The warm humor of this home-spun figure won the hearts of Americans long before his sudden death at the height of the Great Depression.  His passing was a shocking sorrow in very trying times for the American public.

Jo Davidson had wanted to do a bust of Rogers but never had.  Betty, Will’s wife, had often urged him to pose for Jo.  Will would always decline jokingly calling Jo “old that headhunter” to the amusement of Jo and all nearby.  

Weeks later dining in New York with Sidney Kent of Fox Films, Jo shared his regret and the desire to immortalize Will Rogers.  Kent concurred, and agreed to lend Jo some of Will’s old movies to do the modeling work.   Jo received a letter from E. W. Marland, his old oil man friend from Ponca City, Oklahoma and the Pioneer Woman commission.  Marland was now Governor Marland.  Jo went of Oklahoma City, visited with the Governor and signed a contract to make the Will Rogers statue.

Returning to his Paris Studio the Fox Films crew set up a big projector and large screen and began running continuous movies of Will Rogers in the front studio while Jo worked in the back.  Friends gathered in this new Will Rogers “studio” for a week as Jo “worked, talked, and lived nothing but Will Rogers.  The films brought back so many memories.”  [Between …, p. 298.]

“Betty Rogers sent Wills clothes, his shirt, his tie and his shoes. … Then I had the model put on Will’s clothes.  They still contained his personality.  Clothes have a way of being impersonal until they are worn; then they become a part of the person who wore them — like a glove before and after wearing. [Between …, pp. 299-300.]

 

– Will Rogers – Keeping an eye on Congress… since June 6, 1939.

“Before his death, the state of Oklahoma commissioned a statue of Rogers, to be displayed as one of the two it has in the National Statuary Hall Collection of the United States Capitol. Rogers agreed on the condition that his image would be placed facing the House Chamber, supposedly so he could “keep an eye on Congress”. Of the statues in this part of the Capitol, the Rogers sculpture is the only one facing the Chamber entrance—a stakeout location for camera crews looking to catch House members during and after voting. It is also a common background for reporters and lawmakers, with staff often directing the media to be at the “Will Rogers stakeout” at a certain time. According to some Capitol guides, each US president rubs the left shoe of the Rogers statue for good luck before entering the House Chamber to give the State of the Union address.” [34]   [Source: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Will_Rogers]

Claremore, Oklahoma — Will Rogers Museum – centerpiece

When the second statue was dedicated in the rotunda of the Will Rogers Museum in Claremont, Oklahoma. 20,000 people from all over came for the unveiling — Indians, cowboys, and other friends of Will’s.  A radio program was broadcast nation-wide and President Roosevelt spoke from Hyde Park.  He told the nation of listeners:

“There was something infectious about his humor.  His appeal went straight to the heart of the nation.  Above all things, in a time grown too solemn and sober, he brought his countrymen back to a sense of proportion “

When Will’s daughter Mary pulled the string unveiling the eight and a half foot statue, “there was a moment of hushed awe.  The light fell on the statue just right.  Mrs. Rogers, overcome, broke down and wept.”  [Between …, p. 300.] 

DC Capitol Assault? by “Trump-it-eers!” ~~ What Would Will Rogers Say about January 6, 2021 ?

 

 1939 ~ STARTING AGAIN ~ Walt Whitman walks the Woods 

One day Averell Harriman visited Jo in his Paris studio and admired his sketch for a Walt Whitman statue.  When Jo lamented that the NY Park Commission refused to place it in three different parks, Averell suggested a home for it in Bear Mountain Park.  He invited Jo to his home to view the park for possible sites.

The park had been part of the Harriman property in Arden, NY.  His mother had designated 10,000 acres adjoining Bear Mountain as a public park.  Averell wanted a statue of Whitman to commemorate his mother’s gift.  Jo’s idea of Whitman fit the family’s plans for a commemorative.

Jo returned to New York in the autumn visiting Harriman for the Thanksgiving holidays.  He had immersed himself in Walt Whitman and found that the poet had actually roamed through those same hills.  Jo tramped along the wooded Appalachian Trail finding a long graceful rock formation large enough to support a bronze statue.  He determined with enlarged photostats of his sketch that an eight and a half foot statue would command the rock face as a convincing figure to be found walking in the woods.

Jo Davidson worked off and on for several years on the Walt Whitman figure.  In 1939 it was cast and displayed at the New York World’s Fair before finding a final dedication and home on Bear Mountain.

 RECASTING:  Jo had had so many disappointments that never expected the statue to emerge beyond his sketch. But it did!  Matter of fact, in 1957, six years after Jo Davidson’s death, the Fairmont Park Art Association of Philadelphia placed another casting of the statue on Broad Street near the entrance to the Walt Whitman Bridge.  

Davidson described his satisfaction in this period of his life in these words:

“THERE IS NO GREATER HAPPINESS THAN WORKING ON SOMETHING THAT ONE VERY MUCH WANTS  TO DO.”

 


 THE ‘WORK OF ART’ ~ the RECOVERING THE PASSION

The passion of Jo Davidson’s life was  sculpting.   One day when he and his friend six-foot-three friend, Charlie, (Charles W. Ervin) with a “booming voice” were in the Jo’s studio having lunch:

“I got an itch to do a bust of that booming voice.  The bust seemed to do itself I think that André Gide’s definition of a work of art applied in this case: “A collaboration between the subconscious, which is God’s part, and the artist; and the less the artist interferes, the greater the work of art.”  This has happened to me several times in my life as a sculptor.  … if I can hear the sitter’s voice, I know that the bust is good.  

