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”

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 ]

 

 

On a cold December day we took the CTA Blue Line to Jackson street and walked out of the underground on Dearborn Street at the Federal Court Building.  We were just a block south of the Marquette Building which is home to Hermon MacNeil’s 1895 sculptures of 4 bronze relief panels [Cick Here] that tell the story Father Marquette explorations to Native peoples of Illinois.

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We walked past the Federal Courts, then turned east toward the Art Institute of Chicago.

There sculptor Edward Kemeys’ twin bronze Lions (Mr. Defiance and Mr. Prowl) greeted us at the entrance in their Holiday regalia. They have stood guard there since 1893 when Mrs. Henry Field commissioned them.

Above is “Mister ‘In-an-Attitude-of-Defiance’,” as he rests on a Christmas package that normally is his base.  The mood was festive as sixty people smiled and waited on the steps (between Mr. Prowler and Mr. Defiance) until the Museum doors were opened at 10 am.

1) Prowler and Defiance,  2)Mrs. Henry Field, and 3) Hermon MacNeil are all contemporaries of the 1893-95 era of the Chicago World’s Fair (Worlds Columbian Exposition).

Once inside we spent the morning admiring early art of Dutch and French collections. Eventually, we came opon a fovorite, Jules Adolphe Breton’s The Song of the Lark, (1884).

Part of the Field Collection, French artist, Jules Adolphe Breton's The Song of the Lark, 1884. is admired by a happy visitor.

Part of the Field Collection, French artist, Jules Adolphe Breton’s The Song of the Lark, 1884. is admired by a happy visitor.

After some lunch in the modern art area, we went to find MacNeil’s “Sun Vow”.  Here are my results.

While I could go on-and-on about this most famous of Uncle Hermon’s works, I will let my photographs speak for themselves.  Enjoy!

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Dan Leininger holds the “Galley” for Summer 2014 with MacNeil’s “Pony Express” statue on the cover and an 8 page feature story inside.

“Clan MacNeil Connections and Hermon Atkins MacNeil”

The current issue of the Clan MacNeil Association of America magazine has a feature story on Hermon Atkins MacNeil by webmaster, Dan Leininger

The Galley edited by Vicki Sanders Corporon titles Dan’s story as “Clan MacNeil Connections and Hermon Atkins MacNeil.” The feature and photos fill 8 pages in the “Galley” issue for Spring/Summer 2014.

Ezra Cornell statue at Cornell University, Ithaca, NY was dedicated in 1918 after WWI.

Ezra Cornell statue at Cornell University, Ithaca, NY was dedicated in 1918 after WWI.  Page 19 of the “Galley” (This Photo from Cornell University is Courtesy of Chris Carlsen).

 

 

Page 20 of  “Galley” for Summer 2014

Page 20 of the “Galley” for Summer 2014

The featured photos include the East Pediment of the Supreme Court Building in Washington, D.C. (with a detail close-up of Moses, Confucius, and Salon); The George Rogers Clark monument in Vincennes, IN at the site of his victory over the British in 1779; Confederate Defenders of Charleston, SC; the Young Lawyer Abraham Lincoln in Champaign, IL; General George Washington on the Washington Arch, NYC, NY. Also in this article are photos of the grouping Coming of the White Man in Portland, OR; The WWI Angel of Peace Monument in Flushing NY; and a bust of Dwight L. Moody (who MacNeil sketched during the 1893 Chicago Worlds Fair.

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Page 18 of the “Galley” for Summer 2014

Dave Blue. An oil painting on canvas board signed "H.A. MacNeil SC" in two places.

Dave Blue. An oil painting on canvas board signed
“H.A. MacNeil SC” in two places.

WHO IS DAVE BLUE ?

Another mystery oil painting entitled “Dave Blue,” has surfaced through an inquiry on this website.  The work is signed, “H. A. MacNeil SC” in two places.

Patrick Orr wrote from Connecticut,

“IS IT POSSIBLE THAT I HAVE A PAINTING BY H.A. MACNEIL?”

Patrick included several photos from which the detail at your right enlargement below were taken.

Dave Blue. An oil painting on canvas board signed "H.A. MacNeil SC" in two places.

Dave Blue. An oil painting on canvas.

