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 Illinois

“Abraham Lincoln” with Marian Fretueg (right) and head librarian (left) greeted us at Rushville Public Library.

My previous posting on May 13, 2019 (CLICK HERE) shared another discovery of this website.  Namely, for nearly a century an additional “Lincoln Lawyer” bust has made its a home on the Illinois prairie in Rushville.

Well, I could not resist a visit there.  So, I took a side trip to Rushville on a recent vacation voyage through my old home state of Illinois.

And guess what I found? Ta Dah!

Another of Hermon MacNeil’s “Lincoln Lawyer” was found at the Rushville (Illinois) Public Library. The happy webmaster was pleased to see it and meet the Library staff

 

I am sure you recognize Abe Lincoln.  Well the guy smilin’ on the right is me, Dan Leininger [the “happy webmaster of https://hermonatkinsmacneil.com/ ].

Rushville is county seat of Schuyler County. The ‘new’ Public Library is located about seven  blocks north of the downtown.  The concrete sidewalks, driveway, and parking lot give easy access to walk-up, drive-up, or pedal-up traffic. The Stone and buff-brick building is clean, inviting with open access to all stacks.

Marian Fretueg a board member and volunteer (pictured on far right), sent an email inquiring about my knowledge of this bust by Hermon A. MacNeil.

Marian asked the Library Board for permission to publish the re-discovery of the “Lawyer Lincoln” bust on this website.

She said that the donor of the bust was Albert Morris Bagby of New York City.  He grew up in Rushville, Illinois and became a successful musician studying with Franz Liszt. She said, “He left our little town and studied in Germany and then ended settling in New York City.”

Mr. Bagby had the bust shipped to Rushville in 1928 to be temporarily placed at the city’s library for the enjoyment of all the patrons.  Marian stated, “For some reason or other, the sculpture was never moved from our library.   It is now proudly on display in the new building for the Rushville Public Library. 

Bagby began his “Musical Morning” show in 1891 at his own private studio at 152 W. 57th Street. MacNeil later taught at the Art Students League of New York located in the American Fine Arts Building, one block away, at 215 West 57th Street,Several years later he moved it to the Waldorf-Astoria, the Unofficial Palace of New York, located on 34th Street at 5th Avenue. His life story is a fascinating one.  CLICK HERE:

I suspect that there must have been some connection between Hermon MacNeil and Mr. Bagby. MacNeil had studios in Manhattan, NYC. Maybe we could link the histories of these two men.  That would make a great story to research the two men and the possible intersection of their lives.

Hermon sculpted many statues and monuments around NYC. He also did private work with many persons of prominence there.  

Mr. Bagby. He obviously donated many items to his hometown through the years. His heart never seemed to lose affection for his home town.  Rushville may not have been fully aware of the “treasure” that their native son left them in the “Lawyer Lincoln.”  Perhaps the new Rushville Public Library home can raise community awareness and pride in this treasure and history. 

Bagby, Albert Morris, 1859-1941

Biographical notes:

Albert Morris Bagby was born in Rushville, Illinois on April 29, 1859 to Mary Agnes Scripps of Jackson, Missouri and John Courts Bagby from Glasglow, Kentucky. After completing his primary education in the United States, Bagby traveled to Europe to study music.

He first studied under Professor Scharwenka at the Berlin Conservatory and later with Franz Liszt in Weimar. Before Bagby died in 1941, he was considered one of the last links to Mr. Liszt. Though never a virtuoso performer himself, Bagby was an ardent admirer and pupil of the great pianist and so devoted his life to the patronage of music and performance. (Time Magazine, March 10, 1941)

After returning from Europe, Bagby was invited to give music lectures at various socialite clubs in New York. These lectures, often with piano accompaniment, turned into luxurious concerts. At first Bagby sought to call his recitals “Matinee Musicale,” but at the urging of his friend, Miss Louise McAllister, the name was changed to “Musical Morning.” (The Unofficial palace of New York, p. 99)

