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

~ This Gallery celebrates Hermon Atkins MacNeil, American sculptor of the Beaux Arts School. MacNeil led a generation of sculptors in capturing many fading Native American images and American history in the realism of this classic style.

~ World’s Fairs, statues, public monuments, coins, and buildings across to country. Hot-links (on the lower right) lead to photos & info of works by MacNeil.

~ Hundreds of stories and photos posted here form this virtual MacNeil Gallery of works all across the U.S.A.  New York to New Mexico — Oregon to South Carolina.

~ 2016 marked the 150th Anniversary of Hermon MacNeil’s birth on February 27,

Take a Virtual Journey

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

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

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

Maybe there are some near you!

Archive for In Search of “Uncle Hermon”

July 21, 2011. The restored bust on display at the Spurlock Museum at University of Illinois. After a thorough cleaning and patina restoration, MacNeil’s Lincoln bust went on public display for one year in the Spurlock Museum. This was the first showing of the piece in full circle — 360 degree visibility.

     MacNeil’s Abe Lincoln (above) was cleaned and the patina restored in 2011 when Lincoln Hall was reconstructed for its 100th Anniversary.  

     After six years back in his old niche in the east foyer entrance of beautiful Lincoln Hall, I was curious about how much wear Lincoln’s “lucky nose” had sustained from student caresses on their way to exams and classes.

     So, while traveling to visit family in Kentucky, Virginia, and NC in July 2017, we made opportunity to spend the night in Urbana, Illinois. We turned very appropriately onto “Lincoln Street” off of I-74 and found a motel for the night.  

The next morning (Monday, July 31st) we ventured off toward the restored Lincoln Hall on the University of Illinois campus.  Wiggling through blocks of summer street construction into Wright Street, we parked and walked toward the Main Quad.

Larado Taft’s Alma Mater

Lorado Taft’s powerful allegorical grouping “Alma Mater” (with Learning and Labor) at the corner of Eighth and Wright Street greeted us.  (Taft was the alumnus who recommended MacNeil’s bust of Lincoln over other artists considered for placement in the Hall in 1924.) For More on Taft click HERE

We met an alumnae who had dropped her son off for summer workshops.  She asked us to take her picture with the Alma Mater behind her.  Turned out she was originally from Beresford, SD and planned to retire in the Black Hills. Small world.

Abe Lincoln’s nose has a well worn shine again. The patina restoration in 2011 has given way to the”petting” and “well wishes of 100’s of hands” seeking blessings from Old Honest Abe.

We walked into the old quadrangle at the  center of campus.  Walking the brick walks of the lush green lawn. we arrived at the east entrance of Lincoln Hall. We stopped to admire the terra-cotta bas-relief panels placed above the high windows of the building. They depict scenes from the life of the prairie lawyer memorialized in this beautiful hall.

The restored East Foyer of Lincoln Hall with its gilded vaulted ceiling and columns makes a dramatic setting for Hermon A. MacNeil’s bust of Abraham Lincoln as the famed prairie lawyer who left Illinois to lead the nation through the War to preserve the Union and the succession South states.

Entering the East Foyer, we could see the Lincoln bust before us.  The magnificent Beaux Arts style of the ceiling formed a vaulted arch spanning above the wings of the white marble stairs and landing.  This splendidly restored foyer dominated the life-size bust of our sixteenth President centered on the landing in its gold-leafed niche.

The tradition of touching Lincoln’s nose for “good luck” has passed on to another generation of Illini students since the restoration.

Even from the doorway a “bronze glow” could be glimpsed on Abe Lincoln’s nose.  He was wearing his well-worn shine again. As predicted, the brown patina of the 2011 restoration had given way to the”petting” and “well wishes of 100’s of hands” seeking blessings from Old Honest Abe.  The tradition has carried on to Lincoln Hall’s second century.

The bronze relief plaque containing the words of the Address at Gettysburg was on our right.  The gold gilding of the column capitals and the rosettes in the vaulted arch of the ceiling, gave an inspiring elegance to this hall of remembrance.

In the elegance of this hallowed hall, Abe’s “accessible nose” adds a tactile legacy and fitting tribute to learning in the “Land of Lincoln.

  • Hermon MacNeil spent the summer of 1888 and the years of 1889-91 studying in Paris.  The following video shares some of the recent restoration of the Ecole de Beaux Arts.  This video tells the part of Ralph Lauren and company as benefactors to this world class seat of painting and sculpture.

Palais des Estudes in 2005 BEFORE restorations

Palais des Estudes in 2005 BEFORE restorations

Following photos are credited to Dan Leininger, webmaster,  from a tour of France in May 2015

Palais des Etudes in 2015 AFTER the restorations.

