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 & info of works by MacNeil.

~ Hundreds of stories and photos posted here form this virtual MacNeil Gallery of works all across the U.S.A.  New York to New Mexico — Oregon to South Carolina.

~ 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 1893 Columbian Exposition -Chicago

“The Pony Express” heads West into the setting sun. MacNeil loved to study the site and setting for his works so he could place them into their unique Horizon as this dramatic shot highlights.

On first viewing, the sculptures of Hermon MacNeil express amazing beauty and gracefulness.  A second and third viewing reveals MacNeil’s careful inclusion of unique details connected to the subjects, objects and historical periods that he sought to portray in bronze and stone.

In sculpting a befitting monument to the “Pony Express” in 1940, Hermon MacNeil showed his abiding attention to detail.  Studying this “last” public monument reveals a series of actions he completed in preparing and perfecting his final product:

  • He found a suitable “stallion” as his model.
    • The charger he found was a rescued “wild mustang” from the plains of the North Dakota (Teddy Roosevelt country).  The steed was used as a rodeo “bucking bronco” and named after the Mexican outlaw, Poncho Villa.
    • Hermon referred to the animal as “glorious horse flesh”. This was the musculature that he immortalized in bronze. For the last 80 years  it’s been heading West out of downtown Saint Joseph, Missouri, just a few blocks from the Pony Express Station of the 1860’s.
    • The back story of “Poncho Villa” this outlaw mustang from North Dakota by way Madison Square Gardens is a prime example
  • He became friends with a physician nicknamed the “cowboy doctor”.
    • The man was Dr. S. Meredith Strong of Flushing, NY, a neighboring community to College Point where MacNeil lived and had his studio.
    • Dr. Strong was devoted to the preservation of “wild mustangs” from the prairies.
    • Strong was president of the American Rough Riders, “an organization devoted to the preservation of the horse, and especially the native wild pony.”
  • MacNeil studied the history of the Pony Express.
    • He did this by visiting St. Joseph, Missouri where the Pony Express Museum is located and by evaluating the site designated for the monument.
    • He also had Dr. Strong’s interest, knowledge and fervor to instruct him.

Theatrically, MacNeil had his own fascination fueled by attending the “Buffalo Bill Wild West Show” at the Chicago Worlds Fair (Columbian Exposition).  Buffalo Bill Cody included a re-enactment of a Pony Express ride as a regular dramatization during his shows.  He himself claimed to be a rider, though some dispute that assertion.  

  • The photos below show the actual clay model taken from his studio after his death in 1947.  The broken forelegs and head show the wire structure that the clay was modeled on.
  • I took these photos in the archives of the Swope Art Museum in Terre Haute, IN. MacNeil built a wire frame on which he constructed his clay model of the horse.
  • Swope Art Museum has remnants of H. A. MacNeil’s small clay models of larger statues salvaged from his studio and storage after his death.
  • Wire frames were a standard practice for constructing clay statue figures of larger proportions. 
  • FOR EXAMPLE: His Manuelito Statue in Gallup, NM was made in 1895 of cement over a wire frame.  It has been restored. 
  • NOTE: I have yet to visit Gallup and see the restored Manuelito statue.

MacNeil was a natural talent as an artist.  His training helped him perfect those innate skills.  By their nature sculptors must be talented artists.  Those skills start early in life.  They include

  • a visual attention to detail. 
  • Visual imaging and proportions.
  • an ability to capture and reproduce the essence of a object and form. 

From there the  process becomes quite meticulous. Phases involved can be described as including:

Model of a Pony Express saddle similar to Dr. Strong’s collection and what MacNeil depicted on his Monument. (Compare actual photo of MacNeil’s work below:)

  • detailed observation;
  • research;
  • historical accuracy;
  • design and balance;
  • construction;
  • inclusion of details and symbols.

The Long Island Star heralded “Poncho Villa”,  his rescuer, Dr. Strong, and Hermon MacNeil’s mastery of sculptural detail in the following narration:

“Watch Out. Pard!     Dr. Strong acquired Poncho from the rodeo after it broke up in New York, just as he did his last “pet.”  The outlaw put six men in the hospital before the physician was able to gain its confidence after months of patient work.  But even today the pony is a one-man animal.  He is a gentle as a lamb when the doctor is around, but let a stranger come near – if you don’t care what happens to the stranger! 

