Archive for 1893 Columbian Exposition -Chicago
On Christmas Day one dozen decades ago, Hermon A. MacNeil and Carol Louise Brooks were married in Chicago, Illinois. The pair were both sculptors who met while working on the World’s Colombian Exposition of 1893, better known as the Chicago World’s Fair.
Carol was a student of Lorado Taft and became one of the White Rabbits. These female sculptors were hired (commissioned) to help finish the 100’s of sculptures needed to finish the buildings, fountains, arcades, for the White City of the Chicago Worlds Fair.
Previous postings celebrate this MacNeil-Brooks Wedding:
My recent post about our December 3rd journey on the CTA Blue Line train to the Chicago Loop and the Art Institute of Chicago ended with a discussion of “The Sun Vow” and my photo array taken in the Sculpture Court. [Searching for Uncle Hermon in Chicago ~ “The Sun Vow” ]
Another MacNeil piece just steps away in the adjoining American Gallery provides a “preface” to the story of “The Sun Vow”.
Modeled in 1894 that earlier piece was called “Vow of Vengeance.” It shows one of MacNeil’s early studies in Native American depiction. It followed his exposure to the Chicago World Fair, his fascination with sketching the Indians in Buffalo Bill’s Wild West Show, and his modeling work with Black Pipe. (Black Pipe was a young Sioux who worked in Hermon’s studio and modeled for several pieces during 1893-94. He helped with physical labor in the studio as well. CLICK for MORE on Black Pipe and “Primitive Chant”)
Several pieces dated 1894 seemed to be early prototypes for later larger works and castings. The “Vow of Vengeance” appears to be one of the more prominent. I know of no other copies elsewhere.
A blog about the Art Institute observes some mingling of the identity of the two pieces:
The Vow of Vengeance -1894
By Hermon Atkins MacNeil.
What’s in a name?
Well, somehow I noticed a discrepancy in the name..
The Art Institute website calls it – The Vow of Vengeance 
But marker at the Art Institute has the name – The Sun Vow [Modeled-1898, Cast-1901]. http://theartinstituteofchicago.blogspot.com/2010_12_01_archive.html.
While the “Vow of Vengeance” and “The Sun Vow” contain similar elements, what they communicate seems quite different:
- TITLE: The two titles carry contrasting emotional messages. The first (Vow of Vengeance) conveys negative aggression and hostile feeling toward some enemy, while the second (Sun Vow) depicts a more positive rite of passage from boyhood to manhood within a setting of family and tribal affirmation.
- GROUPING: The boy and the Elder (Warrior, Chief) are grouped to convey different emotional tones in the two pieces. In “Vengeance,” the chief wears his war bonnet on his head. He is dressed to present tribal authority to the enemy. His face seems harsh and his posture stiff. The Boy strains his head high up into the air. Their grouping seems tense. In “Sun Vow” the two figures are closer and seem to be “more one.” The Chief has removed his bonnet so as to lean into the boy’s line of sight. The boy is also more grace-full. He looks to the arrow and the sun without straining. Both gaze in the seeming wonder and mystical pleasure of the physical rite.
1894 ~ Prototype Year:
In addition to the “Vow of Vengeance” we have found evidence of another prototype from 1894.
A previous posting tells James Dixon’s story of a MacNeil piece acquired by his Great-great grandmother, Edna Lord. The sculpture bears the title “Primitive Music” on its base. [ CLICK Here for more ]
Photos on that previous post suggest that Edna Lord’s “Primitive Indian Music” was an early prototype of the “Primitive Chant” (which was much more polished and finely surfaced)
It is also based on “Black Pipe”, the young Sioux Brave. MacNeil first saw Black Pipe at the Buffalo Bills Wild West Show and we know that he returned many times to study the Indians. Like MacNeil, I have return to this story of “Black Pipe”, the young Sioux Brave, numerous times, and perhaps, will return many more. ~~ DNL
Hermon MacNeil ~ After the World’s Columbian Exposition
The period after the end of the 1893 Chicago World’s Fair was a lean, even dry time, financially for Hermon MacNeil. We do know that he continued to maintain a studio, sculpt models, teach at the Art Institute of Chicago, and associate with art colleagues and benefactors there. Yet, it seems a productive time of transition, expression, and experimentation for the as the young sculptor.
Traveling to the Art Museum, we walked out of the underground on Dearborn Street just a block south of the Marquette Building which is home to Hermon MacNeil’s 1895 sculptures of 4 bronze relief panels [Cick Here]. This commission marked his recognition and selection for the award of the Rinehart Roman Scholarship. This began 3 years in Rome and another in Paris for he and his young bride, Carol Brooks. The bronze reliefs stands today as an icon to Marquette and his life among the Native peoples. The building has been restored by the MacArthur Foundation and now houses their international headquarters.
Those works tell the story Father Marquette explorations to Native peoples of Illinois. MacNeil would return to Chicago and the Marquette themes three decades later as he sculpted the bronze grouping [CLICK HERE] of Pere Marquette, Louis Jolliete, and an Illinois Indian on Marshall Boulevard. Commissioned by the Benjamin Franklin Ferguson Monument Fund, this sculpture has faced the greenway of the boulevard for 88 years.