Palais des Etudes in 2015 AFTER the restorations.

 

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The inscription above the statues reads as follows “This monument begun under Louis XVIII, was completed in 1837 By Louis-Philippe”

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The year 1836 marks the beginning of the Hemicycle below.

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The Hemicycle of the Ecole Des Beaux-Arts, C.1836-41 was also brought back to life in the recent restorations. The original work was by Delaroche, Hippolyte (Paul) (1797-1856); French. Medium: oil on paper glued on canvas. Date: 19th Century. Les grands maitres autour d’Apelle, Ictinos et Phidias; 70 artists from antiquity to time of Louis XIV; architects and sculptors of the Parthenon; Provenance: Musee des Beaux-Arts, Paris France

The year 2016 marks the sesquicentennial of the birth of Hermon Atkins  MacNeil on February 27, 1886.

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

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

While we celebrate each February as “MacNeil Month,”  this year is extra special as the 150th anniversary of his birth.

Several events during 2016 will acknowledge that here on HermonAtkinsMacNeil.com:

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  • The newly commissioned 2016 MacNeil Medallion will be available for sale on eBay.  CLICK HERE
  • Postings will continue to celebrate the life and art of Hermon A. MacNeil.
  • Kisimul Castle the home of the MacNeil Chieftans from the 14th century, will be featured.
  • The origins of the MacNeil Clan on the Isle of Barra in Scotland’s Outer Hebrides will be visited with photos and history .
  • The webmaster’s ongoing travels and activity will be presented as his “Search for Uncle Hermon” continues as a odyssey of retirement.
  • Antique “MacNeil Postcards” of some of his sculptures across the U. S. will be presented as features.
  • MacNeil’s years in Paris will be revisited with photos of the newly restored Ecole de Beaux Arts where he studied and taught.
  • MacNeil’s teachers in Paris will be featured with photos of their sculptures in the Musee d’Orsay in the center of Paris. This museum was built as the railroad station for the Universal Exposition of 1900 in which MacNeil and his contemporary sculptors exhibited and received prizes.
  • Our recent Travels to Scotland will be featured with photos and stories.
  • Our travels to France this year will be shared.

ALL in ALL, 2016 begins as a banner year for this website. SO stay tuned.

Better yet, SUBSCRIBE by clicking the button.

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

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

Hermon A. MacNeil Commemorative sketched by Artist Charles D. Daughtrey as the seventh work in his Series of Coin Designers is available at http://www.cdaughtrey.com/

Hermon A. MacNeil Commemorative sketched by Artist Charles D. Daughtrey as the seventh work in his Series of Coin Designers is available at http://www.cdaughtrey.com/

Here at the HermonAtkinsMacNeil.com website we celebrate every February as

“MacNeil Month”

in honor of the birth of

Hermon Atkins MacNeil

February 27th, 1866. 

This is the first of several postings that will celebrate this theme.  Hermon’s older cousin, Tom Henry MacNeil (my grandfather), was born on February 29th, 1860.  So February is MacNeil Month in several ways.

Here is a recent video of the Sun Vow to start off our month of celebration:

[ CLICK HERE to SEE “SUN VOW” video ]

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My recent post about our December 3rd journey on the CTA Blue Line train to the Chicago Loop and the Art Institute of Chicago ended with a discussion of “The Sun Vow” and my photo array taken in the Sculpture Court.  [Searching for Uncle Hermon in Chicago ~ “The Sun Vow” ]

Another MacNeil piece just steps away in the adjoining American Gallery provides a “preface” to the story of “The Sun Vow”.

Modeled in 1894 that earlier piece was called “Vow of Vengeance.” It shows one of MacNeil’s early studies in Native American depiction.  It followed his exposure to the Chicago World Fair, his fascination with sketching the Indians in Buffalo Bill’s Wild West Show, and his modeling work with Black Pipe. (Black Pipe was a young Sioux who worked in Hermon’s studio and modeled for several pieces during 1893-94.  He helped with physical labor in the studio as well.  CLICK for MORE on Black Pipe and “Primitive Chant”) 

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MacNeil’s early study “Vow of Vengeance” that evolved into “The Sun Vow”. Art Institute of Chicago. [ Photo Credit: Dan Leininger, 2014 ]

Several pieces dated 1894 seemed to be early prototypes for later larger works and castings.  The “Vow of Vengeance” appears to be one of the more prominent.  I know of no other copies elsewhere.

A blog about the Art Institute observes some mingling of the identity of the two pieces:

The Vow of Vengeance -1894
By Hermon Atkins MacNeil.
What’s in a name?
Well, somehow I noticed a discrepancy in the name..
The Art Institute website calls it – The Vow of Vengeance [1894]
But marker at the Art Institute has the name – The Sun Vow [Modeled-1898, Cast-1901]. http://theartinstituteofchicago.blogspot.com/2010_12_01_archive.html.