The first official Musical Morning was held in 1891 at Bagby’s own private studio at 152 W. 57th Street in New York. The concert series was so popular that a larger space was needed. (Emanuel Feuerman, p.89) Bagby refused to rent public music halls, which he felt would destroy the personal and intimate nature of the performance. Fortunately, an ideal site for performance and private society presented itself when a new hotel opened its doors on 5th Avenue and 34th Street. The Waldorf-Astoria (on 34th Street, and then in 1929 its new location) became the new home of Bagby’s Musical Morning, remaining so until its end in 1941. (The Unofficial palace of New York, p. 97,100)

Following each Musical Morning (which were attended by subscription only), Bagby would host a lunch for a few dozen of his most notable guests. Conversing easily with royalty, socialites and skilled musicians, Bagby became a popular figure in the social life of Europe and America. (Time Magazine, March 10, 1941)

Offering performances by almost every distinguished artist in the United States, Bagby succeeded in both providing elite entertainment and funds for The Bagby Music Lovers’ Foundation, Inc. The foundation, established at the 300th Musical Morning in January, 1925 was set up to give pensions to elderly musicians as a “reward for their unforgettable service to music.” (The Unofficial palace of New York, p. 95, 101)

In addition to his life work with Musical Morning, Bagby also traveled to Europe quite extensively, attending performances at Richard Wagner’s Bayreuth Festival and visiting friends.

While living at the Waldorf-Astoria in New York, Bagby received hundreds of letters and postcards from the European royal families who had attended his performances and seen him in Europe. Most of the letters thanked Bagby for his kindness and generous gifts.

With most of Europe in turmoil after the Second World War, it was often difficult to purchase books and magazines in English. Bagby, being the generous individual that he was, acted almost as a courier service, sending books, encyclopedias, and subscriptions to National Geographic and The Spur to various European royal families. The missives also contained personal notes about the family’s wellbeing, and a request that Bagby visit next time he was in Europe.

Besides being a musician, Bagby was also a writer. When he was younger he contributed to various periodicals, and in 1895 published his first novel, a musical romance entitled Miss Traumerei. In 1904 he wrote Mamie Rosie, a fictional account a young musician’s journey to stardom.

Later in life Bagby gave back to his home town by donating various volumes, statues and paintings to the Rushville Public Library. Albert Morris Bagby died of pneumonia on February 27, 1941 at the age of 81, ending his five-decade career as director of Musical Morning. (Time Magazine, March 10, 1941).

  • From the description of [Albert Morris Bagby collection]. 1890-1960. (Pritzker Military Library). WorldCat record id: 236876955 http://snaccooperative.org/ark:/99166/w6s76w29

  • The Unofficial Palace of New York: A Tribute to the Waldorf-Astoria, hardcover – 1939 by Frank Crowninshield (Author).

 

 

Here are my two favorite young Chicagoans coming back from a theater performance of “Hamilton”. They stopped and posed below the second panel.

In 2019 the Marquette Building construction has the four bas relief panels (above the doors) protected under scaffolding while the edifice is under repair.  >—–>>

Hermon MacNeil’s first studio home was  in the Marquette Building of Chicago in 1895. His wedding reception for him and Carol Brooks was hosted there on Christmas Day eve 1895.

From that same location, his Four Bronze Panels over the front doors have been telling the story of Father Marquette for 124 years.  They welcome visitors into the Marquette Building, just as the Native Americans met and welcomed the European explorers to Northwest Territory.  The Native Americans who lived in these regions include the Ojibwa, Huron, Ottowa, Illini, Potawatomi, and Menominee.  MacNeil placed these tribes on the Marquette Memorial Statue on Douglas Avenue in 1926.

MacNeil carved the tribal names in the Marquette Memorial of 1926. His moccasins are exquisite in detail, looking life-like.

 [(These Panels were refurbished to their original bronze luster in 2009.) CLICK HERE]

“Over the doors of the main entrance are panels of bronze, designed and executed by Mr. Herman A. MacNeil, illustrating incidents in the life of Pere Marquette in his explorations of the Mississippi River and the state of Illinois…The inscriptions below are panels taken from Marquette’s diary.” 
Architectural Reviewer, July 1897

Before the remodeling the panels look like this. MacNeil’s bronze panels of 1895.

MacArthur Foundation began restorations in 2001.

Marquette Building at 140 S. Dearborn Ave in Chicago with four MacNeil bronze sculptures above the entry doors

The John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation began ongoing restoration phases after acquiring the structure in 2001.

