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 and info about these works by MacNeil. ]

~ 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 Sculptures

May 8th I will be able to complete a “bucket list” check-off by visiting the “Coming of the White Man”.

This photo shows the upper base of the statue as part of the casting itself with the name sculpted into the base. This sits on the boulder that MacNeil crafted for the setting from Columbia River granite.

Post Card of 1905 Statue before the oak branch was broken. MacNeil selected the stone for the base and supervised its delivery from the quarry to the hill where it was hauled up by a four horse team.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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.

 

Last Saturday while traveling home to South Dakota, I made an unscheduled stop at Reed Chevrolet in St. Joe, MO.   As I took the exit ramp off I-29 at Frederick Ave., the red light on my Chevy Silverado dash told me that the alternator was failing. 

I was planning to stop at Hazel’s Coffee to get some of our favorite beans to bring home, but I drove a block farther into Reed Chevrolet for emergency repairs.

While waiting for repairs, I met Lou Schreck, sales team member there. He gave me  test drive in a new 2017 Red Silverado. 

We drove downtown as Lou gave me his sales low down on Chevy’s 2017 Silverado line. I drove the very red 2017 that felt like a tall limo. 

Lou Schrenk and “Poncho Villa”, Hermon MacNeil’s model for “THE PONY EXPRESS”

I gave Lou a history of the PONY EXPRESS statue in downtown St. Joe, Missouri and took his picture as MacNeil’s bronze mustang soared above.

Webmaster Dan in St. Joe again for the Ump-teenth time

I enjoyed meeting this friendly Chevy man and exploring the Silverado and St Joe again.  Lou got a snapshot of me also with our Pony Express friends.

For more Pony Express stories that I told to Lou, click on this link:

More PONY EXPRESS

The Reed repair shop got me back on the road to home

(I should have got a pic of the truck too. I swiped this from their website)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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“The Coming of the White Man in Washington Park, Portland, Oregon. This photo shows the legs of the Indian on the left which Jo Davidson painfully modeled in plaster casts. The title is sculpted into the base. The whole group sits on a boulder that MacNeil crafted for the setting from a granite quarry up the Columbia River granite. The granite came to the Park by barge. Then, a team of horses brought it up the hillside, all under MacNeil’s direction and supervision

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.”

Jo Davidson

Thus in his own words, Jo Davidson recounts becoming the unwitting model for the legs of this younger Indian. 

Jo Davidson sculpting a young Frank Sinatra. (1946) – http://www.highlands-gallery.com/jo-davidson

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.

The MacNeil Studio no longer stands. In it’s nearly fifty years beside the East River Sound, many sculptor assistants, sculptures, and models of works were shaped in that place.

Postcard of MacNeil studio in College Point. From the webmaster’s collection.

This postcard and the Christmas card of 1912, posted on December 22, 2016, show the exterior of the studio. Pictures of the inside of MacNeil’s studio are rare.

However, one word picture offers a captivating account from about 1902-1903.   (Jo Davidson, Between Sittings, Dial Press: New York, 1941).

As an 18 year-old struggling artist, Jo Davidson aspired to become a sculptor. (http://www.highlands-gallery.com/jo-davidson) 

Though young, he was outgoing, naively confident, and very determined. In his autobiography he shares a fascinating encounter with Hermon MacNeil. Davidson gives a vivid description of both of MacNeil’s studios on Fifty-fifth Street and in College Point. Davidson eventually went on to become a renowned portrait sculptor of over 250 world leaders.  See him below sculpting a bust of General Eisenhower nearly fifty years later.  However, his initial impressions upon MacNeil were much less inspiring. Davidson recounts their meeting with understated humor:

Jo Davidson making a bust of General Dwight D. Eisenhower (1948) SOURCE: Laurant Davidson ( http://www.highlands-gallery.com/jo-davidson )

“On my first visit to New York, I went to the Art Students League and inquired who taught the sculpture class. I was told Herman [sic] A. MacNeil. They gave me his address, the Holbein Studios over the stables on West Fifty-fifth Street. I went to call on him to see if I could get a job in his studio. He asked me whether I had ever done any modeling, and remembering Mister Broadman’s encouragement, I told him I had. MacNeil looked at me quizzically and said, ‘I have to go out for a bit.’ He handed me a blueprint, saying, “ See what you can do with this,’ and took me to a stand piled up with plasticine – the beginning of a Corinthian capital. Then Mac Neil left.”

 “I had never seen a blueprint before in my life. I tried to figure it out, but it was hopeless. I looked around the studio. There were bronze statuettes of Indians; scale models of monuments; photographs of executed work; and some portrait heads. I was fascinated and impressed. I made up my mind to get a job with that man.”

 “I struggled with my Corinthian capital but got nowhere. In the midst of this Mr. MacNeil returned. He looked at the sorry mess I had made of his model, shook his head and asked, ‘How much do you expect to earn in a week?’”

 “I meekly suggested fifteen dollars.

He said, ‘Young man, you will never make that at sculpture.’

I asked him what he would give me, taking for granted that a job was there for me. He was taken unawares and said, ‘Six dollars a week.’ I accepted. He looked defeated and said, ‘All right, Come in Monday morning.’”

