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 Buffalo

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.

 

McKinley's pose here resembles MacNeil's statue of him in 1904. (Credit: Frances B. Johnson- Ohio Historical Society-AL00501)

The following article (by our Webmaster) was accepted for posting on the THE HISTORICAL MARKER DATABASE added to the existing story there.

MacNeil's McKinley at Ohio Statehouse plaza

 

3.   H. A. MacNeil Sculpted the McKinley Monument in Columbus Ohio.
Hermon Atkins MacNeil (1866-1947) sculpted this monument consisting of the statue of President McKinley and the two accompanying grouping of figures on either side. These extra figures seek to represent the values that McKinley lived out and for which grieving citizens chose to remember him.

Industry & Trade are symbolized by the first group. The man of great strength instructs the youthful student beside him. Here the artist seeks to depict strength and wisdom being passed on to the next generation. The other figures, a gracious woman ( “Prosperity” ) with her arm encircling a little maiden ( “Peace” ) are meant by MacNeil to symbolize those ideals as well as the joy and virtues of domestic life. These female figures are placing the palm leaves and flowers of peace over the sword and helmet of war.

MacNeil commented twenty years after completing this monument that while he worked very hard on sculpting the portrait of the President, he could follow his fancy in making the other figures. They only needed to convey the values and ideals consistent with McKinley and the Monument’s purpose there on the Capitol Plaza. MacNeil considered them all some of his finest works. Note To Editor only visible by Contributor and editor

— Submitted March 18, 2011, by Dan Leininger of Sioux Falls, South Dakota.

