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 Boston

 

"Moqui Runner", "Prayer for Rain"

"A Primitive Chant"

A MacNeil "Sun Vow"

"A Chief of the Multnomah"

 

Chief Manuelito of the Navajo sculpted by Hermon A. MacNeil in 1895 two years after the Chief's death at age 75.

This topic seems a strange fit for a website devoted to the art of Hermon Atkins MacNeil, an American Sculptor of the 19th and 20th centuries, born in Massachuesetts of Scottish descendents. 

Please, bear with me briefly while I take you on a journey toward today’s Native American Day story.  

STEP ONE:  An arrogant sense of Manifest Destiny often accompanied many 19th and 20th Century concepts of American culture, history, and pride.  An inescapable irony in our own 21st Century, is that Hermon MacNeil and many of his contemporary sculptors placed many Native American images at the center stage of the historical and allegorical sculptures of World Fairs from 1890 to 1915.  That is quite visible throughout this website.  I am beginning to find that MacNeil’s embrace of Native American themes in his sculpting, especially from 1895-1905, still offers us lessons more than a century later in understanding culture, anthropology and life values. 

STEP TWO:  Today is Native American Day in South Dakota, my home for the last 31 years.  I understand that California is the only other state celebrating a Native American Day.  “In 1989 the South Dakota legislature unanimously passed legislation proposed by Governor George S. Mickelson to proclaim 1990 as the “Year of Reconciliation” between Native Americans and whites, to change Columbus Day to Native American Day and to make Martin Luther King’s birthday into a state holiday. Since 1990 the second Monday in October has been celebrated as Native American Day in South Dakota.” [ Wikipedia: Native American Day:  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Native_American_Day ]  In April 1993, Governor George Mickelson, a friendly giant of a man, and eight civic leaders were killed in a tragic plane crash in Iowa.  His death was a great loss to this state and to hopes of Reconciliation.  We still observe the day, even if it is in a subdued fashion.

STEP THREEI am Daniel Neil Leininger, founding webmaster of HermonAtkinsMacNeil.com.  I am a Caucasian descendant of Scottish German stock. My maternal grandfather. Thomas Henry McNeil (1860-1932), was a cousin to Hermon Atkins MacNeil (1866-1947).  My mother, Ollie McNeil Leininger, always called Hermon MacNeil her “Uncle Hermon.” My middle name, Neil, was my mother’s gift.  It reminds me of my heritage.

STEP FOUR:  In researching the sculpture of MacNeil in recent years, I have developed a growing sense of “historical irony” in his placement of Native American images to symbolize the vitality of American expansion westward through his cultural era of Manifest Destiny.  His choice moves against the strong current of self-absorption in contemporary cultures, both his and ours.

MacNeil's sculpture design for the Award Medals at the Pan American Exhibitition, Buffalo, NY 1901 (reverse). Note the shields with South and North American continents

EXAMPLES 1-5: See photos above:

EXAMPLE 6:  MacNeil made a Pan American Exhibition Award Medallion with an indigenous North American and an indigenous South American sharing a Peace Pipe.  Probably a corrupted mix of Native images, but it is a allegory, a visually symbolic representation carrying a larger meaning.

THE STORY OF MacNEIL and CHIEF MANUELITO:

MacNeil never met Chief Manuelito.  Two years after his death, MacNeil made a statue of him using only a photograph supplied by trader C. N. Cotton. The year was 1895.  Thirty years earlier, Manuelito had survived the “scorched-earth” missions of the U.S. Army under Gen. James H. Carleton and Col. Kit Carson, the “Long Walk” (a 320 mile forced march of men women and children through the deserts) to Bosque Rodondo, and the imprisonment of Native peoples there for four years. 

Navajo Chief Manuelito - taken between 1868 and his death in 1893. He was a war Chief of the 1860. (photo Credit: ASU- Denver Public Library).

