Archive for Paris
The Musee d’Orsay in the center of Paris was originally built as the railroad station for the Universal Exposition of 1900. MacNeil and his contemporary sculptors exhibited and received prizes in that competition.
It now is a Museum. Sculptures made by MacNeil’s teachers are a part of the exhibits. MacNeil had many teachers in Paris at the Ecole Des Beau Arts. Below are the signatures of A [Alexandre] Falguiere and H [Henri] Chapu from two of their marble sculptures.
Alexandre Falguiere (1831 – 1900)
Falguiere’s sculpture of Tarcisius was completed in 1867 when MacNeil was just 1 year old.
Henri Chapu (1833-1891)
- Hermon MacNeil spent the summer of 1888 and the years of 1889-91 studying in Paris. The following video shares some of the recent restoration of the Ecole de Beaux Arts. This video tells the part of Ralph Lauren and company as benefactors to this world class seat of painting and sculpture.
Following photos are credited to Dan Leininger, webmaster, from a tour of France in May 2015
Without Robert Thurston’s rescue, Hermon MacNeil’s first attempt at sculpture may have never survived MacNeil’s own self-critical judgement.
The story of that event was published six years later accompanying this ‘celebrative’ news story in the New York Evening Post. It recounts how Thurston saved MacNeil’s first work just as he was ready to breakup the clay piece. In so doing, Thurston nurtured the ‘tender’ confidence of his first Instructor of Art to strive as a sculptor, to study in Paris (1889-90), and eventually to win the Rinehart Scholarship (1895).
SATURDAY. DECEMBER 14, 1895.
~ A Cornell Sculptor ~
Ithaca, N. Y., Dec. 13, 1895
Hermon Atkins MacNeil, formerly Instructor in drawing here, now of Chicago, has won the Rinehart Roman prize in sculpture entitling the holder to a studio and other accommodations in the Villa Ludoviel (sic) at Rome besides $1,100 for expenses. Mr. MacNeil did his first piece of modeling at Cornell, “Putting the Shot.” from the then champion all around athlete of the university. He was about to break it up when Prof. Thurston, director of Sibley College, interposed to save it and now adorns that college. Prof. Thurston’s encouragement led Mr. MacNeil to devote himself to sculpture.
~ THURSTON ~ the CONSUMMATE ENCOURAGER
Nearly twenty-years later MacNeil would return the favor. The dedication of MacNeil’s bas-relief of Thurston at the ASME national office was held on Tuesday, February 8, 1908. All Thurston’s colleagues who spoke tributes shared their personal regard and the encouraging impact that his life left on each of them. Dr. Alex. C. Humphreys, Chairman, Member of the Society; and President of Stevens Institute of Technology gave introductory remarks describing him as a large-hearted, gentle, lovable, helpful man, a man of vision, an optimist:
“I never saw him other than cheerfully responsive to a request for help, and I was never allowed to feel that I was intruding when I went to him for counsel. While demanding respect and obedience from those under him, his attitude towards them was characterized by a sympathetic desire to be helpful.”
Mr. Wilham Kent, one of the organizers of the Society (ASME) and a close friend and co-worker with Dr. Thurston shared personal memories from his eighteen year friendship with Dr. Thurston:
“Dr. Thurston was called as the first director. No choice was ever more fortunate. I will not undertake to recount all that followed in physical development from his administration, except to say that the number of students increased from one hundred to eleven hundred, buildings grew, facilities grew, everything that his hand touched grew, and all the growth was healthy. ” … “His everpresent cheerfulness was an inspiration, and his patience was an example. There is no subtle mystery about why he was so loved and respected at Cornell, nor why he accomplished so much. His ways were ways of peace, and his achievements were a series of creative victories. He was a strong man, so strong that we honor his memory tonight. He has gone, but the influence of his life lives.” ~ Mr. Wilham Kent, Feb. 8, 1910, at Dedication of the Thurston Plaque ~
In December 1895,
- Hermon Atkins MacNeil’s four bas relief panels depicting the life of Fr. Pére Marquette were put in place on the new Marquette Building in Chicago.
- He received word that he had been awarded the Rinehart Prize for study in Rome.
- On Christmas Day he married Carol Louise Brooks, a sculptor herself, who studied with MacNeil and shared many of the same colleagues.
- On New Years Day, or there about, they sailed for Rome and what would become 3 years of further study there, then going to Paris for a fourth year and exhibiting at the Exposition Universelle of 1900.
While we can imagine Hermon Atkins MacNeil’s state of mind in December 1895 to be quite elated, we have actual historical reference on MacNeil’s mood written by Amy Aldis Bradley, another artist friend who completed art for the Marquette project.
Amy Aldis Bradley wrote in 1895 to Peter Brooks, developer for the new Marquette Building in Chicago and employer of her father, stating the following:
“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 [Rinehart] 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.” (Based of information from the MacArthur Foundation, current owner and curator of the Marquette Building, cited at their website: (http://marquette.macfound.org/slide/herman-macneil/ )
Hermon and Carol obtained a marriage license on Christmas Eve Day (Dec. 24th). They were married on Christmas Day. The dates seem to imply that they had a wedding ‘not long in the planning.’
Christmas Day in 1895, fell on a Wednesday. The following Wednesday, of course, was New Years Day. We do not have other confirmation that they sailed on New Years Day for France, but it seems to be consistent with plans to go to Rome quickly. The article below was written on December 19th, then published on December 22, 1895 in the NY Sun. The reporter states that MacNeil would like to leave for Rome in about a week. That is consistent with the other evidence.
We know that MacNeil inquired of the Rinehart Committee if he could still fulfill the Rinehart Award conditions if he was a married man. They suggested that it would be a one year award under those conditions. As it turned out he was given three years. We do not know if he their fourth year spent in Paris was at their own expense or financed on their own.
The full text of the December 22, 1895 article that appeared in the New York Sun is posted below. In it the reporter states:
“When found in his studio yesterday, the young sculptor was busily at work on a crude mass of clay, from which were gradually emerging the features and forms of a Pueblo Indian. He was surrounded by a miscellaneous assortment of tools, plaster, and casts. He left his work to discuss his good fortune.”
Here is is in its entirety. Enjoy!
December 22, 1895 – New York Sun, (CLICK HERE) see columns 5 and 6