Jo had a very spacious studio in the Beaux Arts building.  He he was happy there especially as people could and would drop by; he needed people around.  It was a busy studio where Jo completed one sitting with another.  Among others he did:

David Sarnoff – President of National Broadcasting Company who championed the development of broadcast communications in radio and television.

Edward MacCarten – Sculptor and Jo’s old friend from Art Students League and another of Hermon MacNeil’s student who gave him the following advise:“One day he said, “Jo, here’s an idea. When you come here tomorrow go to work as if this is your last day on earth and you have to finish your statue before you die.” This struck home. The next day I went to work with new energy.  I didn’t die that night, nor did I finish the “David” that day. But as I look back, MacCarten’s advise was one of the greatest contributions that I ever received from a fellow artist.”

They met up again when Jo came to Paris to study Beaux Arts with  no Scholarship, no support, and $40 in his pocket during Jo’s adventuring and searching years. 

Sinclair Lewis – American writer and playwright.  First writer from the United States  to receive the Nobel Prize in Literature

A BRIEF REPRISE of old love ~~ One day into that busy studio walked another former sculptor from days at the Art Student League:

“When I finished (Sinclair) Lewis’ bust, Florence Lucius was in my studio and we were talking about portraiture.  She reminded me of John Sargent’s definition of a portrait, ‘a picture of somebody with something the matter with the mouth.’  Some ten minutes later Dorothy Thompson came in to look at her husband’s bust.  She gave one glance, turned to me and said, “It’s very good but there is something the matter with the mouth.'”   [Between …, p303.]

A passing moment of shared irony ?  …

with a  briefly re-discovered old friend ?  …

but MAYBE it was more…  ?   ?    ?

MORE PLASTIC HISTORY – THE SPANISH CIVIL WAR   In the summer and fall of 1938 modeled portraits of Spanish Loyalists of the Civil War.  The results were exhibited in the Arden Gallery in New York City and published as: Jo Davidson: Spanish Portraits. New York: The Georgian Press, Inc., 1938.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

 FLORENCE “Flossie” LUCIUS  ~ OLD LOVE REKINDLES 

After many years of rumblings, World War II began 1939.   Jo turned over his farm and home in Bécheron to the Vichy government to house various attachés.  So in 1940 he returned to the United States.  Jo states that he “was still at loose ends, restless and haunted by a vague sense of dissatisfaction.  There was no real reason for this complicated business of living”  Jo’s passion for sculpting was interrupted.

Into Jo Davidson’s global and personal malaise walked an old flame he had fallen hard for three decades earlier — “Flossie” Florence Lucius

“Then one day, I found my old love of the Art Students League days, Florence Lucius.  I hadn’t seen her for several years.  … With Flossie around, life began to take on a new meaning and the studio began bubbling with life and buzzing with people.

Jo and Flossie visited friends in Bucks County, Pennsylvania and while driving around Jo saw a farm for sale that reminded him of Bécheron.  Jo asked his architect friend Burral Hoffman to look it over as a possible home and studio.  

HEART CRISIS !   Although Jo had rediscovered the love of his young heart, at fifty-seven years his own heart was showing signs of hard-working wear.  Out at dinner with friends … I felt an excruciating pain in my left arm, and the next day, I was in the hospital with a heart attack.  I spent six weeks in the hospital.”

Burrell Hoffman came to see him with the proposal of sketches showing how the barn of the Bucks County farm could be converted into a wonderful studio space.  Jo was delighted with the plans and future studio, his American Bécheron.  At discharge the doctor ordered complete rest and no worries so Jo and Florence went to the Virgin Islands staying for two blissful months. Until one evening a Jimmy Sheean, (a fresh-faced and insolent radio announcer who brought home the war to American listeners) began “reporting the bombing of a Red Cross train in France by the Germans.  Other voices told of roads filled with refugees.  In the peace and quiet of this beautiful night in St. Thomas the news was appalling.  I packed my bags and returned to New York.”

The words “roads filled with refugees” had to trigger Jo’s memories of similar scenes he witnessed in 1914 while covering WW I first-hand from Belgium.  He went from “refugee stories” to his new American Bécheron in Bucks County.  The new studio and home now renamed “Stone Court Farm” was now ready for the new couple.

SCULPTING AGAIN ~ Roosevelt’s 3rd

Characteristically, Jo very quickly got his first sculpting job.  In a phone call he was asked to do the third inaugural medal for President Roosevelt  This was a rush job with just days to complete.   Sent a photograph to work from, Jo became frustrated.  Jo sculpted from life not antique photographs.  He just couldn’t properly do a bas-relief this way.  So, he made his own phone call, flew to Washington and the 32nd President posed for two sittings.  Rush mission accomplished!

SOUTH AMERICAN JOURNEY ~ Good Will Ambassador

Florence Lucius Davidson

On evening visiting with friends Jo met John Abbott who worked for Nelson Rockefeller, Coordinator of Inter-American Affairs.   The agency’s mission was to promote inter-American cooperation (Pan-Americanism) especially in commercial, cultural and economic areas thus strengthening U. S. ties with South American Nations.  The idea was conceived that night for Jo to travel as a Good Will Ambassador making busts of Presidents of South American Republics. The idea quickly became an official mission to create busts of ten presidents.

Needing an Assistant, Jo turned to Flossie, a sculptor herself.  Jo also wanted her to marry him which they did after arriving in Venezuela.  They had known each other since days as art students.  It had been puppy love back then now both those old feelings came right back and their need for each other at this point in life’s journey brought a new sense of happiness that they both needed and deserved.  So now Florence Lucius became Florence Lucius Davidson, and Jo added another portrait bust to his growing collection.  