These phases include the following:

In 2001, the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, its current owners, began a multi-year renovation.[18] The restoration to the exterior proceeded in two phases: reconstructing the cornice and replacing the 17th story windows to match the original windows; and cleaning and restoring the masonry and restoring the remainder of the windows.[8][19] Restoration architect Thomas “Gunny” Harboe directed this work.

The Foundation has invested in multiple restorations.

The Marquette and Joliette faces of MacNeil’s 1899 bronze reliefs at the Marquette building in the Loop resemble those likenesses he placed in his larger statue grouping on Douglas Avenue in 1926.

The Foundation website describes the History of the Panels as follows:   “Herman (sic: Hermon) MacNeil was a trained sculptor who worked on sculptures for the 1893 World’s Fair. After commissioning MacNeil for the exterior bronzes, Aldis wrote to Peter Brooks, “McNeil’s [sic] panels are being placed in position. It is greatly to their and his credit that these bas-reliefs have won for him the Roman [Reinhart] Fellowship. The Commission, choosing him as the best of the very young men…The young sculptor was married on Christmas Day, and sailed for Rome on Wednesday, and is, on the whole, the most happy young man I know. He is very grateful to the owners of the Marquette Building.” CLICK HERE

MacNeil modeled Black Pipe after meeting him in Buffalo Bill’s Wild West Show at the Chicago Worlds Fair.

 

 

The fine features of the child contract those of the weathered warriors.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

https://lh3.googleusercontent.com/p/AF1QipMoXrdAoOT7PRD-QcwjCC96VrRg_aDC7F7aay66=s1600-w1600

“Lincoln Lawyer” Hermon MacNeil’s sculpture bust of Abraham Lincoln. Pictured at its home for the last 91 years.

Since 2010, this website has become a gathering point for questions and information about Hermon Atkins MacNeil.

The most recent inquiry came from the “Land of Lincoln” about MacNeil’s Abraham Lincoln which depicts the young Illinois lawyer in his clean-shaven years riding the 8th Circuit of the Illinois Court.

Marian Fretueg wrote the following:

While I was doing some research I came across a 1928  Rushville Times of Rushville, Illinois newspaper article which told of a bust of Abraham Lincoln sculpted by Hermon A. MacNeil purchased by Albert Morris Bagby of New York City.  Mr. Bagby had the bust shipped to Rushville and was to be temporarily placed at the city’s library to be enjoyed by all the patrons.  Rushville, Illinois was Mr. Bagby’s hometown.  For some reason or other, the sculpture was never moved from our library and it now proudly on display in our new library.

After some research I could not find where this sculpture is mentioned anywhere, there was a bust of Abraham Lincoln at the University of Illinois at Champaign-Urbana.  Were you aware of this sculpture?  I am sure it is the real thing with his name and the bronze factory where it was made on the base of the sculpture. 

I have included a picture of the bust, the autograph of Mr. MacNeil’s and the stamp of the Roman Bronze Works.  There is also a copy of the accessions book where the bronze bust was given to the library in 1928.

It was so exciting when I was reading about Mr. Bagby’s gift and then reading about Mr. MacNeil and how famous he was.  I would love to hear from you and find out if you were aware of this bust.  

Thank you so much for your time.

Marian Fretueg

The distinctive signature of the artist on the back of the bust. LincolnRushvilleIL-4.jpg

LincolnRushvilleIL-4.jpg

Dear Marian Fretueg,

Thank you for your kind email and the lovely pictures of Rushville Public Library’s “Lincoln Lawyer” By Hermon Atkins MacNeil. I ask your permission to publicize this work as the Webmaster of HermonAtkinsMacNeil.com

I can tell you are a researcher, because you found my ‘digital museum’ dedicated to the life and work of Hermon A. MacNeil, or as my late mother called him, her “Uncle Hermon”

I would like to visit the Rushville Library to meet you and to photograph this piece for posting on my website. Your piece has its own history in Rushville as a “Land of Lincoln” community with a benefactor donating this beautiful monument to the prairie lawyer who rode the 8 Circuit that covers Rushville and much of Illinois.