 The Two “Vows” Compared  IMG_0698

While the “Vow of Vengeance” and “The Sun Vow” contain similar elements, what they communicate seems quite different:

  1. TITLE: The two titles carry contrasting emotional messages. The first (Vow of Vengeance) conveys negative aggression and hostile feeling toward some enemy, while the second (Sun Vow) depicts a more positive rite of passage from boyhood to manhood within a setting of family and tribal affirmation.
  2. GROUPING: The boy and the Elder (Warrior, Chief) are grouped to convey different emotional tones in the two pieces.  In “Vengeance,” the chief wears his war bonnet on his head. He is dressed to present tribal authority to the enemy. His face seems harsh and his posture stiff.  The Boy strains his head high up into the air.  Their grouping seems tense. IMG_0678In “Sun Vow” the two figures are closer and seem to be “more one.” The Chief has removed his bonnet so as to lean into the boy’s line of sight. The boy is also more grace-full. He looks to the arrow and the sun without straining.  Both gaze in the seeming wonder and mystical pleasure of the physical rite. 

1894 ~ Prototype Year:

In addition to the “Vow of Vengeance” we have found evidence of another prototype from 1894.

A previous posting tells James Dixon’s story of a MacNeil piece acquired by his Great-great grandmother, Edna Lord.  The sculpture bears the title  “Primitive Music” on its base.  [ CLICK Here for more ]

Photos on that previous post suggest that Edna Lord’s  “Primitive Indian Music” was an early prototype of the “Primitive Chant” (which was much more polished and finely surfaced)

It is also based on “Black Pipe”, the young Sioux Brave. MacNeil  first saw Black Pipe at the Buffalo Bills Wild West Show and we know that he returned many times to study the Indians.   Like MacNeil, I have return to this story of “Black Pipe”, the young Sioux Brave, numerous times, and perhaps, will return many more.  ~~  DNL

Hermon MacNeil ~ After the World’s Columbian Exposition

The period after the end of the 1893 Chicago World’s Fair was a lean, even dry time, financially for Hermon MacNeil. We do know that he continued to maintain a studio, sculpt models, teach at the Art Institute of Chicago, and associate with art colleagues and benefactors there. Yet, it seems a productive time of transition, expression, and experimentation for the as the young sculptor.

Traveling to the Art Museum, we walked out of the underground on Dearborn Street just a block south of the Marquette Building which is home to Hermon MacNeil’s 1895 sculptures of 4 bronze relief panels [Cick Here]. This commission marked his recognition and selection for the award of the Rinehart Roman Scholarship.  This began 3 years in Rome and another in Paris for he and his young bride, Carol Brooks. The bronze reliefs stands today as an icon to Marquette and his life among the Native peoples. The building has been restored by the MacArthur Foundation and now houses their international headquarters.

Those works tell the story Father Marquette explorations to Native peoples of Illinois. MacNeil would return to Chicago and the Marquette themes three decades later as he sculpted the bronze grouping [CLICK HERE] of Pere Marquette, Louis Jolliete, and an Illinois Indian on Marshall Boulevard.  Commissioned by the Benjamin Franklin Ferguson  Monument Fund, this sculpture has faced the greenway of the boulevard for 88 years.

Our trip was a satisfying success as our daughter took our pictures at hefoot of the Monument.

Our trip was a satisfying success as our daughter took our pictures at hefoot of the Monument.

I sit here in Chicago during this Christmas Season, imagining a Christmas wedding ceremony one hundred and nineteen years ago.

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On Christmas Eve day in 1895, Hermon Atkins MacNeil and Carol Louise Brooks purchased a Cook County license to solemnize their marriage. The very next day, Christmas 1895, they shared their vows before God and a Congregational minister named, Edward F. Williams, here in Chicago.  The record looks like this:

Marriage License of Hermon Atkins MacNeil and Carol Louise Brooks issued on December 24th, 1895 and completed on Christmas Day 1895 by Rev. Edward F. Williams, Congregational Minister.

Marriage License of Hermon Atkins MacNeil and Carol Louise Brooks issued on December 24th, 1895 and completed on Christmas Day 1895 by Rev. Edward F. Williams, Congregational Minister.

Both Hermon and Carol were sculptors. Hermon had completed 4 bronze relief sculpture panels for the new Marquette Building. They had fellow friends among the art community, sculptor colleagues from the  Chicago World’s Fair, students and teachers from the Art Institute of Chicago, and “White Rabbits” team of women sculptors.  We don’t have any record of who might have witnessed their nuptials.

