WELCOME to the “Hermon A. MacNeil” — Virtual Gallery & Museum !

~ This Gallery celebrates Hermon Atkins MacNeil,  of the Beaux Arts School American classic sculptor of Native images and American history.  ~ World’s Fairs, statues, monuments, coins, and more… ~ Hot-links ( lower right) lead to works by Hermon A. MacNeil.   ~ Over 200 of stories & 2,000 photos form this virtual MacNeil Gallery stretching east to west  New York to New Mexico ~ Oregon to S. Carolina.   ~ 2021 marks the 155th Anniversary of Hermon MacNeil’s birth. ~~Do you WALK or DRIVE by MacNeil sculptures DAILY!   ~~ CHECK it OUT!

DO YOU walk by MacNeil Statues and NOT KNOW IT ???

Archive for Bronze Plaque

Here are my two favorite young Chicagoans coming back from a theater performance of “Hamilton”. They stopped and posed below the second panel.

In 2019 the Marquette Building construction has the four bas relief panels (above the doors) protected under scaffolding while the edifice is under repair.  >—–>>

Hermon MacNeil’s first studio home was  in the Marquette Building of Chicago in 1895. His wedding reception for him and Carol Brooks was hosted there on Christmas Day eve 1895.

From that same location, his Four Bronze Panels over the front doors have been telling the story of Father Marquette for 124 years.  They welcome visitors into the Marquette Building, just as the Native Americans met and welcomed the European explorers to Northwest Territory.  The Native Americans who lived in these regions include the Ojibwa, Huron, Ottowa, Illini, Potawatomi, and Menominee.  MacNeil placed these tribes on the Marquette Memorial Statue on Douglas Avenue in 1926.

MacNeil carved the tribal names in the Marquette Memorial of 1926. His moccasins are exquisite in detail, looking life-like.

 [(These Panels were refurbished to their original bronze luster in 2009.) CLICK HERE]

“Over the doors of the main entrance are panels of bronze, designed and executed by Mr. Herman A. MacNeil, illustrating incidents in the life of Pere Marquette in his explorations of the Mississippi River and the state of Illinois…The inscriptions below are panels taken from Marquette’s diary.” 
Architectural Reviewer, July 1897

Before the remodeling the panels look like this. MacNeil’s bronze panels of 1895.

MacArthur Foundation began restorations in 2001.

Marquette Building at 140 S. Dearborn Ave in Chicago with four MacNeil bronze sculptures above the entry doors

The John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation began ongoing restoration phases after acquiring the structure in 2001.

These phases include the following:

In 2001, the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, its current owners, began a multi-year renovation.[18] The restoration to the exterior proceeded in two phases: reconstructing the cornice and replacing the 17th story windows to match the original windows; and cleaning and restoring the masonry and restoring the remainder of the windows.[8][19] Restoration architect Thomas “Gunny” Harboe directed this work.

The Foundation has invested in multiple restorations.

The Marquette and Joliette faces of MacNeil’s 1899 bronze reliefs at the Marquette building in the Loop resemble those likenesses he placed in his larger statue grouping on Douglas Avenue in 1926.

The Foundation website describes the History of the Panels as follows:   “Herman (sic: Hermon) MacNeil was a trained sculptor who worked on sculptures for the 1893 World’s Fair. After commissioning MacNeil for the exterior bronzes, Aldis wrote to Peter Brooks, “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 [Reinhart] 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.” CLICK HERE

MacNeil modeled Black Pipe after meeting him in Buffalo Bill’s Wild West Show at the Chicago Worlds Fair.



The fine features of the child contract those of the weathered warriors.











Mary Lawrence was a talented sculptor.  All that is left of her work in the 1893 World’s Fair are the pictures, as depicted below.