To my knowledge eight (8) of these MacNeil Works were cast at Roman Bronze Works (RBW) in New York City. The Rushville piece would appear to be the 5th of the eight that I am able to locate with my website and help from researchers like yourself.  As the enclosed link tells the history, the original statue was a Standing Lincoln submitted in about 1924 for a contest of a commission which MacNeil did not win.  

About 1928 he had 8 busts cast at RBW using the original Standing Lincoln as his model.  Lorado Taft loved the piece and recommended it to the University of Illinois to grace the marble foyer of Lincoln Hall at the university.

The Hall was remodeled about 2010. I have humorous stories in the link below that tell how the Lincoln Lawyer bust was “locked-up” for safe keeping during the 1 year of reconstruction. It was also “kidnapped” by students at one point in the university’s history. 

I have 11 different stories (postings) that come up in a search of “Lincoln Lawyer” as I call this piece of MacNeil work. There are 2 pages that come up on this brief search. Click below to see the articles in the search: 

https://hermonatkinsmacneil.com/?s=lincoln+lawyer

Thus began our discussion on this recent discovery.

Thanks to Marian Fretueg and Rushville Public Library, photos of another “Lincoln Lawyer” by Hermon MacNeil has been added to the website.

This accounts for five of the eight castings made at Roman Bronze Works in 1928.

STAY TUNED FOR MORE OF THE STORY of Rushville’s Lincoln to be posted later.

Roman Bronze Works of New York City was a casting foundary that made thousands of bronze statues on the 19th and 20th centuries

Roman Bronze Works (RBW) of New York City was a casting foundry that made thousands of bronze statues on the 19th and 20th centuries

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Mary Lawrence was a talented sculptor.  All that is left of her work in the 1893 World’s Fair are the pictures, as depicted below.

“Christopher Columbus” by Mary Lawrence at the World’s Columbian Exposition, 1893, Chicago, Illinois

She became one of The White Rabbits along with Carol (Carrie) Brooks (MacNeil) and numerous other “women assistants” to Lorado Taft and other male sculptors.  They helped create “the White City” as the 1893 Chicago Worlds Fair was known. The material was temporary, made of staff plaster, and modeled on wooden and medal frameworks.  The elegance of the White City inspired 

Lawrence was a pupil of Augustus Saint Gaudens at the Art Students League of New York for five years.  In that period, she proved her skills many times over. 

In the Chicago exhibition, her work with the White Rabbits was overpowered by an accomplishment central to the Court of Honor.

Saint Gaudens’ recommended that she create the theme statue of the exposition, namely, the monumental center-piece of Christopher Columbus. 1 This work was to be placed in the Court of Honor at the entrance of the Administration Building. 

Frank Millet, who served as Director of Decorations, resented that a woman “had been selected, and seemed to bear her some personal animus as well.” 2   Seeing the piece put on such a prominent place, he ordered her to move the statue to the plaza of the railroad station. Lawrence complied even though Charles F. McKim, architect for Exposition, had told to place the work at that location.  His authority to do so was second only to Daniel Burnham, the Chief Coordinating Architect.

She approached McKim a second time to tell him of the change.  He had the statue returned to the Court of Honor at the Administration Building entrance.  McKim worked with Augustus Saint Gaudens on many projects.  He was introduced to Mary Lawrence by Saint Gaudens as they collaborated in New York on early plans for the Exposition in Chicago.

Though McKim was twenty years senior to Mary Lawrence, Bruce Wilkinson describes their relationship in this way:

“Her good looks and high spirits made her popular with the young and the not so young.  Charles Follen McKim, whose second wife had died tragically after one short idyllic year, fell in love with her and remained a little so all the rest of his crowded life.”

Kim, Burnham, and especially, Lorado Taft were open to women as students and sculptors. Their show of support in the White Rabbitsdecision advanced opportunities for women for years to come. 

Janet Scudder (1869-1940) was one of Taft’s students who described her own the joy filled elation and that of her White-Rabbit-sisters in the following way:

“Janet describes working under Loredo as “That wonderful year! Filled with work, filled with accomplishment and filled with what was considered in those days a very fat salary!”[2] The salary was so large that, upon being paid, “We rushed back to our rooms at the hotel, opened the envelopes and poured out the five-dollar bills (for some reason we were paid our hundred and fifty dollars in five-dollar bills,) and carpeted the floor with them. We wanted to see what it felt like to walk on money.” [3] 3

The Joy of the “White Rabbits” changed their lives and the future of sculpture.

