Archive for Evanston
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”)
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 
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.
While the “Vow of Vengeance” and “The Sun Vow” contain similar elements, what they communicate seems quite different:
- 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.
- 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. In “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.
Eda Lord, (the woman who purchased the MacNeil bronze statue, “Primitive Indian Music” ~ 1894), attended the World’s Columbian Exposition on “Chicago Day.” Jim Dixon sent us a scan of his great-grandmother’s actual Ticket to the Chicago World’s Fair.
Eda Lord was not alone. Chicago Day was packed. A total of 716,881 people attended for “Chicago Day,” October 9, 1893. That day commemorated the anniversary of the Great Chicago Fire of 1871. The ‘Chicago Day’ marked Chicago’s rebirth.
Every day of the Chicago World’s Fair marked the city’s arrival on the world-scene. While New York City, Washington, D.C., and St.Louis, had all competed for this ‘Columbian’ 400-year-extravaganza, Chicago won the honors (and labors). The CWE invited America to come take notice that this western-railroad-cattletown was now a cultural-financial center. Like Columbus himself, the European “Old World” of art and architecture had crossed the Atlantic Ocean and resurrected in this “New World” of American progress, industry, and prosperity. Now along the shore of this inland Great Lake a “White City” fantasy had emerged. Crafted from the hands, talents, and imaginations of American “Beaux Arts” artists, sculptors and architects.
And like Eda Lord, from all over the United States, Canada, South America, Europe, Asia and the world, they came. In total, over 27,000,000 million people attended the entire 1893 Columbia International Exposition. That number was half of the US population of 54 million then.
I told Jim Dixon that just seeing his Great-Grandmother Eda’s ticket made me wonder:
- How old was Eda Lord when she attended the Fair?
- Who would she go with?
- Would a lady attend alone?
- She lived in Evanston, north of the city. She could have rode the train from there in less than an hour into the “White City”.
- She might have passed the “Buffalo Bill Wild West Show” on her way to the main Gate.
Here is what Jim told us about the ticket:
I started pouring through the boxes of family history tonight. I have a long way to go, but I found something that is perhaps a clue. Of all things, Eda Lord saved a ticket stub from the World’s Columbian Exposition for “Chicago Day” on Oct 9th 1893. The ticket is numbered and obviously a part was torn off. It is in perfect shape. Attached is a scan of the ticket. Much more exploring to do and I will send along anything relevant that I find.
Well Jim, You have quite a find! That is a valuable souvenir. And a family history keepsake.
HERMON ATKINS MACNEIL:
Hermon MacNeil was there as well. For three years he worked on drawings, plans and sculpture.
MacNeil sculpted figures on the Electricity building (MORE HERE). He was only 27 years old then. He had returned from study in Paris from about 1888 – 1890. He came to Chicago to work with Phillip Martiny. Some say he stopped in New York to get a letter of recommendation from August Saint-Gaudens to give to Martiny in Chicago.
A hundred or more artists sculpted the White City. Many would be MacNeil’s contemporaries and colleagues through his life. Carol Brooks, who Hermon MacNeil would marry two years later, was also one of the women sculptors called in at the last months to finish the plaster-staff statues that adorned the Fair. (Carol had studied sculpture with both Lorado Taft and Frederick William MacMonnies) Carol was also a member of “The White Rabbits” ~ a self-christened group of women sculptors called in to complete the massive work load of ‘staff’ statues needed for the Chicago Fair in 1893. ).
Also to see my post CLICK HERE (look for their ‘Marriage’ paragraph.)
HERE ARE CLOSE-UP PHOTOS THAT SUGGEST THAT THIS “Primitive Indian Music” PIECE WAS AN EARLY PROTO-TYPE OF THE “PRIMITIVE CHANT” STATUE (WHICH WAS MUCH MORE REFINED AND POLISHED IN ITS CASTING FINISH.)
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. ( I have ordered two books on Buffalo Bills Wild West Show, the Indians, conditions, treatment etc.)
We will return to the story of “Black Pipe”, the young Sioux Brave. Perhaps, like MacNeil, we will return many times. ~~ DNL
MacNeil’s “Pat and Jim” were recently remembered as a play place.
“We used to climb on them,” Cindy told me yesterday. Cindy explained how as a child she would climb up from the back “Jim” to sit on his shoulders. Her perch atop this eight foot tall bronze athlete must have delighted both the little girl and the 40-something woman who now walked across Sheridan Road to inform me of her childhood game.
At the time I was photographing “Jim,” more correctly, “Physical Development,” as MacNeil titled the piece in 1916.For the last 94 years, “Jim” has stood outside Patten Gym on the northern edge of the Northwestern University campus in Evanston, Illinois.
His nearly century long vigil has been shared by his partner piece, “Pat,” or more correctly, “Intellectual Development,” as the companion sculpture was named. For a previous story on these two works go to this “Patten Gym” posting.
As quickly as Cindy appeared, she quickly went on to her next destination. I wish I had gotten her full name and photo to post here. I have found no previous MacNeil enthusiasts who have successfully climbed one of his sculpture. I suppose children are more welcome than we adults.
While the abstract themes of “Physical and Intellectual Development” were what the campus designers envisioned and what Hermon A. MacNeil delivered in the “Beaux Arts,” style, the two classic Greco-Roman figures of athlete accomplishment and scholarly wisdom were soon to receive more manageable “nicknames.” As a previous post on this website suggests:
Northwestern students, however, have given them the ‘very punny’ nicknames of “Pat and Jim” or more colloquially, “Pat’nJim.” The similarity to “Patten Gym” is quite amusing. Such whimsy may have been known by MacNeil in his day. His choice of the ‘tortoise and the hare’ pair on the Supreme Court pediment document his own whimsy in stone. Let us all smile as well!
The Northwestern University website tells the story in this way:
In the building’s early years its entranceway was ornamented with pure gold plating, and in 1917 Patten commissioned artist Hermon MacNeil to design statuary appropriate to an atmosphere of athletic aspiration. MacNeil responded with bronze figures of a man and a woman. The statues have been known to generations of students by the fond nicknames of “Pat” and “Jim.” When in 1939 Northwestern planned the construction of the Technological Institute, it was clear that the Patten Gymnasium would have to be moved to accommodate the new engineering building. Subsequently a decision was made to demolish the structure and construct a new gymnasium, also to be named for James Patten. One of the most important events held in the building during its final year was the first NCAA basketball tournament, on March 27, 1939, where the University of Oregon Ducks beat the Ohio State Buckeyes by a score of 46-33.
The original Patten Gymnasium was razed on April 1, 1940. MacNeil’s statues were retained and today grace the entrance of the present Patten Gymnasium, dedicated during Homecoming on November 2, 1940.
The art was completed by Hermon A. MacNeil in 1916. These Northwestern commissions were completed in 1916, the same year as the minting of the first Standing Liberty Coin (click to see more).
It was a busy period in MacNeil’s career.