“Christopher Columbus” by Mary Lawrence at the World’s Columbian Exposition, 1893, Chicago, Illinois

She became one of The White Rabbits along with Carol (Carrie) Brooks (MacNeil) and numerous other “women assistants” to Lorado Taft and other male sculptors.  They helped create “the White City” as the 1893 Chicago Worlds Fair was known. The material was temporary, made of staff plaster, and modeled on wooden and medal frameworks.  The elegance of the White City inspired 

Lawrence was a pupil of Augustus Saint Gaudens at the Art Students League of New York for five years.  In that period, she proved her skills many times over. 

In the Chicago exhibition, her work with the White Rabbits was overpowered by an accomplishment central to the Court of Honor.

Saint Gaudens’ recommended that she create the theme statue of the exposition, namely, the monumental center-piece of Christopher Columbus. 1 This work was to be placed in the Court of Honor at the entrance of the Administration Building. 

Frank Millet, who served as Director of Decorations, resented that a woman “had been selected, and seemed to bear her some personal animus as well.” 2   Seeing the piece put on such a prominent place, he ordered her to move the statue to the plaza of the railroad station. Lawrence complied even though Charles F. McKim, architect for Exposition, had told to place the work at that location.  His authority to do so was second only to Daniel Burnham, the Chief Coordinating Architect.

She approached McKim a second time to tell him of the change.  He had the statue returned to the Court of Honor at the Administration Building entrance.  McKim worked with Augustus Saint Gaudens on many projects.  He was introduced to Mary Lawrence by Saint Gaudens as they collaborated in New York on early plans for the Exposition in Chicago.

Though McKim was twenty years senior to Mary Lawrence, Bruce Wilkinson describes their relationship in this way:

“Her good looks and high spirits made her popular with the young and the not so young.  Charles Follen McKim, whose second wife had died tragically after one short idyllic year, fell in love with her and remained a little so all the rest of his crowded life.”

Kim, Burnham, and especially, Lorado Taft were open to women as students and sculptors. Their show of support in the White Rabbitsdecision advanced opportunities for women for years to come. 

Janet Scudder (1869-1940) was one of Taft’s students who described her own the joy filled elation and that of her White-Rabbit-sisters in the following way:

“Janet describes working under Loredo as “That wonderful year! Filled with work, filled with accomplishment and filled with what was considered in those days a very fat salary!”[2] The salary was so large that, upon being paid, “We rushed back to our rooms at the hotel, opened the envelopes and poured out the five-dollar bills (for some reason we were paid our hundred and fifty dollars in five-dollar bills,) and carpeted the floor with them. We wanted to see what it felt like to walk on money.” [3] 3

The Joy of the “White Rabbits” changed their lives and the future of sculpture.

Women and men working on figures for the East entrance to the Horticulture Building in Taft’s section of the World’s Columbian Exposition. Chicago History Museum Images. SOURCE: [ At: https://discoverherstory.wordpress.com/2018/01/08/white-rabbits-american-women-sculptors/ on March 1, 2019.]



  1. White City

    Most of the buildings of the fair were designed in the neoclassical architecture style. The area at the Court of Honor was known as The White City. Façades were made not of stone, but of a mixture of plaster, cement, and jute fiber called staff, which was painted white, giving the buildings their “gleam”. Architecture critics derided the structures as “decorated sheds”. The buildings were clad in white stucco, which, in comparison to the tenements of Chicago, seemed illuminated. It was also called the White City because of the extensive use of street lights, which made the boulevards and buildings usable at night.
  2. Bruce Wilkinson, Uncommon Clay: The Life and Works of Augustus Saint Gaudens. Harcourt Brace Jovanovich, Publishers, Orlando, Florida, 1985, p. 249
  3. Ibid.
  4. Janet Scudder: “White Rabbits: American Women Sculptors”. [ At: https://discoverherstory.wordpress.com/2018/01/08/white-rabbits-american-women-sculptors/ on March 1, 2019.]


On a cold December day we took the CTA Blue Line to Jackson street and walked out of the underground on Dearborn Street at the Federal Court Building.  We were just a block south of the Marquette Building which is home to Hermon MacNeil’s 1895 sculptures of 4 bronze relief panels [Cick Here] that tell the story Father Marquette explorations to Native peoples of Illinois.