            Fittingly enough for a horse that modeled for the Pony Express statue, Poncho has red, white and blue markings.  The gun, holster, spurs, belt and other accessories sculptured in the replica are all relics which Dr. Strong brought from New Mexico.”   (From the Long Island Star, Tuesday November 19, 1940)

Details of the mail bags as MacNeil modeled them after Dr. Strong’s authentic Pony Express gear from the 1930’s.

Related posts:

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.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

https://lh3.googleusercontent.com/p/AF1QipMoXrdAoOT7PRD-QcwjCC96VrRg_aDC7F7aay66=s1600-w1600

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.]

 

Footnotes:

  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.]

 

In the 1890’s Women Sculptors were not accepted as students by many established sculptors. One exception was Larado Taft of Chicago. He taught and encouraged many female student artist to develop their skills as sculptors.

Lorado Taft and sculpture class

Description:Photograph of Lorado Taft and his sculpture class at the Chicago Art Institute (ca. 1890s). Identified individuals are Carrie Brooks McNeil (seated, front left), Julia Bracken (seated front right), Will LeFavor (standing second from left in checkered apron), and Lorado Taft (standing third from right in black vest). (Note 1)

The White Rabbits

The story is told by Wikipedia as follows: As the date of the f air’s opening grew closer, Taft realized that he would not be able to complete the decorations in time. Discovering that all the male sculptors he had in mind were already employed elsewhere, he asked Daniel Burnham if he could use women assistants, an occurrence that was virtually unheard of at that time. Burnham’s reply was that Taft could “hire anyone, even white rabbits, if they can get the work done.” Taft, an instructor of sculpture at the Chicago Art Institute who had many qualified women students and who frequently employed women assistants himself, brought in a group of women assistants who were promptly dubbed “the White Rabbits.”

One side note:  The White Rabbits helped build the White City, as the Chicago Fair was called.  “Thine alabaster cities gleam, undimmed by human tears”  were the words that Katherine Lee Bates wrote in 1895 in her poem “America, the Beautiful.”  Samuel A. Ward composed the hymn tune in 1882. It was combined with Bates’ poem in 1910 and published as “America, the Beautiful.” Read the complete history HERE  . The words became part of the third verse inspired by her seeing the Columbian Exposition “White City” in 1893. 

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/White_Rabbits_(sculptors)

From the ranks of the White Rabbits were to emerge some of the most talented and successful women sculptors of the next generation. These include:

Horticultural Building

Horticulture Building of World’s Columbian Exposition in Chicago in 1893. Women Sculptors nick named the “White Rabbits” created much of the work on this building. Carol Louise Brooks (later MacNeil) was one of those sculptors. (Note 2)

Besides their work on the Horticultural Building, several of the White Rabbits were to obtain other commissions to produce sculpture at the Exposition. Among these were Lawrence’s statue of Columbus, placed in front of the Administration Building, Yandell’s Daniel Boone for the Kentucky Building, Bracken’s Illinois Greeting the Nations in the Illinois Building, and Farnsworth’s Columbia for the Wisconsin Building.

Enid Yandell’s “Daniel Boone” in Louisville, Kentucky
Note 3. SOURCE: PJ Chmiel https://farm1.staticflickr.com/196/497505305_c32f7e852d_b.jpg
Horticulture Building of World’s Columbian Exposition in Chicago in 1893. Women Sculptors nick named the “White Rabbits” created much of the work on this building. Carol Louise Brooks (later MacNeil) was one of those sculptors. (Note 2)

Notes:

  1. Original photo found in RS 26/20/16, Box 25, Art Institute Classes. Phys. Desc: TIFF     Original photo is 7.75″ x 4.5″ ID:0006291. Repository: University of Illinois Archives. Found in: Lorado Taft Papers, 1857-1953. Subjects: American SculptureChicago Art Institute Taft, Lorado, 1860-1936. Rights:This image is in the public domain. Please contact us if you would like to purchase a high-resolution copy of the image.
  2. [CREDITS: By C.D. Arnold – Arnold, C.D., The World’s Columbian Exposition: Portfolio of Views, Issued by the Department of Photography, National Chemigraph Company, Chicago, 1893, Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=29205089]
  3. PHOTO: Daniel Boone statue; by PJ Chmiel. See his gallery on Flickr: https://www.flickr.com/photos/pjchmiel/  also https://farm1.staticflickr.com/196/497505305_c32f7e852d_b.jpg

 

One Hundred and twenty-three years (123) ago, Hermon Atkins MacNeil and Carol Louise Brooks were on married Christmas Day.