On the six month mission to South America, Jo had to travel by flying. “From country to country — Brazil, Paraguay, Uruguay, Peru, Ecuador, Columbia, Bolivia, and others — he flew, modeling the presidents he met in clay, casting them in bronze on his return to the United States.  There, they were exhibited in the National Gallery of Arts in Washington.  Later, they were given to the various countries as a gift from the United States.” 5.

Writing to Flossie about Jo, Van Wyck Brooks once stated, He’s an entire United Nations in his own way.”  On this Good Will Ambassador tour that could not have been more true.

Back home again.  There soon followed portrait busts of Henry Wallace, Vice President of the United States; Ernie Pyle, reporter and war correspondent; Madame Chiang Kai-Shek, and Van Wyck Brooks, biographer, literary critic, and historian.

 THIRTY YEARS AND HUNDREDS OF SCULPTURES 

In the thirty years (1920-1949) Jo Davidson would go on to travel the world making hundreds of portrait busts and figures.  Some on commission, but many just because he was asked or he just wanted to.  Looking around his studio one day, He said he realized that he was the World’s Largest Collector of “Jo Davidson” busts.

Jo Davidson with Busts of 8 Presidents that he completed.

Jo continued his constant pace of sittings for portrait bust —  just a few of those “sitters” included:

Clarence Darrow 1929, Charlie Chaplin 1925, Lincoln Steffens 1920, Robert M. La Follette 1923, W. Averell Harriman 1935, Franklin Roosevelt 1933, 1951, Fiorello LaGuardia (1934), Andrew Mellon (1927), Andrew Furuseth (1929) Mother Jones (1922), Carl Sandburg 1931, Ignace Paderewski (1920), Will Rogers (1935-38), Mahatma Gandhi (1931), Albert Einstein (1934). Arthur Conan Doyle, Israel Zangwill, Albert Einstein 1937, Emma Goldman, Frank Harris, Hellen Keller 1942, John D. Rockefeller 1924, Dolores Ibárruri, Franklin Roosevelt 1934, 1951, Henry A. Wallace, Walt Whitman, , Dwight D. Eisenhower 1948,  H. G. Wells, Gertrude Stein 1923, Josip Tito, Carl Sandburg 1939, Edward Willis Scripps 1922, George Bernard Shaw 1931,  Mahatma Gandhi, James Joyce, Rudyard Kipling, D. H. Lawrence, Henry LuceJames Barrie, Joseph Conrad, Charles G. Dawes, Will Rogers 1935-38, Anatole France, André Gide, Robinson Jeffers 1930, John Marin and Ida Rubinstein.  1

That tactile process of wordless communication accelerated “the portrait sculptor within.” And his fame kept preceding him as he assembled a PLASTIC HISTORY OF HIS TIMES

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Jo Davidson as AMATEUR POLITICIAN 

~ ROOTING FOR ROOSEVELT ~

Jo Davidson ~ Political Sculptor

TIME Sept. 9, 1946. Jo Davidson Featured

TIME Sept. 9, 1946. Jo Davidson Featured

TIME magazine put Jo Davidson’s face on the cover in September, 1946.  The cover lampoon and story inside form a satirical and rather pejorative piece about Jo’s later activities in the political spotlight after FDR’s death in April 1945. 

The cover featured a cartoon figure speaking words “Vote For…” into a microphone.  The figure was a collage of a palette board face, a violin torso, paint brush legs, sculptors tools arms, standing on three books and a soap-box. 

Jo was famous, loved people, circulated in an extensive network of the wealthy and famous including Hollywood. Davidson had become a political activist and was reluctantly elected chairman of the Independent Citizens Committee of Artists, Scientists, and Professionals (ICCASP), a group that supported the policies of President Franklin Roosevelt but now FDR was gone.

Originally formed as the Independent Voters Committee of the Arts and Sciences for Roosevelt, its organizational meeting was held in Jo’s studio (the only room big enough to hold a crowd).  Jo was elected chairman because he was the host that everybody knew.  This progressive collage included Actors, Musicians, Entertainers, Authors, Poets, Artists, Painters, Political activists, Scientists.  Their mission was to illuminate the 1944 re-election campaign of President Roosevelt by shining the star-power this distinguished collection of public faces and names behind an ongoing Roosevelt agenda.

President Franklin D. Roosevelt (L), talking to the Independent Voters Committee (L to R) Van Wyck Brooks, Hanna Dornen, Jo Davidson, Jan Jiepung, Joseph Cotton, Dorothy Gish, Dir. Harlow Shapely and James Proctor. (Photo by George Skadding/The LIFE Picture Collection via Getty Images)

Jo reports that when the group went to call on the President, he jokingly asked Jo, have they called you a Communist yet?” They hadn’t, but Jo didn’t have long to wait. The TIME story suggests that the group had picked up a few Communists, like the fleas on a dog.  Jo Davidson suggested to the reporter that “its Communists have no more to do with its course that fleas do with a dog’s.”   To the question of Communist influence, Jo Davidson replied: “Have you stopped beating your wife.”

After Roosevelt’s death and President Harry Truman succeeding him into the office, the group had to refocus in Post World War II America.  An opponent of the Cold War policies of Harry S. Truman, he joined the Progressive Citizens of America (PCA). Other members included Rexford Tugwell, Paul Robeson, W.E.B. Du Bois, Arthur Miller, Dashiell Hammett, Hellen Keller, Thomas Mann, Aaron Copland, Claude Pepper, Eugene O’Neill, Glen H. Taylor, John Abt, Edna Ferber, Thornton Wilder, Carl Van Doren, Fredric March and Gene Kelly.