MacNeil made the statue  tribute out of available materials.  He built a wooden frame, a wire mesh surface and sculpted cement around it forming an eight foot two inch tall image of the Chief wrapped in a bright native blanket.   His techniques seem to mirror the many ‘staff plaster’ statues he made for the 1893 Chicago Worlds Fair.  He was visiting the southwest that summer with friends Hamlin Garland (writer) and C.F. Browne (artist) to experience the vanishing Native culture at the urging od E. E. Ayers and others.

As the story goes, after he finished he asked Cotton if the piece was acceptable.  Cotton left and brought in a group of older Native women to enter the canvas enclosure where MacNeil had setup a  open-air studio workshop.  After much weeping, the women, one of whom was Manuelito’s wife, came out obviously moved by the experience of being with the piece. 

See my previous stories on Manuelito and MacNeil, and MacNeil’s two friends, Hamlin Garland and C.F. Browne.

Edward E. Ayers was the  benefactor of the three artists  who urged them to make the trip.   A former member of the First California Cavalry Volunteers of the U.S. Army in AZ during the Civil War and the Native American oppressions of the 1860s,Ayers was stationed at the Cerro Colorado Silver Mine (now a ghost town) south of Tuscon in Pima County AZ.  He was in charge of 14 men who guarded the silver mine from robbers.  While there he happened on a copy of William H. Prescott’s Conquest of Mexico placed there by the mine’s owner Col. Samuel Colt, of revolver-fame. Ayers devoured the book repeatedly and began his life-long insatiable interest in Native American literature, manuscripts, and culture.  He became an American business magnate, who is “best remembered for the endowments of his substantial collections of books and original manuscripts from Native American and colonial-era history and ethnology, which were donated to the Newberry Library and Field Museum of Natural History in Chicago.”  [ Wikipedia ]   (Editors Note: Ayers passion for understanding and preserving Native American culture continues into the 21st Century  through the legacy of his estate now bequeathed to Newberry Library, Field Museum and related archieves.)

One hundred years after MacNeil make the trip and completed the piece, Joe Di Gregorio, (Gallup businessman and grocer), stepped in to rescue the Manuelito statue.  It was badly needing repair and being stored in a warehouse going up for sale.   Leslie Linchicum of the Albuquerque Journal relays this account in her March 2010 story:

“Longtime Gallup grocer Joe Di Gregorio and his wife, Christine, own the statue. They took custody after the building’s owner, in negotiations to sell to an out-of state buyer in 1983, turned to Di Gregorio and whispered, “Don’t let the bastards take the Indian.” Di Gregorio didn’t. He agreed to take custody of Manuelito and promised to keep him in Gallup.” [“Navajo Leader Stands Tall” Albuquerque Journal, March 11, 2010]

Now 116 years after MacNeil’s visit, McKinley County Fine Arts Commission in Gallup, NM is restoring the nearly 9 foot fragile artwork that MacNeil built in an outdoor tent.  “Carolyn Milligan, chairwoman of the … Commission, has estimated that it will cost $25,000 to $38,000 to restore the sculpture, which has deteriorated from a hundred years of rail yard soot, showers with a fire hose and a well-meaning but inept repainting.” 

Milligan continues, “The 1,000-pound piece is fragile, …. Wherever it stands, she said, it will probably attract crowds.”  “It’s really quite a commanding piece,” Milligan said. “And it’s for the people.”

BEST WORDS OF THE DAY: “Don’t let the bastards take the Indian.” MacNeil and Manuelito would probably smile to hear those words.  While virtually all of the ‘staff plaster’ sculptures of the World Fairs have crumbled to dust, Manuelito still stands tall. 

After all, he does belong to the people, centuries of people, both Native and otherwise. 

THAT’s WHY I BELIEVE THAT: MacNeil’s embrace of Native American themes in his sculpting from 1895-1905 still offers us lessons in culture, anthropology and life values for the 21st Century.

MORE HISTORY:

1.) For further irony read my previous stories of  the making of Hermon MacNeil’s 1895 sculpture representing Chief Manuelito of the Navajo or read history of this Chief of the Navajo starting here.

2.) William Wroth’s “Long Walk” to Bosque Redondo  also provides poignant insight into this period of the United States management of Native American peoples and the life of Chief Manuelito who was part of that “Long Walk” and signed the treaty of 1868 that sought to restore Navajo lands after the disastrous interventions of the US government.