I sit here in Chicago during this Christmas Season, imagining a Christmas wedding ceremony one hundred and nineteen years ago.
On Christmas Eve day in 1895, Hermon Atkins MacNeil and Carol Louise Brooks purchased a Cook County license to solemnize their marriage. The very next day, Christmas 1895, they shared their vows before God and a Congregational minister named, Edward F. Williams, here in Chicago. The record looks like this:
Both Hermon and Carol were sculptors. Hermon had completed 4 bronze relief sculpture panels for the new Marquette Building. They had fellow friends among the art community, sculptor colleagues from the Chicago World’s Fair, students and teachers from the Art Institute of Chicago, and “White Rabbits” team of women sculptors. We don’t have any record of who might have witnessed their nuptials.
But it was Christmas Day, a time when families gather. Hermon’s family was far away in Massachusetts. Carol’s was born in Chicago and studied there at the Art Institute with Lorado Taft working on the 1893 Worlds Fair with her “White Rabbit” colleagues. Perhaps some friends or family were present or even hosted some wedding celebration. Her parents were close enough to be present, but no evidence suggests that. It appears to have been a quick, quiet, modest ceremony. The less than a one-day turn around on their marriage license would support that. In addition, we know that they sailed a week later for Rome and Hermon’s Roman Reinhart Scholarship studies there. A December 22, 1895 – New York Sun, article (CLICK HERE) supports that as well as a letter from Amy Ardis Bradley [ CLICK for MORE ]
The officiating minister, Rev. Edward (Franklin) Williams appears to have been a prominent clergy described as “a Congregational minister, educator, field agent for the United States Christian Commission, missionary, and writer.” ( Source: Edward Franklin Williams papers, Amistad Research Center at Tulane University, New Orleans, Louisiana ) He wrote Carol’s name as “Carrie” in his handwritten certification on the bottom of the license. She went by ‘Carrie’ among her friends.
Whether Rev. Williams considered her a ‘friend’ we do not know. Philip Khopf, the Cook County clerk, wrote ‘Carol’ in the top portion of the certificate. Rev. Williams could have copied “Carol” from the official record above, but chose to use ‘Carrie’ instead. The license lists Carol as being 24 years of age and Hermon as 29. We know that the minister was 63 years of age when he led their ceremony. Until 1891 he was pastor of the South Congregational Church, in suburban Chicago. For health reasons he had “an extended stay abroad (June, 1891 to July, 1893), primarily in Germany, where he pursued studies in Berlin.” Returning to Chicago he studied and lectured at Chicago Theological Seminary during 1894.
Whether Rev. Williams had some previous knowledge with Carrie and Hermon or was a friend of the family, is uncertain. He seemed very connected to the Chicago community and many of the potential benefactors of the arts. At a minimum, his use of “Carrie” seems to indicate a ‘cordial’ style of ministry and interaction. It also seems consistent with his servant-attitude toward needs of the soldiers and wounded he encountered during the Civil War.
More biographical information on Rev. Williams is offered below.
Williams, Edward Franklin (1832-1919)
Historical Note: Edward Franklin Williams was a Congregational minister, educator, field agent for the United States Christian Commission, missionary, and writer. Edward Franklin Williams was born in Massachusetts in 1832, the son of Delilah Morse Williams and George Williams. Williams attended Yale University from 1852 to 1856, and he continued to earn an advanced degree from Yale. He later attended the Princeton Theological Seminary, where he graduated and earned his license to preach in 1861.Williams was exempt from the draft due to a tubercular condition in his lungs, and thus he did not fight in the Civil War. In April 1863, Williams received a commission as a field agent for the United States Christian Commission. With the Commission, he served two and a half years in the armies of the Potomac and the James.After the war, Williams was sent as principal to begin was became the Lookout Mountain Educational Institutions in Chattanooga, Tennessee. In 1867, Williams was appointed by the American Missionary Association to teach in the Normal and Preparatory Division of what was later Howard University. He left Howard to preach at several churches in Massachusetts, Pennsylvania, Illinois, and New York, ultimately serving as pastor of Tabernacle Church in Chicago and Forty-Seventh Street Congregational Church, which later became South Congregational Church, in suburban Chicago, where he served until 1891.By 1880, Williams was writing a monthly column for The Congregationalist under a pen name, “Franklin.” He continued writing for this publication until 1908. He continued as a prolific writer, particularly in the 1890s.
From 1901 to 1911 Williams served as pastor of the Evanston Ave. Congregational Church in Chicago. Williams died in 1919 in Chicago.[ Sources: Edward Franklin Williams papers, Amistad Research Center at Tulane University, New Orleans, Louisiana ]
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).
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!