Recently an invitation to their Wedding Reception came available from the estate of Walter Pratt. He was a first cousin of Hermon. A facsimile appears below.

Married in a private ceremony on Christmas Day Hermon and Carol MacNeil had a reception in the Marquette Building

Noteworthy, is the location of the reception: the “Studio 1733 Marquette Building Chicago, Adams and Dearborn Streets, Chicago”. Recovery of this printed invitation adds several previously unknown facts to the story of their wedding day.  The 19th Century Marquette Building is the 21st Century home of the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation.

The wedding earlier in the day was a private ceremony. Rev. Edward F. Williams, a Congregational Minister, officiated. Their license, completed in Rev. Williams hand, appears below.

Marriage License of Hermon Atkins MacNeil and Carol Louise Brooks issued on December 24th, 1895 and completed on Christmas Day 1895 by Rev. Edward F. Williams, Congregational Minister.

“Marriage: On Christmas Day 1895, in Chicago, he married Carol Louise Brooks, also a sculptor (see their marriage record below). Earlier MacNeil was informed that he had won the Rinehart Roman Scholarship. Following their wedding, the pair left for Rome, passing three years there (1896-1899) and eventually spend a fourth year in Paris where their first son, Claude, was born.  During those years they studied together under the same masters and shared the income of the Rinehart scholarship awarded to Hermon. (Carol had also studied sculpture with both Lorado Taft and Frederick William MacMonnies).”

Both Carol and Hermon sculpted for the Chicago World’s Fair of 1893. Carol Brooks was one of Lorado Taft’s “White Rabbits”

Lorado Taft’s “White Rabbits” https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/White_Rabbits_(sculptors)

Hermon sculpted statues on the Electricity Building (See picture below)

Sketch of Hermon MacNeil from a newspaper article announcing the 1895 award of the Rinehart Prize
Carol Brooks MacNeil in 1907 with their two sons, Claude (rt) and Alden (lt) at their College Point Home in Queens, NYC, NY where she lived until her death in 1944.

Related posts:

  1. ~ ~ ~ “The Most Happy Young Man I Know” ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ Hermon A. MacNeil ~ Success & Marriage! (13) 1895 Hermon Atkins MacNeil, American Sculptor (1866-1947) MacNeil’s bronze of…
  2. Hermon MacNeil ~ “The Most Happy Young Man I Know!” (10) ~ Christmas Day 1895 ~ In 1895, Amy Aldis Bradley…
  3. Hermon MacNeil at the 1893 Columbian Exposition ~ ~ ~ THE CHICAGO YEARS ~ ~ (9) CHICAGO YEARS:  Partners and Colleagues When Hermon MacNeil came home to the…
  4. “PRIMITIVE INDIAN MUSIC” ~ Part 3: 1894 Eda Lord’s Ticket to the Chicago World’s Fair (9) Eda Lord, (the woman who purchased the MacNeil bronze statue,…
  5. The MacNeil’s Chicago Wedding – Christmas Day 1895 (9) I sit here in Chicago during this Christmas Season, imagining…
  6. MacNeil – Brooks 120th Anniversary (1895-2015) (7) On Christmas Day one dozen decades ago, Hermon A. MacNeil…

Carol Brooks MacNeil - 1907 - Twelve years after her marriage to Hermon

Carol Brooks MacNeil – 1907 – Twelve years after her marriage to Hermon

H.A.MacNeil ~1895 sketch - Chicago-Sun

H.A.MacNeil ~1895 sketch – The Sun (New York City)

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:

  1. Christmas Day Wedding for Two Young Sculptors! Hermon Atkins MacNeil and Carol Louise Brooks

  2. “The Most Happy Young Man I Know” ~ Hermon A. MacNeil ~ Success & Marriage!
  3. Christmas Day Wedding for Two Young Sculptors! Hermon Atkins MacNeil and Carol Louise Brooks

  4. MacNeil’s Chicago Wedding

Eda Lord's Chicago World's Fair Ticket from 'Chicago Day.' Her great-great grandson, Jim Dixon found it an a box of her memobilia from the era when she bought her MacNeil sculpture.

Eda Lord’s Chicago World’s Fair Ticket from ‘Chicago Day.’ (Her great-great grandson, Jim Dixon found it an a box of her memobilia from the era when she bought her MacNeil sculpture.)

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 – 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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5. Add your comments or a blog of your adventure. It adds personal interest for viewers.
6. Send photos to HAMacNeil@gmail.com Contact me there with any questions. ~~ Webmaster