Davidson supported Henry A. Wallace in the 1948 Presidential Election. Wallace’s running-mate was Glen H. Taylor, the left-wing senator for Idaho. A group of conservatives, including Henry Luce, Clare Booth Luce, Adolf Berle, Lawrence Spivak and Hans von Kaltenborn, sent a cable to Ernest Bevin, the British foreign secretary, that the PCA were only “a small minority of Communists, fellow-travelers and what we call here totalitarian liberals.” Winston Churchill agreed and described Wallace and his followers as “crypto-Communists”.

   ~    ~    ~    ~    ~    ~    ~

“No one ever met Jo and then forgot him. Wherever he was, his vibrant personality pervaded. He was tremendously gifted for the work he did. He was intelligent, incisive, witty, a marvelous raconteur. His enthusiasm was endless. He hated everything mean or intolerant.”
– Harry Rosin –  Bucks County Sculptor and neighbor         https://bucksco.michenerartmuseum.org/artists/jo-davidson

   ~    ~    ~    ~    ~    ~

 


Jo Davidson Sculptures [partial list of hotlinks]:

 

SOURCES for Davidson material:

  1. Spartacus Educational: Jo Davidson.   © John Simkin, May 2013.  FOUND AT: https://spartacus-educational.com/Ajo_davidson.htm
  2. TIME, “Political Notes: Glamor Pusses.” VOL. XLVIII, No. 11, September 9, 1946. pp. 23-25.
  3. Connor, Janis and Joel Rosenkranz, photographs by David Finn, Rediscoveries in American Sculpture: Studio Works, 1893 – 1939, University of Texas Press, Austin TX 1989.
  4. Jo Davidson. Between Sittings: An Informal Autobiography of Jo Davidson, New York: Dial Press, 1951.
  5. Lois Harris Kuhn. The World of Jo Davidson, New York: Farrar, Straus and Cudhay, 1958.  p. 153.

 


 

  1.  HERMON ATKINS MACNEIL 
  2. ~ ~ More Monuments ~ 1930 ~ 1940 ~ ~

1930 ~ “The Pilgrim Memorial” ~ Waterbury, CT

ABOUT THE PIONEER MEMORIAL

“The Harrub Pilgrim Memorial was carved out of French granite by Hermon Atkins MacNeil of New York. Charles Harrub, an engineer for the American Brass Company, donated the $100,000 needed for the project to honor his wife and the Pilgrims. Dedicated October 11, 1930. It is now located at the corner of Highland Avenue and Chase Parkway. (Photo by Daniel M. Lynch, Mattatuck Consulting, LLC.” 

This website of tells the history of settling Waterbury CT from 1657 to the American Revolution.  Descendants of early settlers give family genealogy and memorable stories. Source: OFFICIAL WEBSITE of the RIVER-HOPKINS and SAEMANN-NICKEL and Related Families

A second history blog of Waterbury offers additional photos and history of the memorial.  Here’s a photo from dedication day.

“Sculptor Hermon Atkins MacNeil was commissioned to create the monument. Based in New York City, MacNeil is remembered for having designed the 1917 quarter, as well as for a series of sculptures depicting Native Americans in classically heroic poses.

The Harrub Memorial was completed in 1930 and unveiled at a ceremony held on October 11, 1930. Although it is now located at the top of Chase Park, off Highland Avenue, the monument was originally placed at the bottom of the hill, facing Freight Street.”

 

1930 ~ Judge Thomas Burke Memorial

In Seattle, Washington the Memorial to Judge Thomas Burke exhibits MacNeil’s classic Beaux Arts design and allegorical figures.  Beneath the bronze bas relief of  Burke’s profile, the engraved stone pilaster  reads:  “Patriot, Jurist, Friend, Patron of Education, First of every movement for the advancement of the city and the state, Seattle’s foremost and best beloved Citizen.”

“Burke came to Seattle in 1875 and formed a law partnership with John J. McGilvra; he soon married McGilvra’s daughter Caroline.[2] He established himself as a civic activist: one of his first projects was to raise funds for a planked walkway from roughly the corner of First and Pike (now site of Pike Place Market) through Belltown to Lake Union.[7]

Cartoon of Thomas Burke, railroad man

He served as probate judge 1876-1880[8] and as chief justice of the Washington Territorial Supreme Court in 1888.[3]

“Irish as a clay pipe,”[9] and well liked by early Seattle’s largely Irish working class, as a lawyer Burke was well known for collecting large fees from his wealthy clients and providing free legal services for the poor.  [Source: Thomas Burke (railroad builder)]

 

1931 ~ President James Monroe bust

Monroe-HAM-1931HOF_NYU

US President James Monroe

Exactly 100 years after James Monroes death (b. April 28, 1758 – d.July 4, 1831), Hermon MacNeil completed a bronze bust of this U.S. President.  It was MacNeil’s fourth statue of a US President. (Washington 1916, Lincoln 1928, McKinley 1906

 

This bronze bust by Hermon MacNeil resides in the Hall of Fame of Great Americans on the campus of Bronx Community College (formerly NYU). The aging memorial of over 100 busts was designed by Stanford White, famous “Beaux Arts” architect of New York City. 

Monroe was the fifth President of the United States (1817–1825).  He was the last president from the group known as the Founding Fathers.  Monroe was also the last President from the Virginia dynasty.  In 1936 MacNeil would sculpt one other Virginian from the Revolutionary era — “George Rogers Clark” (National Monument in Vincennes, Indiana site of the Clark’s Revolutionary victory at Fort Sackville).

CHECK OUT THESE LINKS ALSO:

  1. Hall of Fame:  MacNeil has Four busts enshrined there.
  2. MORE: on Monroe

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

 

1931 ~ HOPI ~~ PRAYER FOR RAIN  ~~ Issue #3

When Hermon MacNeil was asked to make the Third Issue of the new Society of Medalists Series, He chose to revert to his early experiences of 1895 of Native American in the Arizona and New Mexico territory.

