Archive for Washington D.C.
“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.
Hermon MacNeil was the first president of the Clan MacNeil Association of America. This summer, the Galley will contain a feature article about him, written by Dan Leininger, webmaster of this website — HermonAtkinsMacNeil.com.
The previous posting of February 8, 2013, entitled, “MacNeil Kinsman ~ Hermon Atkins MacNeil and Robert Lister MacNeil,” tells part of the story of these two men.
Vicki Sanders Corporon, editor of the Galley, has accepted the article and accompanying photos that tell more of the story. She said in recent correspondence:
“Thanks for sending such excellent photos of Hermon’s sculptures. I know their inclusion, along with your article, will be the highlight of the upcoming issue! He really was one of America’s finest sculptors … how important is your mission to make sure he is fully appreciated!”
Sculpture photos of the Supreme Court (East Pediment); George Washington from the Washington Arch in NYC; Abraham Lincoln from University of Illinois; Ezra Cornell at Ithaca; Confederate Defenders Monument (1932) Charleston harbor, SC; and George Rogers Clark at Vincennes will illustrate the story.
On May 26, 1921, the Clan MacNeil Association of America was organized in New York City. Central to that moment were Robert Lister MacNeil, (The MacNeil of Barra – 45th Chief of the Clan), and Hermon Atkins MacNeil, the clan’s first president.
Stay tuned for more as the publication is released.
“Slow but steady wins the race.”
So said Aesop in the fable of the “Tortoise and the Hare.” And those are the two last figures that Hermon A. MacNeil placed as ‘bookends’ on either end of the East Pediment of the US Supreme Court Building. On our recent visit to Washington, D.C., we slowly made our way to the Supreme Court Building, we walked steadily around to the East Pediment (back side) passing the barricades for all the current landscape construction.
There, hidden high on the seldom-seen back side of **Cass Gilbert’s last architectural achievement, rests the eleven marble figures of Hermon A. MacNeil’s tribute to “Justice: The Guardian of Liberty.” Unless you walk around the building you will miss this massive work of art.
Moses, Confucius, and Solon represent three great world civilizations. Moses (receiver of Hebrew Ten Commandments) is in the center. To his right is Confucius (Chinese philosopher and teacher). To Moses’ left is Solon (Athenian lawmaker, statesman, and poet). MacNeil explained his work as follows:
“Law as an element of civilization was normally and naturally derived or inherited in this country from former civilizations. The ‘Eastern Pediment’ of the Supreme Court Building suggests therefore the treatment of such fundamental laws and precepts as are derived from the East.”
This trio of law makers are framed on left and right by three pairs of allegorical figures. The rest of the grouping is as follows:
“Flanking this central group – left – is the symbolical figure bearing the means of enforcing the law. On the right a group tempering justice with mercy, allegorically treated. The “Youth” is brought into both these groups to suggest the “Carrying on” of civilization through the knowledge imbibed of right and wrong. The next two figures with shields; Left – The settlement of disputes between states through enlightened judgment. Right – Maritime and other large functions of the Supreme Court in protection of the United States. The last figures: Left – Study and pondering of judgments. Right – A tribute to the fundamental and supreme character of this Court. Finale – The fable of the Tortoise and the Hare.“
East Pediment description: CLICK HERE
** NOTE: “Gilbert, Sr. died in 1934, one year before the completion of the Supreme Court Building by his son, Cass Gilbert, Jr. MacNeil and Gilbert first collaborated in 1904 at the Saint Louis World’s Fair. That “Palace of Fine Arts” on Art Hill now houses the St. Louis Art Museum.”
For more on Supreme Court Building See Also:
For more on Saint Louis World’s Fair See Also:
Daniel Chester French’s most famous creation is his seated Lincoln. This work won him much acclaim, including a National Sculpture Society Special Honor Award in 1929.
The screen capture (above) shows a frame from the 1929 silent movie “The Medal Maker.” This video frame shows two of the four presidents of the National Sculpture Society presenting the NSS‘s ‘Special Award Medal’ to Daniel Chester French (left). Hermon MacNeil is in center (with hand gesture). Herbert Adams is on right.
French (1850-1931) died just 2 years after this video was made. The making of the Medal by Laura Gardin Fraser is told in “The Medal Maker” (CLICK HERE FOR MORE).
I recently visited our nation’s Capitol with family. Sculpture and history are everywhere. On the way to the Supreme Court to take a few photos of MacNeil’s tortoise and the hare, I was lured away by a few wonderful sites.
So the East Pediment of 11 figures (Moses, Confucius, Solon, the tortoise and the hare, and six others) would have to wait.
In front of the White House in Lafayette Square, I found Andrew Jackson rearing up on horseback and waiving his hat to the White House and Washington monument in the distance. Apparently, he has been doing that pose for over 160 years when Clark Mills’ tribute to Jackson was emplaced. For more perspectives and close-up details on this piece click HERE at DCmemorials.com.
Behind the Old Executive Office Building, high on a Roman column stood “Victory” by Daniel Chester French. Cass Gilbert was also the architect of this WWI memorial to the First Infantry Division. All of the funds for the monument as well as the additions were provided by the Society of the First Infantry Division.
To see this full monument and others in the Ellipse and D.C. CLICK HERE. The StationStart.com website provides photos and history to accompany your ride on the Metro through the Capitol.
On across the street stands the Washington Monument which is closed for structural repairs following the earth quake last year. Some mortar was loosened and cracks opened. But the spire stands tall and proud like the General himself.
On down the hill to the west rests the WWII Memorial. Nestled into the center of the Mall, this oval dish of fountains, pools, and 56 state and territorial salutes gathers people into a living history. Veterans of WWII, some of the last remaining were there on that sunny Saturday morning giving dignity and flesh and blood to this stunningly compelling tribute. As a VA Chaplain, I found myself shedding more tears here and recalling the veterans I have been privileged to know.
ALL GAVE SOME – SOME GAVE ALL. These 4048 Gold Stars commemorate the 404,800 American soldiers who died in World War II. Each Gold Star here represents 100 dead.
During the war, each mother of a veteran would place a Blue Star in the front window of the family home. A Gold Star is what a mother placed if a son had been killed in action.
For more photos and history on this monument see HERE.
COMING: Next post will take us to the Lincoln Memorial to see Daniel Chester French’s most renowned sculpture.
At each corner of the East Pediment of the U.S. Supreme Court Building, Hermon MacNeil placed the figures of a ‘tortoise’ and a ‘hare.’ His local newspaper (“Brooklyn Daily Star”) carried the story below on the MacNeil’s 67th Birthday, February 27, 1933.
The greater figures (Moses, Confucius, and Solon [not Plato]) received more publicity and scrutiny. Some questioned that placement as making some ‘religious’ statement (See previous Posting of Jan 13th, 2012).
MacNeil’s use of the little symbolic animals so familiar to readers of Aesop’s Fables (children’s readings from a century ago) may seem quaint in 21st Century media, but provide an appropriate allegorical meaning and use of confined ‘space.’
Also see previous story on this website at:
Of further note in the “Brooklyn Daily Star” article is the reference to Alden MacNeil. He was Hermon and Carol’s younger son. Whether he worked ‘for’ Cass Gilbert or ‘with’ the famous architect is unclear. I suspect the later. Either way being “associated” with Cass Gilbert the renowned architectural firm on the Supreme Court Building project is a significant point of the story.