Women and men working on figures for the East entrance to the Horticulture Building in Taft’s section of the World’s Columbian Exposition. Chicago History Museum Images. SOURCE: [ At: https://discoverherstory.wordpress.com/2018/01/08/white-rabbits-american-women-sculptors/ on March 1, 2019.]

 

Footnotes:

  1. White City

    Most of the buildings of the fair were designed in the neoclassical architecture style. The area at the Court of Honor was known as The White City. Façades were made not of stone, but of a mixture of plaster, cement, and jute fiber called staff, which was painted white, giving the buildings their “gleam”. Architecture critics derided the structures as “decorated sheds”. The buildings were clad in white stucco, which, in comparison to the tenements of Chicago, seemed illuminated. It was also called the White City because of the extensive use of street lights, which made the boulevards and buildings usable at night.
  2. Bruce Wilkinson, Uncommon Clay: The Life and Works of Augustus Saint Gaudens. Harcourt Brace Jovanovich, Publishers, Orlando, Florida, 1985, p. 249
  3. Ibid.
  4. Janet Scudder: “White Rabbits: American Women Sculptors”. [ At: https://discoverherstory.wordpress.com/2018/01/08/white-rabbits-american-women-sculptors/ on March 1, 2019.]

 

I never met Hermon MacNeil.

I never met my maternal grandfather, Tom Henry McNeil.  

ALL OF LIFE and our family histories are filled with people we HAVE NEVER MET.

In 2014 I wrote an article for the MacNeil Clan Magazine,

The Galley.

I include the the pages and the text of that article below in this post:

The photos can also be viewed in this previous post. 

Hermon Atkins MacNeil – American Sculptor – (1866-1947)

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 was formed ninety-three years ago. 

MacNeil kinsman.

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.

Dan “Neil” Leininger in a MacNeil kilt at Kisimul Castle, Isle of Barra, Scotland 2014. WHAT A TOUR it was!!!

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.

MacNeil roots. The third MacNeil man that I never met was my own grandfather, Tom Henry McNeil (1860-1932). Whenever my mother spoke of her father or of her “Uncle Hermon,” I would see a certain smile on her face and a sparkle in her eye.  Emotionally, recalling her McNeil memories seemed to take her to “a very pleasant place.” On the MacNeil family tree, her father and Hermon MacNeil were first cousins. But “Uncle Hermon” was what the whole family always called him and what he always considered himself to be. Though she did not share them often, my mother’s stories instilled in me a sense of “wonder” about these two “MacNeil” men. 

Genetically, my mother gave all of us six children her MacNeil biology, but when I first realized that my parents also gave me the middle name of “Neil,” I felt some extra portion of my Scottish ancestry. That feeling has only grown as I get older.  My grandfather McNeil died before I was born.  I was just two years old when Hermon MacNeil died.  Now as an old man myself this MacNeil heritage and my memories of the sparkle in mother’s eyes have expanded my interest in these three MacNeils, and in the many other MacNeils that I have yet to meet.

MacNeil pursuits. So I am pursuing my MacNeil Clan interests in several ways.  In 2010 I formally began searching for “Uncle Hermon” by building a “digital gallery” of the life and work as a sculptor. I built HermonAtkinsMacNeil.com, a website dedicated to making his sculpture and career available to the world. A web search of the name “Hermon MacNeil” will take you there.  His sculptures, statues, monuments are scattered from Washington, DC to Portland, Oregon, and from New York City to Gallup, New Mexico.  Now this virtual gallery features over 500 photos and 125 stories of Hermon MacNeil’s life and work.  There you can see 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.

In 2013 I became a member of 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.  For the last three yearsI have shared “MacNeil stories” at our annual family reunion of my siblings and our children and grand children.  In August 2013 I went to my first Highland Festival. My nephew in Colorado  told me about the attended the Longs Peak Scottish Irish Highland Fest in Estes Park.  What a great celebration of Celtic pride and heritage.