 


 

1932 CONFEDERATE DEFENDERS 

~~ Charleston, SC ~~ Ft Sumter Harbor ~~

Grafetti after shooting at Mother Emmanuel Church Charleston 2015

The “Confederate Defenders” designed and sculpted by Hermon A. MacNeil was selected by a committee of Charlestonians from over a dozen proposals of other sculptors. 

Unlike many monuments featuring soldiers, cannons arms, horsed and battles raging, MacNeil’s concept was different.

I like to think that the committee awarded the commission for this design because of its classical Beaux Arts treatment of allegorical symbolism.  In MacNeil communicated — Youth, Athleticism, defense, the shield bearing the Seal of South Carolina, The Athena Goddess of Charleston.

In the 21 Century the Monument has become a “protest site” after shootings in 2015 at a Bible study at Mother Emanuel Church a few blocks north. 

More recently opposing groups such as:  Black Lives Matter and  Flags Across the South. Have protested on the site.

Both groups gathered. Black Lives Matter marchers held their signs along The Battery wall. Across the street at the Confederate Defenders Monument, members of  as Charleston Police stood watch.

Eventually the City Council worked out a compromise schedule of rotating permits for the plaza of the statue area

 

 

1932 U.S. Supreme Court  Building ~ East Pediment

Moses ~ Confucius ~  Salon

 

General Alfred Howe Terry

General John Sedgwick

  1934 ~ Alfred H. Terry ~ Connecticut Capitol Building 

Location:  south elevation.   Artist: Hermon MacNeil.

1934 ~ John Sedgwick ~ Connecticut Capitol Building

Location:  south elevation.   Artist: Hermon MacNeil.

 

 

1936 ~ George Rogers Clark Memorial ~ Hero of the American Revolution

Clark National Monument where MacNeil’s George R. Clark is housed

MacNeil’s Statue of George Rogers Clark is inside the circular dome of the Monument in Vincennes, IN.  CLICK HERE for More

CLICK HERE for the National Park Service’s story of this National Monument (CLICK) 

This beautifully restored dome on the prairie contains Hermon Atkins MacNeil’s heroic statue of George Rogers Clark, a Virginian who saw the importance of the West in the war effort as a whole. He persuaded Virginia’s government (and Governor Thomas Jefferson) to support his efforts; then with 200 men, he crossed the Ohio River to the Mississippi River taking Kaskaskia and Cahokia, and returning to capture Fort Sackville at Vincennes.

The following video by RATIO Architects shows the reconstruction and restoration of The George Rogers Clark Memorial roof and foundations in 2005 after decades of leakage, erosion, corrosion, stalactite formation and water damage to the steps and walkways. (length 6:24 min; Source RATIO Architects )

Thanks RATIO for restoring  this monument of American history and giving us this documentation. Dan Leininger, webmaster of HermonAtkinsMacNeil.com

Treaty of Paris, by Benjamin West (1783), depicts the United States delegation at the Treaty of Paris (left to right): John Jay, John Adams, Benjamin Franklin, Henry Laurens, and William Temple Franklin. The British delegation refused to pose, and the painting was never completed.

The George Rogers Clark Memorial is on the sight of the British Fort Sackville of 1779. Clark and his 170 frontier men demanded surrender from  British Lt., Governor Henry Hamilton by surprise and deception on Feb 25, 1779. They marshaled troops waving flags and firing rapidly as if they were a larger army.  Clark’s strategies and victories in the West marked the beginning of the end of British domination in America’s western frontier and by the Treaty of Paris (1783) extended the 13 colonies westward to the Mississippi River. 

Re-enactment of Fort Sackville surrender

  ~  ~  ~  ~  ~  ~  ~  ~  ~  ~

 

1940 ~ The Pony Express ~ Saint Joseph, MO

Follow the setting Sun

The Legend of the Pony Express is larger than life.  The images of riders carrying pouches (mochilas) of mail from Saint Joseph, Missouri to Sacramento, California, (a 1900 mile route) through 186 Pony Express Stations along the route about 10 miles apart. Riders had to take an oath, must weigh less than 125 pounds, riding both day and night through sun and rain. Riders changed every 75 -100 miles or doubling that in emergencies from April 1860 to September 1961 before the transcontinental telegraph was completed.  

The legend of Hermon MacNeil’s Pony Express statue is told here on 5 different stories linked on this single thread searched with “Pony Express”.  (including Poncho Villa) MacNeil’s legendary statue includes:

  • a black mounted action figure heading West with hair and bandana streaming,
  • Four mochilas (pouches) for mail,
  • a pistol on his hip,
  • a Sun carved on the south side of the base symbolizing daytime and the Moon on the north side for night.
  • The legend of “Poncho Villa” the wild Dakota range horse that MacNeil modeled for the muscular steed running to the sun.

Poncho Villa was an ‘outlaw’ horse tamed by Dr. S. Meredith Strong, a physician and horse lover who was the National President of the American Rough Riders Association, a group devoted to the preservation of the wild mustangs. He traveled thousands of miles as a lover-of-horse-flesh seeking to preserve this western heritage. He and MacNeil must have had some interesting conversations.  (The newspaper photo shows Hermon MacNeil seated on the statue).

Neither rain, sleet, snow or dark of night shall keep the rider from his appointed journey.  Burr!

HOTLINKS TO 1930-1940 Statues and Monuments by Hermon A. MacNeil

 

 

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Jo Davidson, Sculptor, 1937

Hermon Atkins MacNeil,  ~1934

Hermon MacNeil 

 

and Jo Davidson

 

1912   –   1929

 MacNeil Month ~ ~ Story #3   ~ ~ ~ ~

Feb. 2021 ~ “Two Careers”

BY 1912 JO DAVIDISON and HERMON MacNEIL

were parting ways artistically.