~ Christmas Day 1895 ~
In 1895, Amy Aldis Bradley wrote of Hermon MacNeil:
“…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.” (http://marquette.macfound.org/slide/herman-macneil/ )
One hundred and seventeen years ago today, Hermon Atkins MacNeil and Carol Louise Brooks were united in marriage in Chicago, Illinois by Rev. Edward F. Williams, a Congregational Minister. They purchased their Marriage License on Christmas Eve Day 1895. [CLICK HERE to See their License]
Both Hermon and Carol were sculptors who worked on the 1983 Chicago World’s Fair (World’s Columbian Exposition). Just days earlier MacNeil received word that he had won the Rinehart Roman Scholarship. (Carol had also studied sculpture with both Lorado Taft and Frederick William MacMonnies). Within the week, the pair left for Rome, passing three years there (1896-1899). It was a romantic time of study together under the same masters. With frugality, the income of Hermon’s Rinehart scholarship supported them both. They travelled through Italy occasionally bartering a room for sculpture. They spend a fourth year in Paris.”
According to information from the MacArthur Foundation (current owner and curator of the Marquette Building), Amy Aldis Bradley’s complete words in 1895 to Peter Brooks:
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.” (http://marquette.macfound.org/slide/herman-macneil/ )
Eda Lord, (the woman who purchased the MacNeil bronze statue, “Primitive Indian Music” ~ 1894), attended the World’s Columbian Exposition on “Chicago Day.” Jim Dixon sent us a scan of his great-grandmother’s actual Ticket to the Chicago World’s Fair.
Eda Lord was not alone. Chicago Day was packed. A total of 716,881 people attended for “Chicago Day,” October 9, 1893. That day commemorated the anniversary of the Great Chicago Fire of 1871. The ‘Chicago Day’ marked Chicago’s rebirth.
Every day of the Chicago World’s Fair marked the city’s arrival on the world-scene. While New York City, Washington, D.C., and St.Louis, had all competed for this ‘Columbian’ 400-year-extravaganza, Chicago won the honors (and labors). The CWE invited America to come take notice that this western-railroad-cattletown was now a cultural-financial center. Like Columbus himself, the European “Old World” of art and architecture had crossed the Atlantic Ocean and resurrected in this “New World” of American progress, industry, and prosperity. Now along the shore of this inland Great Lake a “White City” fantasy had emerged. Crafted from the hands, talents, and imaginations of American “Beaux Arts” artists, sculptors and architects.
And like Eda Lord, from all over the United States, Canada, South America, Europe, Asia and the world, they came. In total, over 27,000,000 million people attended the entire 1893 Columbia International Exposition. That number was half of the US population of 54 million then.
I told Jim Dixon that just seeing his Great-Grandmother Eda’s ticket made me wonder:
- How old was Eda Lord when she attended the Fair?
- Who would she go with?
- Would a lady attend alone?
- She lived in Evanston, north of the city. She could have rode the train from there in less than an hour into the “White City”.
- She might have passed the “Buffalo Bill Wild West Show” on her way to the main Gate.
Here is what Jim told us about the ticket:
I started pouring through the boxes of family history tonight. I have a long way to go, but I found something that is perhaps a clue. Of all things, Eda Lord saved a ticket stub from the World’s Columbian Exposition for “Chicago Day” on Oct 9th 1893. The ticket is numbered and obviously a part was torn off. It is in perfect shape. Attached is a scan of the ticket. Much more exploring to do and I will send along anything relevant that I find.
Well Jim, You have quite a find! That is a valuable souvenir. And a family history keepsake.
HERMON ATKINS MACNEIL:
Hermon MacNeil was there as well. For three years he worked on drawings, plans and sculpture.
MacNeil sculpted figures on the Electricity building (MORE HERE). He was only 27 years old then. He had returned from study in Paris from about 1888 – 1890. He came to Chicago to work with Phillip Martiny. Some say he stopped in New York to get a letter of recommendation from August Saint-Gaudens to give to Martiny in Chicago.
A hundred or more artists sculpted the White City. Many would be MacNeil’s contemporaries and colleagues through his life. Carol Brooks, who Hermon MacNeil would marry two years later, was also one of the women sculptors called in at the last months to finish the plaster-staff statues that adorned the Fair. (Carol had studied sculpture with both Lorado Taft and Frederick William MacMonnies) Carol was also a member of “The White Rabbits” ~ a self-christened group of women sculptors called in to complete the massive work load of ‘staff’ statues needed for the Chicago Fair in 1893. ).
Also to see my post CLICK HERE (look for their ‘Marriage’ paragraph.)
HERE ARE CLOSE-UP PHOTOS THAT SUGGEST THAT THIS “Primitive Indian Music” PIECE WAS AN EARLY PROTO-TYPE OF THE “PRIMITIVE CHANT” STATUE (WHICH WAS MUCH MORE REFINED AND POLISHED IN ITS CASTING FINISH.)
It is also based on “Black Pipe”, the young Sioux Brave. MacNeil first saw Black Pipe at the Buffalo Bills Wild West Show and we know that he returned many times to study the Indians. ( I have ordered two books on Buffalo Bills Wild West Show, the Indians, conditions, treatment etc.)
We will return to the story of “Black Pipe”, the young Sioux Brave. Perhaps, like MacNeil, we will return many times. ~~ DNL