We walked past the Federal Courts, then turned east toward the Art Institute of Chicago.

There sculptor Edward Kemeys’ twin bronze Lions (Mr. Defiance and Mr. Prowl) greeted us at the entrance in their Holiday regalia. They have stood guard there since 1893 when Mrs. Henry Field commissioned them.

Above is “Mister ‘In-an-Attitude-of-Defiance’,” as he rests on a Christmas package that normally is his base.  The mood was festive as sixty people smiled and waited on the steps (between Mr. Prowler and Mr. Defiance) until the Museum doors were opened at 10 am.

1) Prowler and Defiance,  2)Mrs. Henry Field, and 3) Hermon MacNeil are all contemporaries of the 1893-95 era of the Chicago World’s Fair (Worlds Columbian Exposition).

Once inside we spent the morning admiring early art of Dutch and French collections. Eventually, we came opon a fovorite, Jules Adolphe Breton’s The Song of the Lark, (1884).

Part of the Field Collection, French artist, Jules Adolphe Breton's The Song of the Lark, 1884. is admired by a happy visitor.

Part of the Field Collection, French artist, Jules Adolphe Breton’s The Song of the Lark, 1884. is admired by a happy visitor.

After some lunch in the modern art area, we went to find MacNeil’s “Sun Vow”.  Here are my results.

While I could go on-and-on about this most famous of Uncle Hermon’s works, I will let my photographs speak for themselves.  Enjoy!



 IMG_0681 IMG_0680 IMG_0679 IMG_0678 IMG_0677 IMG_0676 IMG_0675




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 Galley" Spring/Summer 2013; Clan MacNeil Association of America

“The Galley” Spring/Summer 2013; Official Publication of the Clan MacNeil Association of America

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. 


 Ezra Cornell now interacts with Students through "Dear Uncle Ezra" website.

“Ezra Cornell” the man in front of the telegraph and behind the University, sculpted by Hermon A. MacNeil. [Photo courtesy of Chris Carlsen]

In 1917 when Hermon MacNeil made the standing sculpture of Ezra Cornell, he placed a “machine” behind The man who made Cornell University.  While MacNeil never knew Ezra Cornell, he did know Robert Thurston.  Both Thurston and Cornell were men of machines. This third and final segment of the MacNeil ~ Thurston Story offers more on the brilliant engineer’s influence on the brilliant sculptor. Their individual creativity became a meeting ground of mechanical vision and artistic vision, foundational to Sibley College, and eventually,  Cornell University College of Engineering. 

Hermon MacNeil include this sculpture of the 'original telegraph' into his tribute to Erza Cornell in 1917.

Hermon MacNeil include this sculpture of the ‘original telegraph’ into his tribute to Erza Cornell in 1917.  [Photo courtesy of Chris Carlsen ]

Francis C. Moon in his 2007 volume on The Machines of Leonardo Da Vinci and Franz Reuleaux  tells his story this way, combining three elements:

“Thurston – MacNeil – and Machines”

Source: Francis C. Moon, The Machines of Leonardo Da Vinci and Franz Reuleaux: Kinematics of Machines from the Rennaisance to the 20th Century: Springer, 2007, p.180.

Source: Francis C. Moon, The Machines of Leonardo Da Vinci and Franz Reuleaux: Kinematics of Machines from the Rennaisance to the 20th Century: Springer, 2007, p.180.     [The Two Cultures is the title of an influential 1959 Rede Lecture by British scientist and novelist C. P. Snow. Its thesis was that “the intellectual life of the whole of western society” was split into the titular two cultures — namely the sciences and the humanities — and that this was a major hindrance to solving the world’s problems. ]


For Hermon MacNeil to come to Cornell as a young 20 year old artist was a serendipitous opportunity. For him to work directly with this mechanical engineer and seasoned educator, Robert Thurston, and to teach Thurston’s engineering students drawing and design was a melding of “The Two Cultures” ** of science and humanities. Thurston wanted to educate engineers who could draw, who could solve problems, and had an artist’s eye for detail and design.