Hermon MacNeil continued making Historical Subjects, World’s Fairs, and Monuments as he had for 20 years (1893-1912). 

[ Photos and hot-links to MORE MacNeil works appear at the end of this post …⇓ ]

Jo Davidson after a decade of searching  and wandering, to fulfill some inner talent,

he discovered his “Sculptor Within.” 

 Review:        Jo  made repeated attempts (1903-7) at studying the “Beaux Arts” style at the Art Students League of New York, learning it “hands-on” in the MacNeil Studio with John Gregory, and Henri Crenier (and all their teasing), under the quiet tutelage of Hermon MacNeil.    Then actually traveling to Paris without scholarship or support to enroll in the actual  Ecole des Beaux-Arts.  

BUT … LEAVING THERE after 3 weeks because he sensed that Beaux Arts was training him to sculpt “Antiquities”    WHEN he wanted to “SCULPT LIFE.”

Jo Davidson

In 1909 before coming back to New York City, Jo married Yvonne de Kerstrat, a French actress and sister of an artist friend, Louis de Kerstrat.  Their son Jacques was born the next year.

The next several years were very productive for the sculptor.  His figural works included a bronze statuette of Ida Rubinstein and an eight-foot bronze La Terre. 

ONE-MAN SHOWS X 3.    In 1911 Jo began presenting one-man shows.  The first opened in the New York in April, then a second more successful one at Reinhardt Galleries in Chicago in November.  This included twenty portraits and twenty figures.  A third show in New York opened in January 1913 with twenty-two figural works and fifteen portraits.  With this growing success in both reputation and finances, Jo could now keep two studios — one in New York and another in Paris. 

69th Regiment Armory on Lexington Ave. on-street parking New York City

The Armory Show 1913

Also in 1913, Davidson exhibited in the Armory Show, also known as The International Exhibition of Modern Art.  This three-city exhibition started in New York City’s 69th Regiment Armory on Lexington Ave.  From there it traveled to the Art Institute of Chicago and next to Boston’s Copley Society.  

Walt Kuhn, American painter, and a friend of Jo Davidson, was an organizer of the famous Armory Show which was America’s first large-scale introduction to European Modernism in Art.  Working with Arthur B. Davies and Walter Pach, Kuhn spent a year, much of it in Europe assembling a collection The exhibition traveled to New York City, Chicago, and Boston and was seen by approximately 300,000 Americans. Of the 1,600 works included in the show, about one-third were European, and attention became focused on them. The selection was almost a history of European Modernism.[https://www.britannica.com/event/Armory-Show-art-show-New-York-City#ref126367]

“Kuhn and Davies had both studied in Europe and developed a strong appreciation for the groundbreaking developments that were taking place there, particularly in Paris. Both also had ambitious dreams of altering the very fabric of American art and culture. The pair would be particularly instrumental in bringing a display of European art to U.S. shores—the likes of which most Americans had never seen before. With the same sprawling exhibition, they would also provide an opportunity for American artists that they had found so lacking in their own careers.”  [ https://www.artsy.net/article/artsy-editorial-1913-armory-dispelled-belief-good-art-beautiful ]

The show’s sponsor, the Association of American Painters and Sculptors developed in 1911 with the aim of finding suitable exhibition space for young artists.  They found  ideals and policies of the National Academy of Design too restrictive to innovation.  The show introduced the American public accustomed to realistic art to the experimental styles sweeping Paris, namely, Fauvism, Cubism, and Futurism But most Americans arrived  expecting “real art,” namely, the “realistic” representations of the renaissance masters.  To these viewers the show was a puzzlement.  Observers responded with confusion, shock, or even anger at this “satire” of “real art.” 

Jo Davidson and the Armory Show.

The Armory show was labeled many things by American art critics.   Frank J. Mather argued that “Post-Impressionism is merely the “harbinger of universal anarchy.”  [1]   It overwhelmed American isolationism with an artistic invasion of a strange avant garde army of artists.  So to most Americans it was a puzzlement both in appearance and reporting afterward.  They came expecting “real art,” as “realistic” as the renaissance masters.  That was Art!  But “This?”  “What is this?”  Observers responded with confusion, shock, anger, and harsh words at this “satire” of “real art.” 

The 1913 Armory Show The International Exhibition of Modern Art opened on February 17, 1913 at the 69th Regiment Armory on Lexington Avenue. The Armory Show—as it came to be known—had an immediate and profound influence, introducing the avant-garde to America and forever altering the narrative of Modernism in America. Photograph by Percy Rainford, courtesy of Bettmann/Corbis. SOURCE: https://www.thearmoryshow.com/armory-25/one-fair-one-city ON 2-6-2021

Jo Davidson was no stranger to European Modernism. Such experiences of “the unconventional” were part of his strolls of Paris with Sultan by his side.  He loved his years on the Left Bank. This Bohemian world of the avant garde enlivened him.  It pleased and excited his imagination  Such images must have powered his search for that illusive “sculptor within.”  His search had gone on for over a decade. 