In our ongoing correspondence,  I explained  to Patrick the following:

A. MacNeil often placed the letters “SC” after his signature on works meaning “Sculptor.”  This was his standard manner of signing his works. Interesting that he did so to an oil painting as well.  See numerous examples on the masthead photos on my website.

B. MacNeil is known to have painted oils. Mostly for fun or gifts.  My mother had an oil painting as a wedding gift that he gave her in 1929.

C. You have a unique and interesting piece. Just on the basis of looking at the pictures, I would say there is little reason to doubt that this piece is what it claims to be.

D. I doubt that a forger would bother to make a fake “MacNeil” oil painting.

E. Hermon would sketch when he went places or saw interesting people. He had an artists eye.

I asked Patrick where he got the work:

“The painting belonged to my grandparents, and when they died I asked my uncle if I could have it. I always liked it. I have no idea how they acquired it.”

“My grandparents and their grandparents are from the lower west side of Manhattan.  In the 1970s my grandparents moved to CT.  I don’t remember any stories unfortunately, but I will ask my mother.  They definitely treasured it.  Everybody always commented on it.”

“Who was Dave Blue?  Did he live in a cave?  Was he blind?  Was he a freed slave or son of slaves?  A mystery and so very intriguing.”

SO, Pat Orr agreed that I could post his “MacNeil Mystery” on my website. The next day another email arrived from Patrick:

“I have some interesting information for you. I spoke with my mother and she said H A MacNeil was a neighbor of my great grandparents in the Catskills. They had a summer house there, and he had one down the road. Apparently, my great grandfather was his doctor. In fact, H A did a bronze bust of my great grandfather which my brother has now at his house. The painting I have was a gift he gave to them.

… Unfortunately, my mom doesn’t know about the history or background of the painting itself. She doesn’t know when or where it was done.”

That fits in with the sticker on the back of the canvas being from a New York art supplier. I can imagine him picking up the canvas in New York, and then taking it with him on his travels and using it to do the study of the old black man.”

SO, the intriging “MacNeil Mystery” remains:

“Dave Blue who lived under the ground.”

  1. Who was Dave Blue?  

  2. Did he live in the ground?  

  3. Was he blind?  

  4. Was he a freed slave or son of slaves? 

Maybe we will get responses from other painting owners.

Maybe “Mr. Blue” has some relatives out there.

THANKS PAT, for making us curious.

H.A.MacNeil ~1895 sketch - Chicago-Sun

H.A.MacNeil ~1895 sketch – The Sun (New York City)

Today, February 27, 2014 marks the 148th anniversary of the birth of Hermon Atkins MacNeil, born this very day in 1866.  So each February, we celebrate “MacNeil Month” in his honor.

In 2010, I formally began searching for “Uncle Hermon” in several ways.  First, I  built this “digital gallery” of his life and work as a sculptor.  HermonAtkinsMacNeil.com is a website dedicated to making his sculpture and career available to the world.

In this virtual gallery you will find over 600 photos and 130 stories of Hermon MacNeil’s life and work.   His statues of George Washington from Washington Arch, NYC; Ezra Cornell at Cornell University, William McKinley at Columbus, Ohio; Abraham Lincoln at Champaign, Illinois; Pony Express at St. Joseph, Missouri; Pere Marquette in Chicago; and monuments in Philadelphia, Charleston, Albany, and Flushing, and dozens of other cities can be studied here.

Hermon A. MacNeil Commemorative by Artist C. Daughtrey is available at http://www.cdaughtrey.com/

Hermon A. MacNeil Commemorative by Artist C. Daughtrey is available at http://www.cdaughtrey.com/

These sculptures, statues, monuments are scattered from Washington, DC to Portland, Oregon, and from New York City to Gallup, New Mexico.  A web search of the name “Hermon MacNeil” can bring you here.

HOW DID YOU FIND the Hermon MacNeil website?

Please add comment below.  Tell us what brings you here.

Secondly, this year I joined the Clan MacNeil Association of America.  I did not know its existence until I saw the 1928 news story of the MacNeil plaque dedication in Red Springs.  I have shared MacNeil stories at the annual family reunion of my siblings and our children and grand children.  In August 2013 I attended the Longs Peak Scottish Irish Highland Fest in Estes Park.  What a great celebration of Celtic pride.

Keep watching as I continue the search and research on Hermon Atkins MacNeil.