3.) “The Long Walk”  A Ten (10) Part video story of the Navajo “Fearing Time” accounting atrocities against the Navajo people from 1863 to 1868.  Researched and produced with support of the George S. and Delores Dore’ Eccles Foundation and the Pacific Mountain Network.   Part 1Part 2Part 3Part 4Part 5Part 6Part 7Part 8 Part 9Part 10.

4.)  “The Long Walk”   For a Navajo perspective view this video by Nanebah, whose great-great grandmother survived “The Long Walk”.

5.) “300 Miles – Or Long Walk Of The Navajo – Richard Stepp”  For a musical tribute with an ‘American Indian Movement’ perspective.

6.) Leslie Linthicum, staff writer for the Albuquerque Journal,  gives a delightful article, “Navajo Leader Stands Tall”.   It offers historical irony from our 21st Century on attitudes toward Native American culture  through her story of the ‘management’ and ‘preservation’ of MacNeil’s iconic statue of Chief Manuelito.

Related posts:

  1. 1901 Pan-American Exposition – Buffalo, New York ~~ “The Rainbow City” (10.3)
  2. MacNeil Sculpture “Meets Me in St. Louis” (20)
  3. Expositions and World’s Fairs ~ Hermon A. MacNeil (15.6)
  4. MacNeil at the 1893 Columbian Exposition ~ ~ ~ THE CHICAGO YEARS ~ ~ (10.8)
  5. https://hermonatkinsmacneil.com/2011/03/26/1904-louisiana-purchase-exposition-saint-louis-worlds-fair/

Images of Hermon A. MacNeil’s sculpted medallion for the 1901 World’s Fair are as coveted today as they were 110 years ago. Here are three examples:

EXAMPLE #1 from 2010.

Below, a recent You Tube posting shares a trio of MacNeil’s beautiful Medals in Bronze, Silver and Gilt finishes. Thanks to Will of the American Association of Young Numismatists (AAYN) [See note #1 below], for making this video of these rare MacNeil medallions.   Thanks as well, to website contributor and friend, Gibson Shell of Kansas City for his alert eye in finding this first beautiful example.

Mellin's Food Company of Boston, a maker of 'baby formua', touts their wars with the MacNeil image at center stage of their ad. "Baby formula' was a radically new idea in 1901. Their product had to compete with mother's breast milk, an already accepted product with a much longer history. The Gold Medal from the Pan American Exposition gave their new product a greater recognition for quality and acceptance.

EXAMPLE #2 from 1901. 

Manufacturers were so proud of winning the Gold Medal at the Pan American Exhibition that they displayed it prominently on their advertisements.  Here in the ad below, the Mellin Food Company of Boston, a maker of ‘baby formula’, touts their wares with the MacNeil image at center stage of their ad. “Baby formula’ was a radically new idea in 1901. Their product had to compete with mother’s breast milk, an already accepted product with a much longer history. The Gold Medal from the Pan American Exposition gave their new product a greater recognition for quality and acceptance.

EXAMPLE #3 from 1901. 

Here is another Gold Medal winner. F. R. Pierson a horticulturist operating a nursery and greenhouse at Tarrytown-on-Hudson, N.Y., won Eight Gold Medals at the 1901 Buffalo World’s Fair.  His advertisement states that this is, “the largest number awarded any firm on the Flori-culture Department.”  The ad enumerates the company’s prize-winning selections of Rhododendrons, evergreens,  roses, cannas, bay trees, fig-leaf palms and hydrangeas.   AND of course it bears MacNeil’s Pan American Exposition Medallion prominently at the top corners of the advertisement. [CLICK ON IMAGE TO ENLARGE]

CLICK TO ENLARGE - The W. R. Pierson Company's advertisement offers another example of the esteem with which manufacturers and businesses held the Gold Medal competitions over a century ago.

MACNEIL’S MEDALS

These MacNeil sculpture medals were  made by the Gorham Manufacturing Company of Boston, a quality producer of fine silver since 1832.