  **  [The Two Cultures is the title of an influential 1959 Rede Lecture by British scientist and novelist C. P. Snow. Its thesis was that “the intellectual life of the whole of western society” was split into the titular two cultures — namely the sciences and the humanities — and that this was a major hindrance to solving the world’s problems. ]

In MacNeil, Thurston found the artist/sculptor that he wanted. His encouragement of the ‘sculptor’ in MacNeil led Hermon on to Paris, Chicago, Rome and eventually, New York City. but he kept returning to Cornell. In 1893 he make the bust of Justice Douglas Boardman. After Thurston’s death, he made the bronze bas-relief honoring the Dean. In 1917-18 MacNeil returned to make to the statue of Ezra Cornell. And after MacNeil’s own death in 1947, his personal papers were placed in the Cornell Universiry Library at his bequest.  Robert Thurston appears to be the encourager and instigator of that loyalty. It seems that MacNeil never forgot Cornell.

Thurston achieved his mastery of steam engine technology early in life by working in the machine shop at his father’s steam engine manufacturing company in Providence, Rhode Island. He later volunteered to serve in the Navy Engineering Corps during the Civil War and afterwards taught at the US Naval Academy at Annapolis. Writing 21 books and 574 scientific articles, he spanned a prolific career first as President of Stevens Institute of Technology for 14 years, and later as director of  Sibley College,  Cornell University  for 18 more years.   

Professor Robert Thurston  became a recognized expert on the “steam engine,” the primary ‘work horse’ of the 19th and early 20th centuries.  He wrote dozens of monographs on the subject.  His visionary approach to engineering education brought Cornell to the forefront of the field.  The choice of young Hermon Atkins MacNeil, a trained artist and ‘soon-to-be’ sculptor, brought an artist’s eye to Thurston’s vision for Cornell’s scientifically trained engineering graduates.  That vision has now shaped the “growth” of Cornell, engineering education, and the A.S.M.E. for 125 years.  Steam engines, telegraphs, and even engineering schools, can all be coinsidered “great inventions.”  Here is what Thurston had to say about the “growth” of such great discoveries:

“Great inventions are never, and great discoveries are seldom, the work of any one mind. Every great invention is really an aggregation of minor inventions, or the final step of a progression. It is not usually a creation, but a growth, as truly so as is the growth of the trees in the forest.”  — Robert H. Thurston
[In ‘The Growth of the Steam-Engine’, The Popular Science Monthly (Nov 1877), 17 ]
[SEE also:  http://todayinsci.com/T/Thurston_Robert/ThurstonRobert-Quotations.htm ]

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).

Professor Robert Henry Thurston hired, mentored, and helped to inspire Hermon Atkins MacNeil onto a career as a sculptor in their 3 brief years together at Cornell University, Sibley College (1886-89)

Professor Robert Henry Thurston hired, mentored, and helped to inspire Hermon Atkins MacNeil onto a career as a sculptor in their 3 brief years together at Cornell University, Sibley College (1886-89)





~ 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.


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.”


Notice of the upcoming event made the NY Times.

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 ~


Here is ONE place to go to see sculpture of Hermon A. MacNeil & his students. Located in cities from east to west coast, found indoors and out, public and private, these creations point us toward the history and values that root Americans.

Daniel Neil Leininger ~ HAMacNeil@gmail.com
Hosting & Tech Support: Leiturgia Communications, Inc.           WATCH US GROW


1. Take digital photos of the work from all angles, including setting.
2. Take close up photos of details that you like
3. Look for MacNeil’s signature. Photograph it too! See examples above.
4. Please, include a photo of you & others beside the work.
5. Tell your story of adventure. It adds personal interest.
6. Send photos to ~ Webmaster at: HAMacNeil@gmail.com