Archive for Portland
May 8th I will be able to complete a “bucket list” check-off by visiting the “Coming of the White Man”.
I hope to take my own photos of the Statue in its Washington Park setting. I have told MacNeil’s stories of this piece, but have never had the pleasure of seeing it myself and spending time there.
Other posts related to the “The Coming of the White Man” [Click HERE]
More to come after May 8th.
Jo Davidson continues the narrative of his adventures working in the Studio of Hermon MacNeil:
Besides being a gardener, a sculptor’s assistant and an errand boy, I also became a model. Henri Crenier had noticed my legs one day while we were swimming and insisted they were just right for the young Indian in ‘The Coming of the White Man.’ MacNeil thought he could save time by making a plaster cast of my legs.
So Gregory and Crenier volunteered to do the job, claiming to be experts in casting from life. I was innocent and did not realize what I was up against. I was rather hairy, and they rather haphazardly rubbed the oil over my legs. That done, they covered my legs with plaster, and as the plaster set, the string that was to separate the two halves of the mold broke. Their fun increased as my temper rose, but I was in plaster up to my loins and was helpless. After setting the plaster became very hot and disagreeable. Mr. Gregory and Mr. Crenier chopped gleefully away, separating the two parts. Having completed that part of the job to their satisfaction, they proceeded to take the mold off my legs. The pain was excruciating, for the hair got mixed up with the plaster and as they pulled the mold off of me my hair went with it. I screamed and swore at them, but my anger only made them laugh louder. They finally got the mold off, leaving my legs like two boiled lobsters. The cast turned out to be a very hairy one. I saw those legs many years later in MacNeil’s studio, and I swear they were hairier than ever!
Henri Crenier took a special delight in teasing me. I liked him and took it good-naturedly. But one day I lost my temper and we came to blows. I knocked him down and relieved my feelings by giving him a healthy pummeling. I was so busy that I did not hear MacNeil come into the studio. Suddenly I heard him say: “ Jo, when you get through, will you mix me a little plaster.”
The summer passed quickly. Those were rich and full days. I was sure of my vocation. I was going to be a sculptor.”
The plaster casts were made on his very hairy legs. It proved a painful adventure for the naive teen. Humored by the absurd scene, the “experienced” sculptors laughed at his embarrassment and discomfort as they removed the plaster casts with his leg hair embedded.
Despite the teasing, Jo Davidson went on to study sculpture, develop his talents, and find his unique place as a sculptor doing what he loved.
Hermon MacNeil’s “Chief of the Multnomah” was cast in full size and half size versions. This one was Discovered by a reader of this website several years ago in Vernon, New Jersey. Here was a brief note that was sent to the website:
I’ve been noticing a magnificent piece of the scultpture for the past few years, located in Vernon N.J. at the Minerals Spa and Resort. After closer examination I discovered it is Chief Multnomah with his arms crossed, standing on tip toes looking outward. “The coming of the white man” is the title usually ascribed to this work, but in this case the chief stands alone without his scout or assistant as pictured on your web-site. It is signed simply, H.A. Macneil S.C. 04. Just thought it was a variation of the piece that you might find interesting.I’m not really sure how long its been there, because I’m relatively new to the area. Being a sculptor myself and one that is particularly fond on the late 19th cent/early 20th cent period, with the likes of Rodin, Bayre, Dega, etc. Macneil certainly is a strong and salutory member of that period. Regards, D. Moldoff.
My response was as follows:
Dear D. L. Moldoff,
Thanks for noticing sculpture around you and sharing the information. The ‘Chief Multnomah’ is the larger Half of H. A. MacNeil’s “The Coming of the White Man.” (COTWM). While the COTWM piece is only at the Washington Park in Portland, OR, where it was commissioned for that city. The original plaster sculpture model is in the Poppenhusen Institute in Queens, NYC, just blocks from MacNeil’s studio.
(Click HERE ) for link to my archives of seven post on Chief of the Mulnomah.)
There are multiple castings of this single piece, the “Chief Multnomah”, possibly over 20 in total. I believe there are at lease two groupings of 12 casts and 9 casts of this statue. I have found information and location on three other ‘Multnomah’s. Plus there are many smaller (half-scale) casts of this sculpture.
These are the related entries for this story. For MORE see these previous posts:
“Clan MacNeil Connections and Hermon Atkins MacNeil”
The current issue of the Clan MacNeil Association of America magazine has a feature story on Hermon Atkins MacNeil by webmaster, Dan Leininger
The Galley edited by Vicki Sanders Corporon titles Dan’s story as “Clan MacNeil Connections and Hermon Atkins MacNeil.” The feature and photos fill 8 pages in the “Galley” issue for Spring/Summer 2014.
The featured photos include the East Pediment of the Supreme Court Building in Washington, D.C. (with a detail close-up of Moses, Confucius, and Salon); The George Rogers Clark monument in Vincennes, IN at the site of his victory over the British in 1779; Confederate Defenders of Charleston, SC; the Young Lawyer Abraham Lincoln in Champaign, IL; General George Washington on the Washington Arch, NYC, NY. Also in this article are photos of the grouping Coming of the White Man in Portland, OR; The WWI Angel of Peace Monument in Flushing NY; and a bust of Dwight L. Moody (who MacNeil sketched during the 1893 Chicago Worlds Fair.