Donna and I have booked our spots on the 2014 MacNeil Clan Tour of Scotland.  We reserved our passage before I received the Fall/Winter issue of The Galley with Rory MacNeil’s invitation to the World Gathering of the Clan MacNeil on the Isle of Barra from August 4-7, 2014.  We hope to meet some of you there this summer.

  1. I joined Clan MacNeil Association I have attended the 2013 Estes Park Highland Fest
  2. I have booked spots for Donna and I on the 2014 MacNeil Clan Tour of Scotland
  3. I continue to research HAM

In the 1890’s Women Sculptors were not accepted as students by many established sculptors. One exception was Larado Taft of Chicago. He taught and encouraged many female student artist to develop their skills as sculptors.

Lorado Taft and sculpture class

Description:Photograph of Lorado Taft and his sculpture class at the Chicago Art Institute (ca. 1890s). Identified individuals are Carrie Brooks McNeil (seated, front left), Julia Bracken (seated front right), Will LeFavor (standing second from left in checkered apron), and Lorado Taft (standing third from right in black vest). (Note 1)

The White Rabbits

The story is told by Wikipedia as follows: As the date of the f air’s opening grew closer, Taft realized that he would not be able to complete the decorations in time. Discovering that all the male sculptors he had in mind were already employed elsewhere, he asked Daniel Burnham if he could use women assistants, an occurrence that was virtually unheard of at that time. Burnham’s reply was that Taft could “hire anyone, even white rabbits, if they can get the work done.” Taft, an instructor of sculpture at the Chicago Art Institute who had many qualified women students and who frequently employed women assistants himself, brought in a group of women assistants who were promptly dubbed “the White Rabbits.”

One side note:  The White Rabbits helped build the White City, as the Chicago Fair was called.  “Thine alabaster cities gleam, undimmed by human tears”  were the words that Katherine Lee Bates wrote in 1895 in her poem “America, the Beautiful.”  Samuel A. Ward composed the hymn tune in 1882. It was combined with Bates’ poem in 1910 and published as “America, the Beautiful.” Read the complete history HERE  . The words became part of the third verse inspired by her seeing the Columbian Exposition “White City” in 1893. 

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/White_Rabbits_(sculptors)

From the ranks of the White Rabbits were to emerge some of the most talented and successful women sculptors of the next generation. These include:

Horticultural Building

Horticulture Building of World’s Columbian Exposition in Chicago in 1893. Women Sculptors nick named the “White Rabbits” created much of the work on this building. Carol Louise Brooks (later MacNeil) was one of those sculptors. (Note 2)

Besides their work on the Horticultural Building, several of the White Rabbits were to obtain other commissions to produce sculpture at the Exposition. Among these were Lawrence’s statue of Columbus, placed in front of the Administration Building, Yandell’s Daniel Boone for the Kentucky Building, Bracken’s Illinois Greeting the Nations in the Illinois Building, and Farnsworth’s Columbia for the Wisconsin Building.

Enid Yandell’s “Daniel Boone” in Louisville, Kentucky
Note 3. SOURCE: PJ Chmiel https://farm1.staticflickr.com/196/497505305_c32f7e852d_b.jpg
Horticulture Building of World’s Columbian Exposition in Chicago in 1893. Women Sculptors nick named the “White Rabbits” created much of the work on this building. Carol Louise Brooks (later MacNeil) was one of those sculptors. (Note 2)

Notes:

  1. Original photo found in RS 26/20/16, Box 25, Art Institute Classes. Phys. Desc: TIFF     Original photo is 7.75″ x 4.5″ ID:0006291. Repository: University of Illinois Archives. Found in: Lorado Taft Papers, 1857-1953. Subjects: American SculptureChicago Art Institute Taft, Lorado, 1860-1936. Rights:This image is in the public domain. Please contact us if you would like to purchase a high-resolution copy of the image.
  2. [CREDITS: By C.D. Arnold – Arnold, C.D., The World’s Columbian Exposition: Portfolio of Views, Issued by the Department of Photography, National Chemigraph Company, Chicago, 1893, Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=29205089]
  3. PHOTO: Daniel Boone statue; by PJ Chmiel. See his gallery on Flickr: https://www.flickr.com/photos/pjchmiel/  also https://farm1.staticflickr.com/196/497505305_c32f7e852d_b.jpg

 

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