We celebrate “MacNeil Month” each February.  This February 27, 2014 marks the 148th anniversary of the birth of our patron sculptor, Hermon Atkins MacNeil.   During MacNeil Month 2014 here at HermonAtkinsMacNeil.com , we will share some biography of Hermon A. MacNeil gleaned from my “search for ‘Uncle Hermon’.”

Hermon Atkins MacNeil ~American Sculptor

MacNeil Clan history, like all family history, is filled with people we have never met.  One MacNeil who has always fascinated me is Hermon Atkins MacNeil.  Researching “Uncle” Hermon has also led me to another amazing man, Robert Lister MacNeil. Both men were present when the Clan MacNeil Association of America was formed ninety-three years ago. 

MacNeil kinsman. 

Kisimul Castle, built on an island in Castlebay, Barra is the seat of the current clan chief, Rory MacNeil, and was restored from a ruinous state by his US born grandfather in the early 20th century. Archaeological evidence has revealed that there has been human occupation on the island since at least the Bronze Age. The present castle dates from the 14th century.  http://www.greatscottishclans.com/clans/images/clan_macneil_castle.gif

Kisimul Castle, built on an island in Castlebay, Barra is the seat of the current clan chief, Rory MacNeil, and was restored from a ruinous state by his US born grandfather in the early 20th century. Archaeological evidence has revealed that there has been human occupation on the island since at least the Bronze Age. The present castle dates from the 14th century.  ( Credit: http://www.greatscottishclans.com/clans/images/clan_macneil_castle.gif )

On May 26, 1921, the Clan MacNeil Association of America was organized in New York City.  Central to that moment were Robert Lister MacNeil, (The MacNeil of Barra – 45th Chief of the Clan), and Hermon Atkins MacNeil, a sculptor, who served as the clan’s first president.  At that time, Robert Lister was 32 years of age, a practicing architect in New York City, and a veteran of the First World War. He had succeeded to the chiefship of the Clan MacNeil just six years earlier.  His dreams of the Isle of Barra and restoring Kisimul Castle (as told in his book The Castle in the Sea) were but faint hopes that would await decades and the efforts of many MacNeils for their accomplishment. 

His other kinsman was Hermon Atkins MacNeil. Hermon was the older of the two, an accomplished sculptor, also practicing in New York City, he had already created a myriad of statues, sculptures, monuments, as well as, the U.S. Standing Liberty Quarter first minted in 1916.  Although these two MacNeils were 23 years apart in age, they were both trained in Paris at the Ecole des Beaux Arts, a school for architects and sculptors in the Classic Greco-Roman styles.  A lasting bond between them formed through their shared artistic talents, professional skills, and years of Clan MacNeil activity.

Hermon MacNeil designed a bronze plaque that was unveiled and dedicated on May 28, 1928 on the campus of Flora MacDonald College in Red Springs, NC. The plaque commemorated the 1735 landing of Neil MacNeil of Jura, Scotland with 350 followers.  This group made up mostly of clan members landed at the Cape Fear Settlement in North Carolina. The plaque was placed on a red granite stone and marked another clan project shared by these two men.

In his later years, Robert Lister stated: “Hermon was an outstanding sculptor and one of my dearest friends all the rest of his life.”  In 1970, six years after publishing those words, Robert Lister MacNeil died at the age of 81.  Twenty-three years earlier (in 1947), Hermon Atkins MacNeil had died, also at the same age of 81.  All of the above was discovered as I “searched for Uncle Hermon.” I never met either of these two MacNeil men. The more I learn of them both, the more striking I find the parallels in their lives.

Upcoming: MacNeil Roots and Pursuits

WHAT YOU FIND HERE.

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

Webmaster: Daniel Neil Leininger ~ HAMacNeil@gmail.com
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WE DESIRE YOUR DIGITAL PHOTOS – Suggestions

1. Take digital photos of the entire work from several angles, including the surroundings.
2. Take close up photos of details that capture your imagination.
3. Look for MacNeil’s signature, often on bronze works. Photograph it too! See examples above.
4. Please, include a photo of yourself and/or those with you standing beside the work.
5. Add your comments or a blog of your adventure. It adds personal interest for viewers.
6. Send photos to HAMacNeil@gmail.com Contact me there with any questions. ~~ Webmaster