February is “MacNeil Month at HermonAtkinsMacNeil.com
Feb 27th, 2012 is the 146th Anniversary of Hermon MacNeil’s birth.
Hermon MacNeil’s “Coming of the White Man” sculpture in Portland, OR, appears to be the most popular postcard of all his statues.
Hermon A. MacNeil’s “Coming of the White Man” in Portland Oregon has an interesting story of the boulder-like stone that forms its base. This postcard image from Gib Shell shows the enormous granite stone on which MacNeil placed the statue.
The story, as I read it from a newspaper interview from about 1905, went like this. MacNeil was very particular about how his sculptures were mounted. Many of them were placed on bases that he made as a special part of the piece. The Marquette-Jolliet-Illini grouping in Chicago, the “Confederate Defenders” statue in Charleston each have stone bases with carvings, words, and art details that compliment the piece.
MacNeil wanted a stone base that fit into the wooded setting of Washington Park (Plaza Park) in Portland,Oregon. The site for the statue, I am told, overlooks the Columbia River to the East. The Native American pair [a Chief of the Multnomah, and the Medicine Man (scout)] look into the river valley and spy the first White explorers coming to their region. MacNeil portrays the Chief as tall, proud, and serene, while the Medicine Man is aroused, eager, and excited. [See: ” If MacNeil’s “Chiefs” Could Speak, What would They tell us Today? ].
MacNeil considered the cost of shipping a stone from New York. He decided it would cost too much. But he knew what he wanted in a stone. So he made a plaster model (that is what sculptors do). The model was 1/3 the size of the stone that he wanted. Then he shipped it with the statue to Portland. He sent instructions that a stone be found sufficient for a base.
When the statue arrived in Portland, Hermon came and found that no one had looked for a stone as he requested. So he took his 1/3 plaster model, put it in a boat and traveled up the Columbia River to a granite quarry about 20 miles up river. Leaving his plaster model in the boat, he went to the quarry and found a piece of granite sufficient to shape for a natural looking base. Finding a suitable stone, he had it transported to a barge and them brought up the river. At the foot of the hill where the statue was to be placed, it took a four horse team to pull the stone up the hill (this was 1904 remember).
MacNeil must have sculpted the base on site. It bears the name of the statue and the information on the donor. When looking at a sculpture I seldom take time to consider the base, pedestal, or the setting in which the sculptor, artist, architect may have placed it. I hope MacNeil’s story adds to your curiosity and appreciation of his work.
The Poppenhusen Institute (just blocks from the site of MacNeil’s Studio and home) in College Point, Queens, NYC has made an urgent Appeal for $3000. The money will secure the shipment and handling of several MacNeil Statues being donated to the Institute.
The Landmark Poppenhusen Institute in College Point, Queens has been presented with the opportunity to obtain a number of statues by Hermon Atkins Mac Neil. We are anxious to accept this offer since Mac Neil was the head of the art department at the Institute for many years and also served as its president. He also lived in this community of more than 40 years.
The cost of packing, and transporting these sculptures is $3,000. Won’t you consider contributing to this cause. You can learn more about the Institute, visit our website at www.poppenhuseninstitute.org.
We are a tax exempt (501C3), therefore all donations are tax deductible according to the N.Y.S. Tax Deduction Law.
Checks can be sent to: Poppenhusen Institute, P.O. Box 91, College Point, NY 11356
Thank you for your anticipated support.
Bob Walker (illustrator, sculptor, and long time College Point resident), has informed us just yesterday of these needs and developments. He also sent the wonderful detail photo of “The Coming of the White Man” shown above. This plaster model is MacNeil’s original sculpture from which the Portland bronze grouping was cast by Bureau Brothers foundry of Los Angeles. This original work is on display in the auditorium of the Institute. Bob has also told us that:
These plaster works will be joined by other pieces by MacNeil being donated to become in the future, a substantial MacNeil collection to be exhibited at Poppenhusen.
The Poppenhusen Institute built in 1868 by Conrad Poppenhusen was established to be a learning institute open to all people providing the opportunity to improve their lives by offering adult education and the first free kindergarten in the USA in 1870. It continues to serve the community by offering Theater groups, Music and Art programs, Lectures, Historic exhibits and creative workshops for children.
Susan Brustmann and her dedicated staff have done an amazing job of keeping the Institute together with creativity and hard work.
This request for funds is a first step in expanding the MacNeil Collection of the Institute. Thanks to the Poppenhusen Institute, its donors, and the people of College Point, Queens, the MacNeil Collection there can be expanded.
MacNeil Park was dedicated by Mayor Lindsey in 1967. That act permanently placed the name of “Hermon A. MacNeil” in the community he and Carol loved, and where their home and studio stood for 50 years.
Bob Walker has lived in College Point for 46 years just a few blocks from the site of the MacNeil studio and home. Bob also gives us the ultimate web-surfer compliment, “I have really enjoyed your website as I am a fan of MacNeil’s work and I’m grateful to find a site dedicated to his sculpture.” (Thanks Bob for your ongoing contribution here as well. – webmaster Dan)
PLEASE HELP these MacNeil sculptures to come home to College Point. Send your check today to: Poppenhusen Institute, P.O. Box 91, College Point, NY 11356
Hermon served as president of the Poppenhusen Institute board and donated the his original plaster model. Click in this link for a stunning photo and the Poppenhusen story — “The Coming of the White Man” .
A previous post here tells the whole story. CLICK HERE.