CLOSE UP VIEWS. 

Pictured below are near-life-size images of Hermon A. MacNeil’s sculpture design for the Award Medals at the Pan American Exposition, held at Buffalo, NY in 1901.  All award medals were struck from the same design whether in Bronze, Silver or Gold. These below are silver medals.

MacNeil's sculpture design for the Award Medals at the Pan American Exposition, Buffalo, NY 1901 (front)

MacNeil's sculpture design for the Award Medals at the Pan American Exposition, Buffalo, NY 1901 (reverse). All award medals were struck from the same design whether in Bronze, silver or gold. These are silver medals.

“PHYSICAL LIBERTY” 1904.

The buffalo image on the Obverse face of this medallion bears a resemblance to a MacNeil work he made  three years later. That larger-than-life sculpture at the 1904 World’s Fair in Saint Louis, Missouri  was known as “Physical Liberty”  (see below).  It stood at the top of the Cascade at that Exposition celebrating the 100th anniversary  of  the Louisiana Purchase. Ironically, MacNeil’s allegorical figure used Native American images to symbolize the vitality of American expansion westward. 

HISTORICAL IRONY?

A near arrogant sense of Manifest Destiny often accompanied such 19th Century concepts of American pride.  An inescapable irony today, in our own 21st Century, is that MacNeil and many of his contemporary sculptors placed such Native American images at the center stage of these World Fairs.  MacNeil’s embrace of Native American themes in his sculpting from 1895-1905 still offers us lessons in culture, anthropology and life values more than a century later. 

MORE HISTORY:

1.) For further irony read my previous stories of  the making of Hermon MacNeil’s 1895 sculpture representing Chief Manuelito of the Navajo or read history of this Chief of the Navajo starting here.

2.) William Wroth’s “Long Walk” to Bosque Redondo  also provides poignant insight into this period of the United States management of Native American peoples and the life of Chief Manuelito who was part of that “Long Walk” and signed the treaty of 1868 that sought to restore Navajo lands after the disastrous interventions of the US government.

3.) “The Long Walk”  A Ten (10) Part video story of the Navajo “Fearing Time” accounting atrocities against the Navajo people from 1863 to 1868.  Researched and produced with support of the George S. and Delores Dore’ Eccles Foundation and the Pacific Mountain Network.   Part 1Part 2Part 3Part 4Part 5Part 6Part 7Part 8 Part 9Part 10.

4.)  “The Long Walk”   For a Navajo perspective view this video by Nanebah, whose great-great grandmother survived “The Long Walk”.

5.) “300 Miles – Or Long Walk Of The Navajo – Richard Stepp”  For a musical tribute with an ‘American Indian Movement’ perspective.

6.) Leslie Linthicum, staff writer for the Albuquerque Journal,  gives a delightful article, “Navajo Leader Stands Tall”.   It offers historical irony from our 21st Century on attitudes toward Native American culture  through her story of the ‘management’ and ‘preservation’ of MacNeil’s iconic statue of Chief Manuelito.

NOTE #1: 

The American Association of Young Numismatists (AAYN) is an association dedicated to educating and impassioning young people about the hobby of coin collecting. We hope our videos help spark your interest in numismatics.

Book Source: http://www.cityofeverett.com/Everett_files/historical/herman_macneil.htm

  • Today is the 145th Anniversary of Hermon MacNeil’s birth.
  • The above celebrates his life from the Everett, Massachusetts city website.

In his 1924 interview, McSpadden suggests that an artistic strain ran through MacNeil’s family.  “His uncle, Henry Mitchell, was a steel-engraver and gem-cutter, and was versed in heraldry.”