Davidson’s Impact: Jo Davidson appreciated this work, but was hardly a Modernist in his own creativity.   Yet he seemed to affect the Armory show in at least two ways:

  1. Walt Kuhn appreciated Jo Davidson works. He placed them cleverly throughout the display.  As such, they became benchmarks of understandable art next to some of the more unusual Modernist pieces.  “The artists who created them might know what they intended, but most of them weren’t there and many who were [there] were too shy or found talking too difficult.” 2 Each of Jo’s portrait busts and figures became an oasis of “real” sculpture in the confusing landscape of Modern Art.  Confused and puzzled viewers could wander the foreign art territory of the Armory Show and find occasional respite at a “Davidson” work of art. 
  2. In addition, Jo Davidson himself became an occasional ‘Docent’ at the Armory Show.  Lois Kuhn in her children’s biography of Davidson captures an anecdotal explanation that conveys the essence of Jo to her audience:  “Jo often visited the armory show himself and could easily explain to others not only his own work, but that of those artists unable to speak for themselves.  What a man with words Jo was!  Lois Kuhn offers this humorous ‘possible’ vignette to her young readers:
  • “Its outrageous.” a man protested, looking hard at one of the paintings.  “Whoever heard of ‘pink’ grass?
  • Jo chuckled.  “But you knew it was grass, didn’t you, sir?  It never once occurred to you that it wasn’t anything else, now did it?”
  • The man frowned.  “Well I don’t care.  I don’t like the darn thing anyway!”
  • “Nobody said you had to like it, sir, but if you dislike it, why not dislike it with a reason?”  Jo thought for a moment, then asked, “Have you ever noticed what colors the shadows on the snow are?”
  • The viewer was silent.  He was trying hard to remember.  Jo knew the man had probably never before bothered to think about such an ordinary thing, although he must have seen it hundreds of times.  “No I don’t think I have,” the man admitted, “Do you know?”
  • “They’re purple!  The artist looks and sees them so.  But so can you!  Or anyone else.  Just notice next time it snows.  Then try to think how it would be if the artist painted snow, making the shadows green.  You’d still know they were shadows, wouldn’t you?”
  • “Okay, you win!” the man sighed.  I see your point and you are right!”  He smiled, began to turn away, but suddenly turned back and winked at Jo.  “You know,”  he said strongly, “if more artists could explain things as you do, maybe plain people like me wouldn’t have so darn much trouble trying to find out what they’re up to!”
  • Jo grinned back.  He was happy knowing just one more person would be able to look at a piece of art and try really to understand it.”  2

infrared landscapes by richard mosse at the 2013 Armory Show. CREDIT: ‘platon, north kivu, eastern congo’, 2012all images courtesy jack shainman gallery.

Note: PINK GRASS at the 2013 Armory Show ~~~ Irish photographer Richard Mosse is celebrated for his striking imagery of eastern congo, and presents ‘infrared landscapes’ at the Armory Show in New York 100 years later from the 7-10 March, 2013.  “The photographs are full and rich – the arresting deep reds and crimson hues, candy floss trees and savanna grasses aflame with color. all these surreal elements created through a combination of an obsolete wooden field camera and a rare technique produced by kodak aerochrome, a product developed for military use in the detection of aerial bombing targets. in the late 1960s, the medium was appropriated in artwork for rock musicians like the grateful dead or jimi hendrix, setting the tone for the sublime psychedelic aesthetic of the time.”

Jo Davidson revels in “PORTRAIT BUST-ing” 

By the end of 1913 Davidson had done more than thirty portrait busts. He had a reputation for being “fast” and “good” at that craft.  The Davidson’s returned to France, with a second son, Jean, and found a house in Céret, which is near the border with Spain about 20 miles from the Mediterranean Sea.  His wife’s brother Louis de Kerstrat had purchased a small house there. More importantly, growing  reputation of Céret was as  “the refuge of Picasso, Matisse, Soutine and Chagall”   It would eventually be known as “the Mecca of the Cubists.” Moving there he met Picasso and Aristide Maillol.  Soon Jo was off to London which presented a wealth of opportunities for making portraits of notables. 

LORD NORTHCLIFFE 1913 by Jo Davidson. “Between …” p.54b.

“Portrait became an obsession. Meeting and knowing people meant becoming acquainted with their thinking.” Jo Davidson

From a studio in Thackery House he roved cafes, bars, watering holes seeing and being seen by journalists, authors, and celebrities.  His 1914 exhibition at Leicester Galleries included busts of newspaper mogul Lord Northcliffe, Frank and Nell Harris, and George Bernard Shaw.

 THE TASTE OF WAR 

When WWI broke out, Davidson wanted a place in the effort and through Lord Northcliffe was appointed an artist-correspondent to accompany veteran correspondent George Lynch.  The first went to Ostend, Belgium on the English Channel finding a “dead city.”  They went on east to Ghent climbing 194 steps in a church tower observing the battle of Grenberegen nearly 15 miles distant.  He didn’t enjoy it! 

Jo Davidison’s LIBERTY BONDS poster- THE GUT PUNCH.

He later tried to make sketches but without enthusiasm.  At an ambulance he met doctors and nurses who spoke no French and he was called over to translate.  He received word that their hotel in Ostend had been bombed and destroyed the day they left. 

The Germans were advancing and the British were retreating.  He saw a priest comforting a soldier with open severe facial wounds.  On the road back to Ostend he passed carts filled with old women, children and babies. People carrying pots and pans, a goat, a mattress, a chair, something they could not part with.  “War” was no longer just a word in the history books.

Heartsick, Jo returned to London wanting to do something in clay to express what he saw in France.  Samuel Taylor Coleridge wrote three lines:

FRANCE AROUSED 1914 by Jo Davidson. [Between… p 86a.]

“When France in wrath her giant – limbs upreared, 

And with that oath, which smote air, earth, and sea,

Stamped her strong foot and said she would be free.”

Samuel Taylor Coleridge

The result for Jo was “France Aroused.”

“It was a figure of Bellona,

the goddess of War,

with her feet squarely planted on the on the ground,

her arms upraised, fists clenched,

and her head thrown back —

a cry of rage and protest.”  [

Between …, p.11.]