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But it was Christmas Day, a time when families gather.  Hermon’s family was far away in Massachusetts. Carol’s was born in Chicago and studied there at the Art Institute with Lorado Taft working on the 1893 Worlds Fair with her “White Rabbit” colleagues. Perhaps some friends or family were present or even hosted some wedding celebration. Her parents were close enough to be present, but no evidence suggests that.  It appears to have been a quick, quiet, modest ceremony.  The less than a one-day turn around on their marriage license would support that.  In addition, we know that they sailed a week later for Rome and Hermon’s Roman Reinhart Scholarship studies there. A  December 22, 1895 – New York Sun, article (CLICK HERE) supports that as well as a letter from Amy Ardis Bradley [ CLICK for MORE ]

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New York Sun December 22, 1895 "The Reinhart Prize Winner ~ Hermon Atkins Macneil of Chicago"

New York Sun December 22, 1895 “The Reinhart Prize Winner ~ Hermon Atkins Macneil of Chicago”

The officiating minister, Rev. Edward (Franklin) Williams appears to have been a prominent clergy described as “a Congregational minister, educator, field agent for the United States Christian Commission, missionary, and writer.” Source: Edward Franklin Williams papers, Amistad Research Center at Tulane University, New Orleans, Louisiana )  He wrote Carol’s name as “Carrie” in his handwritten certification on the bottom of the license.  She went by ‘Carrie’ among her friends.

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Whether Rev. Williams considered her a ‘friend’ we do not know.  Philip Khopf, the Cook County clerk, wrote ‘Carol’ in the top portion of the certificate.  Rev. Williams could have copied “Carol” from the official record above, but chose to use ‘Carrie’ instead.  The license lists Carol as being 24 years of age and Hermon as 29.  We know that the minister was 63 years of age when he led their ceremony.  Until 1891 he was pastor of the South Congregational Church, in suburban Chicago.  For health reasons he had “an extended stay abroad (June, 1891 to July, 1893), primarily in Germany, where he pursued studies in Berlin.” Returning to Chicago he studied and lectured at Chicago Theological Seminary during 1894.

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Whether Rev. Williams had some previous knowledge with Carrie and Hermon or was a friend of the family, is uncertain.  He seemed very connected to the Chicago community and many of the potential benefactors of the arts. At a minimum, his use of “Carrie” seems to indicate a ‘cordial’ style of ministry and interaction. It also seems consistent with his servant-attitude toward needs of the soldiers and wounded he encountered during the Civil War.

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CLICK HERE for more Links and info about Hermon and Carrie’s marriage in 1895:

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More biographical information on Rev. Williams is offered below.

Williams, Edward Franklin (1832-1919)

 Historical Note: Edward Franklin Williams was a Congregational minister, educator, field agent for the United States Christian Commission, missionary, and writer.  Edward Franklin Williams was born in Massachusetts in 1832, the son of Delilah Morse Williams and George Williams. Williams attended Yale University from 1852 to 1856, and he continued to earn an advanced degree from Yale. He later attended the Princeton Theological Seminary, where he graduated and earned his license to preach in 1861.Williams was exempt from the draft due to a tubercular condition in his lungs, and thus he did not fight in the Civil War. In April 1863, Williams received a commission as a field agent for the United States Christian Commission. With the Commission, he served two and a half years in the armies of the Potomac and the James.After the war, Williams was sent as principal to begin was became the Lookout Mountain Educational Institutions in Chattanooga, Tennessee. In 1867, Williams was appointed by the American Missionary Association to teach in the Normal and Preparatory Division of what was later Howard University. He left Howard to preach at several churches in Massachusetts, Pennsylvania, Illinois, and New York, ultimately serving as pastor of Tabernacle Church in Chicago and Forty-Seventh Street Congregational Church, which later became South Congregational Church, in suburban Chicago, where he served until 1891.By 1880, Williams was writing a monthly column for The Congregationalist under a pen name, “Franklin.” He continued writing for this publication until 1908. He continued as a prolific writer, particularly in the 1890s.

From 1901 to 1911 Williams served as pastor of the Evanston Ave. Congregational Church in Chicago. Williams died in 1919 in Chicago.

[ Sources: Edward Franklin Williams papers, Amistad Research Center at Tulane University, New Orleans, Louisiana ]

 

 

WHAT YOU FIND HERE.

Nearby or far away, there is no ONE place to go and appreciate this wide range of art pieces. Located in cities from east to west coast, found indoors and out, public and hidden, these creations point us toward the history and values in which our lives as Americans have taken root.

Webmaster: Daniel Neil Leininger ~ HAMacNeil@gmail.com
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