He quotes Hermon,

“My mother painted … but it was the usual copy work of the good old days, when every girl was expected to have an accomplishment, and most of them did samplers.  She evidently liked her painting, as I still have one of her pictures.” (p. 309)

MacNeil’s own skills and art interests seemed to have developed early on.  He explained to McSpadden:

How did I come to take up art? I fell into it naturally. I remember that as a boy in my teens, attending the public schools, I looked forward eagerly to Friday afternoon; for then it was that we had our one art class each week. It wasn’t much to boast of — just some cubes and such like inanimate objects for pencil drawings on paper, but I thought it was great.” (p. 309)

He told of a “trivial little incident” when the teacher left the room.  Upon his return, most of the class was “skylarking” (frolicking, playing, boisterously).   Displeased, the teacher admonished the class.  Then he walked the aisle looking at drawings.  Singling out several students, including Hermon, he said,

‘Now if you would turn out good work like this and this‘ —  and yes, yours too’ (to Hermon). As MacNeil shared this account some 40 years after the incident, he told McSpadden, “I had only been included in a general commendation, but that little remark has stuck with me to this day.” (p. 309-10)

At Hermon’s urgent request, his parents sent him to State Normal Arts School in 1886.  In that year, the new Massachusetts Normal Art School building was constructed at the corner of Newbury and Exeter Streets (See map in Jan 27th posting below).

MassArt - present day Massachusetts College of Art and Design was established in 1873 as Boston Normal Art School.

“I told my parents it was what I wanted to do above everything else.” It was a stiff four-years’ course, where everything was taught in the line of art — painting draftsmanship, drawing for mathematical and engineering subjects, architecture and sculpture, — and MacNeil took them all.  it was not until the last year that he reached sculpture, and by that time he had determined that this was what he wanted to make his life-work.  “I went through the whole gamut, and the further I went the more it laid hold of me,” he avers. (p. 310)

Source:  Joseph Walker, Famous Sculptors of America, pp. 307-326.

One month from today, February 27, 2011 will mark the 145th Anniversary of the birth of Hermon Atkins MacNeil. We here at HermonAtkinsMacNeil.com will be celebrating February as MacNeil Month.

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/

We will be with posting information about the sculptor’s early life history (such as is available).BIRTH: Hermon was  born in 1866.  Most sources say in Chelsea, Massachusetts, now an inner urban suburb of Boston, the capital city.  Chelsea borders Boston Harbor  only about three miles from what is now Logan International Airport.  The Chelsea area is much like the little peninsula of College Point in Queens, New York where Mac Neil would later set up his New York studio home in about 1904.)

In a 1924 interview with Hermon at the College Point studio, J. Walker McSpadden stated that the sculptor was born “at Plattville near Chelsea.” Plattville is 40 miles south of Chelsea and 35 miles south of Boston.   Even more sources associate “Hermon MacNeil” with ‘Everett’ Massachuesetts.  Just Googling those 3 words gave me 6 hits for Everett MA as his birthplace. Whether he was born in Plattville and moved shortly after is unclear.  There are MANY MacNeil’s in this area of Massachusetts and surrounding New England (or should I say ‘New Scotland?’).  Perhaps Hermon was born at the home of grandparents or other relatives.  What is clear is that for the next 26 years he would live, grow, and study in immediate area of Chelsea/ Boston .

At the age of 20, he received his first formal training in the arts at the Normal Art School in Boston in 1886.  According to the timeline for MassArt on Wikipedia this was the same year that the new art school building was opened:

A current Google Streetview of this corner shows a quaint old city neighborhood.   The old stone building on the northeast corner of the intersection says “First Spiritual Temple,” a Spiritualist church. According to wikipedia:

On the corner of Exeter and Newbury Street—the address is given both as 181 Newbury Street and as 26 Exeter Street—is a striking building designed by Boston architects Hartwell and Richardson in the Romanesque Revival style. It was originally built in 1885 as the First Spiritual Temple, a Spiritualist church. In 1914 it became a movie theater, the Exeter Street Theatre.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Newbury_Street_%28Boston%29

NEXT WEEK: MORE ABOUT MacNeil”s EARLY YEARS AT HOME AND BOSTON.

In the meanwhile find more about MacNeil on our website at:

https://hermonatkinsmacneil.com/about-2/

Here is a Google Map of the corner of Newbury and Exeter Streets in Boston.  Enjoy lookin’ around!

[mappress mapid=”16″]


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
Hosting & Tech Support: Leiturgia Communications, Inc.
COME BACK & WATCH US GROW

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