History books record it.    ~~~    Public records document it.

~~~    But have you ever seen it?

Hermon MacNeils bust titled “Agnese” as pictured in Lorado Taft’s “History of American Sculpture” in 1904.

In his 1904 book “The History of American Sculpture,” Lorado Taft reviews various works by our favorite sculptor ~~ Hermon A. MacNeil.  Taft mentions:

“Two busts of women modelled by him are among the finest works yet produced by an American. Herbert Adams alone has surpassed the ” Agnese ” (Fig. 72), which was done in Rome from a patrician beauty, and exhibited at Buffalo in 1901. ” Beatrice,” a later work, is no less beautiful in execution, though somewhat strained in pose. These busts illustrate the artistic conscience of the sculptor, his delight as well as his skill in pure modelling. Earnest and industrious, he is blessed with a continuity of energy which counts for more than paroxysms of effort.”   (p.445.)

Taft mentions that the “Agnese” was exhibited in the  1901 Pan American Exhibition (Buffalo World’s Fair). The image (Fig 72 in Taft’s book) may have come from that exhibition. We do not know the source of this image that Taft used.  Nor over a century later, do we know of other images of “Agnese.”

This sculpture appears“Mysterious” in many ways.

  • her smile seems both beguiling and alluring;
  • the picture shows a sculpted bust that appears to stare unnervingly at the viewer;
  • the stark, overhead lighting heightens or creates the sense of a stare;
  • the background gives no hint of a context, a place, or any identifying features;
  • her mysterious smile seems to imply a knowledge not shared with the viewer;
  • the letters “AGNESE” on the corner of the base offer the only identity, yet itself a still a mystery.

Questions that remain in this stage of research include:

  • What is the composition of this statue? Marble? Paster?  Other?
  • Why can we find no other pictures of this piece?
  • Was there only an Original “Agnese” and no other copies?
  • What was the fate of this statue?
  • Is “Agnese” in private hands?
  • Does she still exist?

Other than that, I have NO questions!

Related Images:

Sculptures that Hermon A. MacNeil’s exhibited for the 1901 Pan-American Exposition in Buffalo, New York.

The above works that Hermon A. MacNeil’s exhibited in Buffalo for the 1901 Pan-American Exposition are listed in:

“The Catalogue of the Exhibition of Fine Arts.” Pan-American Exposition: Buffalo, 1901. (p. 45-46; p. 59).

pp. 45-4. H. A. MacNeil:

#1613. The Sun Vow – Silver Medal, Paris Exposition, 1900.

#1614. The Moqui Runner – Silver Medal, Paris Exposition, 1900 (Lent by E. E. Ayer, Esq)

#1615. Bust — Agnese

#1616. Bust – [Lent by C. F. Browne, Esq.]

p. 59.

MacNeil, H. A., 145 West 55th Street, New York, N. Y. (II*) 1613-1616

*II – indicates MacNeil exhibited in “Group II – Sculpture, including medals and cameos” p. 49.

Some of these people mentioned in that exhibition record were to be long term colleagues, friends and patrons of MacNeil’s art and career.

Charles Francis Browne was a painter and friend who accompanied Hermon MacNeil and author, Hamlin Garland, to the southwest in the summer of 1895. They wanted to gain direct experience of American Indians to inform their art. What the trio found reflected in their respective painting, sculpture and writing.

MacNeil’s subsequent sculptures of Native Americans after that summer of 1895 continued a cultural focus that began with his friendship and sculpting of Black Pipe, the Sioux warrior. He first met Black Pipe at the Buffalo Bill Wild West Show at the Chicago World’s Fair in 1893.  The Sioux modeled for MacNeil and later worked in his studio for over a year.

Edward Everett Ayers was an art patron to both MacNeil and Browne.  He had been a Civil War Calvary officer stationed in the southwestern United States.  He became a lumberman who made a fortune selling railroad ties and telephone poles. He urged MacNeil to travel to see the vanishing West of the American Indian.  He became an arts benefactor whose art collections are now housed by the Art Institute of Chicago, as well as, the Newberry Library.

All the above is but a small part of the history woven into this simple Exhibition catalogue entry from 1901.  More later on Macneil’s mysterious “Agnese.”

Related Images:

Between 1893 and 1905 Hermon Atkins MacNeil and his sculptures were involved in four World’s Fairs.  The Pan-American Exposition in Buffalo, New York (1901) was the second of these events. Popularly known as the 1901 World’s Fair in Buffalo NY, over 8 Million people attended the exhibition.

University of Deleware ~ Special Collections website offers this description;

The most unusual aspect of the Pan-American was the color scheme of its buildings. Unlike the pristine design of the “White City,” the architectural plan of the Pan-American was to build a “Rainbow City.” The buildings were done in a Spanish Renaissance style and were colored in hues of red, blue, green, and gold. The Electric Tower, the focal point of the fair, was colored deep green with details of cream white, blue, and gold. At night, thousands of electric lights outlined the buildings.

"The Sun Vow" (photo courtesy of Gib Shell)

Hermon Atkins MacNeil's "The Moqui Runner" (The Moqui Prayer for Rain -- The Returning of the Snakes) 1896, cast 1897.

In the year 1900, MacNeil returned to the United States after three years in Rome and a fourth back in Paris.  He settled in New York City. Within a year, MacNeil set up a home and an adjoining studio in College Point, Long Island (now Flushing, Queens ). His studio became his work place for the next four decades.

MacNeil’s “Sun Vow” and the “Moqui Runner” were both exhibited at the 1901 Fair.  The “Sun Vow” had received a silver medal at the Paris exhibition of 1900.  It was exhibited again at the Columbian Exposition of 1904 — the Saint Louis World’s Fair. As the years passed, it would become his best known work.  (Webmaster’s Note: It recently graced the cover of the 2010 Denver Art Museum publication, “Shaping the West: American Sculptors of the 19th Century”)

At the Buffalo Exhibition he was asked to do the pediment sculptures for the Anthropological Building, as well as a grouping known as “Despotic Age.”  Craven described the work as follows:

The spirit of despotism with ruthless cruelty spreads her wings over the people of the Despotic Age, crushing them with the burden of war and conquest and draging along the victims of rapine (plunder), a half savage figure sounds a spiral horn in a spirit of wild emotion. (Craven, SIA, p. 518)

MacNeil’s sculpture design for the Award Medals at the Pan American Exhibition, Buffalo, NY 1901 (front)  [ photo credits: CCya at http://www.coincommunity.com/forum/topic.asp?ARCHIVE=true&TOPIC_ID=25738

MacNeil designed the official gold medal (displayed here in silver) struck in celebration of the Pan American Exhibition.  His commissioned design bears a youthful woman standing beside a buffalo on the obverse side. She represents the triumph of the intellect over physical power.  The reverse depicts two Indians with a sharing a peace pipe. One, a North American Indian, extends the extends the pipe to the South American Indian.  Craven notes that

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

MacNeil chose to portray the theme of “Pan-American friendship through images of the red man, not the white man.” (Craven, SIA, P. 519).  We can also observe that this choice extended MacNeil’s selection of native people into a second continent. [Photo credits CCya at http://www.coincommunity.com/forum/topic.asp?ARCHIVE=true&TOPIC_ID=25738]

President William McKinley was assassinated at the fair. On Sept. 6, 1901, Leon Czolgosz shot President McKinley in the Temple of Music, a pavilion of the Buffalo, New York, Pan-American Exposition. Eight days later, on Sept. 14, McKinley was dead.  We do not know if MacNeil was present at the Fair when the President was attacked.  In some sense, President McKinley’s overshadowed the rest of the Exposition. Buffalo promoted the event in order to be seen as a prosperous, modern, technologically-advanced city,.  Instead  Buffalo became seen as the city of the assassination.

McKinley making his last public speech before he was assassinated, Buffalo, New York, September 5, 1901. (His pose in this photo resembles that of MacNeil's statue of him in 1904). (Credit: Frances B. Johnson-Ohio Historical Society-AL00501)

In the  years following The Buffalo Exhibition, a series of important commissions would raise him to prominence as a major American sculptor. One of those was, oddly enough, was the McKinley Monument Statue and Plaza at the front of the Ohio State Capitol Building where McKinley served two terms as the governor of the state.

The only remaining building of the fair is the New York State Pavilion.  It is now the home of the Buffalo and Erie County Historical Society. (see map) A boulder marking the site of McKinley’s assassination was placed in a grassy median on Fordham Drive

1901 Pan-American Exposition links: (active as of this posting date)

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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