 RETURNING TO Céret  — His Home was converted to a HOSPITAL  

On May 26, 1915, Yvonne offered their home in Céret as an auxiliary hospital, Bénévole No. 62 with 40 beds, two nurses and Yvonne in charge.  She was up at five A.M. and when all retired would pour over the books in the wee hours.  Their five-year-old son, Jacques, dressed in the uniform of a Chasseur Alpin presided at the head of the evening dinner table in a black baret the Apline hunters.

In 1916 Davidson returned to New York exhibiting fifty-five sculptures and war drawings at Reinhardt Galleries and in June modeled President Wilson.  He began to realize the historical value of his collection of works.  When the United States entered the War in 1917 Davidson decided to make a “plastic history” by modeling portraits of Allied civil and militrary chiefs.  So we left for France with funding from Gertrude Whitney and letters of reference from previous subjects.  The result — The Peace Conference Series — fourteen portraits of including General John J. Pershing (1918), Marshal Ferdinand Foch (1918), who signed his portrait beginning a tradition that Jo continued, Lord Arthur Balfour (1919), George Clemenceau (1920). 

1923 – Gertrude Stein  and Jo had met in 1909. He assessed that a head of her was not enough.  He decided  to do a seated figure — “a sort of a modern Buddha.” [Between …, 174-7.]

“Gertrude was a very rich personality.  Her wit and her laughter were contagfious.  She loved good food and served it.  While I was doing her portrait,  She would come around my studio with a manuscript  and read it aloud. The extraordinary part of it was that, as she read, I never felt any sense of mystification.  ‘A rose is a rose is a rose,’ she took on a different meaning with each inflection.  When she read aloud got the humor of it. We both laughed, and her laughter was something to hear.  There was an eternal quality about her — she somehow symbolized wisdom.”

 John D. Rockefeller 1924 

The only person Jo Davidson ever wrote to requesting to do a portrait bust was John D. Rockefeller.  One month later he received a Letter from his son, John D. Rockefeller, Jr. containing several questions. 

Jo Davidson and John D. Rockefeller modeling his portrait

Several days later John D, Jr. visited the studio with more questions and discussed all details of the venture.  A truck arrived carrying all of Davidson’s studio equipment to the Rockefeller Estate in Tarrytown, north of the city. 

On their meeting Rockefeller told Jo, “Davis … Davison … Davidson.”  The first was his secretary’s name, the second his own middle name, and finally Jo’s last name.  Rockefeller voiced the ironic trilogy and his usual “A-ll good.”  After meeting his new subject, Davidson, Jo entered into the daily routine and was invited to stay as a house guest rather that commute by train daily.  Jo’s descriptions of his time with the family patriarch and his storytelling are as illuminating as his sculpting.

When Jo finished, Rockefeller invited all the house staff to come in and see his fresh likeness.  “Come __ in,” he said.  “Take__ your__ time. Have a good look at it__ yes? A-ll good. Thank You.”

The son, John D. Jr., liked the finished bust so much that he  commissioned Jo to execute it in marble, and also to make a colossal head in stone to be put in the Standard Oil Building. 

1927 Pioneer Woman ~ Ponca City, OK ~ E.W. Marland

A reunion for Hermon and Jo and John Gregory.

CONFIDENT – The winning PIONEER WOMAN by Bryant Baker 

TRUSTING (1927) by Jo Davidson

CHALLENGING. 1927. Hermon MacNeil

SELF RELIANT by A. Stirling Calder

 

In 1927 wealthy oilman E. W. Marland of Ponca City, Oklahoma invited a dozen American sculptors to compete for a commission to create a statue to honor the Pioneer Woman.  Each artist was to submit a two-foot bronze model for the monument, which was to express, in Marland’s words, “the spirit of the pioneer woman—a tribute to all women of the sunbonnet everywhere.”  

PROTECTIVE by John Gregory

Marland’s selection of that dozen sculptors became something of a reunion for Jo Davidson[1] and Hermon MacNeil  and John Gregory (an earlier assistant with Davidson in MacNeil’s studio). Others invited were invited included  James Earle Fraser, Bryant Baker, and A. Stirling Calder.  Each of the dozen were paid $10,000 to produce a bronze two-foot statue model with the winner to be determined by public vote.

The models were sent on a six-month tour of several U.S. cities, from New York and Boston to Minneapolis and Fort Worth and Chicago. Tens of thousands of ballots were cast, and Baker’s model “Confident” won by a margin of nearly two to one. Neither MacNeil or his two previous students won the commission.

Bryant Baker’s entry won the final comission by a wide margin of ballots.  Each artist submitted a two-foot bronze model for the monument, which was to express, in Marland’s words, “the spirit of the pioneer woman—a tribute to all women of the sunbonnet everywhere.”

JO DAVIDSON STRIKES OIL

Jo Davidson charmed E. W. Marland so that he built a permanent studio for the sculptor in Ponca City.  Jo declined moving there permanently, but did spent weeks there completing statues of E. W., his daughter, Lyde standing holding a large garden bonnet; and son, George, in boots and riding breeches.  He also carved a seated  figure of E.W. Marland in marble which remains outside the museum a century later.

After completing the sculptures, E. W. Marland took Jo on a trip to California and back to New York in his private railroad car the “Ponca City.”  Jo wrote letters to Yvonne during the two-week excursion.  Jo met E. W.’s friends, and E.W. met Jo’s friends.  “The Trip, one of the richest experiences of my life, eventually was over, and I set out for Europe where political developments were moving at a rapid pace.”  [Between …, pp. 210-220.] 

 


 

Hermon Atkins MacNeil

“Monument Man” 

  Photos of  his works from 1912 to 1929  

Hot Links to MacNeil Sculptures follow …