 “I went home elated and told my people I had found a job in a great sculptor’s studio. Though they did not approve, I think they caught my enthusiasm; I could hardly wait for Monday morning. At the appointed time, I rang the studio bell. The door opened and Mr. MacNeil stuck his head out of the door scowling.

‘I’ve thought it over,’ he said. ‘You are not worth it.’

I followed him into the studio.

‘What am I worth?’ I asked

‘Four dollars.’

‘All right, I’ll take it’

He gave up. ‘All right, you go to my studio in College Point, Long Island and see Mr. [John] Gregory. Tell him you are the new studio boy.’

The ride was long and expensive, a carfare, a ferry and another carfare I arrived at the MacNeil house, which was on the Sound, in Long Island, and finally found Mr. Gregory

Mr. Gregory was rather brusque: ‘Come on, hang up your things,’ he said, and he introduced me to Henri Crenier, the master sculptor.”

Davidson goes on to describe the MacNeil Studio and his early experiences there. His word picture shares some similarities of old Smithsonian archive photos. 

The Poppenhusen Institute houses this plaster model of “A Chief of the Multnomah” donated in 1920 by MacNeil. It represents half of the “Coming of the White Man” grouping comissioned in 1904 for the City of Portland, Oregon by the family of David P. Thompson. (photo courtesy of Bob Walker, College Point)

  

“The studio was a huge barn of a place or, so it appeared to me then. It was full of work in progress. There was the ‘Fountain of Liberty’ which Mr. MacNeil was making for the coming World’s Fair in St. Louis. It consisted of colossal rampant sea-horses, cavorting over a cascade of waves, sea formations and variegated seashells. At the other end of the studio there was an immense group in clay of two Indians – an older Indian standing on his tiptoes with his arms folded across his chest, looking into the distance, the younger Indian with his left hand on the old man’s shoulder and in his right hand waving an olive branch. The title of the group was ‘The Coming of the White Man.’ There were plaster molds and sketches of details of other projects.”

I was bewildered.  John Gregory woke me out of my trance and took me down to the cellar where he was working on some plaster moldings. It didn’t take him long to discover that I knew nothingbut he sensed my eagerness and was quick to give me advise and information. When I got home , I talked everybody’s ear off, but my sister Ray was the only one who listened sympathetically.   She wanted to know all about it and there was so much to tell.” 

STAY TUNED FOR “SO MUCH MORE TO TELL”

SOURCE:  Jo Davidson, Between Sittings: An Informal Autobiography (Dial Press: New York, 1951. Pp.13-16)

 

 

 

 

 

So Says the Greeting on this 104 year-old Christmas Card from the Hermon MacNeil Studio on College Point, Queens, New York.

 A photo of the MacNeil Studio on College Point, holly sprigs and a Doll-faced Christmas bell, these things grace the face of this holiday greeting card.

The back shows an addressee and a College Point postmark for Dec 24, 1912 with a cancellation on a 1 cent George Washington postage stamp.  Perhaps these cards were available to MacNeil’s students at the Pratt Institute as Seasons greetings. 

A publishers mark, “F. Hettling, Pub.” is listed on the bottom front in very small print.  

The addressee (Miss Jule Cox, 285 Carlton Ave, Brooklyn, New York) brings up a residence about 12 blocks from the Pratt Institute where MacNeil was an instructor for many years.  (Thus our ‘student theory’ on this Christmas note.  The signature is not readily decipherable (from The Deachins?).  All is written in black ink with a fountain pen.  — All in all, its a curious relic from a century ago.

The photo of the studio was used in other Christmas cards and newspaper articles about the MacNeil sculptors.

Hermon MacNeil built his Studio building out of stones.  These he gathered from the shoreline and bottom on the East River sound behind the studio.  Being the son and grandson of builders, he was familiar with hand labor, construction and masonry.  

The studio was bathed in natural light through skylights and featuresd a section where Carol Brooks MacNeil (Carrie) did her sculpture work as well.

This curious Item came up as an eBay offering during 2016.  SO guess who wanted it?  

  • 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.

Palais des Estudes in 2005 BEFORE restorations

Palais des Estudes in 2005 BEFORE restorations

Following photos are credited to Dan Leininger, webmaster,  from a tour of France in May 2015

Palais des Etudes in 2015 AFTER the restorations.

Palais des Etudes in 2015 AFTER the restorations.

 

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The inscription above the statues reads as follows “This monument begun under Louis XVIII, was completed in 1837 By Louis-Philippe”

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The year 1836 marks the beginning of the Hemicycle below.

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The Hemicycle of the Ecole Des Beaux-Arts, C.1836-41 was also brought back to life in the recent restorations. The original work was by Delaroche, Hippolyte (Paul) (1797-1856); French. Medium: oil on paper glued on canvas. Date: 19th Century. Les grands maitres autour d’Apelle, Ictinos et Phidias; 70 artists from antiquity to time of Louis XIV; architects and sculptors of the Parthenon; Provenance: Musee des Beaux-Arts, Paris France

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
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WE DESIRE YOUR DIGITAL PHOTOS of MacNeil's work! Here's some photo 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.
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6. Send photos to HAMacNeil@gmail.com Contact me there with any questions. ~~ Webmaster