Archive for 1901 Pan-American Exposition ~Buffalo NY
Several sculptures of Hermon Atkins MacNeil are featured in a current exhibition at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City continuing through April 13, 2014. The show entitled “The American West in Bronze, 1850-1925” contains three parts: Indians, wild animals, and cowboys.
Three MacNeil works of early Native American images are visible online in an 8 photo slide show of the exhibit. They are apparently part of the “Indians” segment of the show. CLICK HERE for the link to this slide show. The MacNeil works include The Chief of the Multnomah (slide #3 in left background); The Moqui Runner (slide #6 foreground); The Sun Vow (slide #6 right rear).
The exhibit has received some criticism in a NY Times art review entitled “Manifest Destiny at the Point of a Gun” by Ken Johnson. The MacNeil pieces are specifically not mentioned in Johnson’s critique.
(More on Ken Johnson’s comments in the another article.)
“The American West in Bronze, 1850-1925” continues through April 13 at the Metropolitan Museum of Art; 212-535-7710, metmuseum.org.
Hermon MacNeil’s interest in Native American culture began in (of all places) Chicago. Before he ever traveled to the Southwest in 1895 to visit the Hopi (Moqui), and Navajo people, Native culture visited him in Chicago.
The live Native model for “The Primitive Chant” (at left) was a Sioux warrior by the name of Black Pipe. Hermon first saw Black Pipe in the ‘Buffalo Bill’s Wild West Show’ at the Chicago World’s Fair of 1893. That winter, MacNeil found Black Pipe cold and desolate on the sidewalks of Chicago. MacNeil said that he gave him food and work as a model and an assistant in MacNeil’s studio (shared with Charles F. Browne).
More than being a model called in to portray an idea of the sculptor, Black Pipe portrayed a Native ritual dance, an ecstatic religious experience. The full title “Primitive Chant to the Great Spirit,” implies a religious experience that the native was depicting. Lorado Taft, in his criticisms below, seems to miss the probable point of how this image came to be. This image is not MacNeil’s in the mind of the artist, rather it is in the ecstatic religious memory of the model, Black Pipe. I wonder how Hermon MacNeil experienced this Sioux’s portrayal as the warrior was transported in an ecstatic dance offered to the Great Spirit. MacNeil said that Black Pipe worked for him for the next year and a half. The Sioux warrior is immortalized in this piece and in the facial portrait pictured below. (Both photos are part of the Smithsonian Achieves ~ http://siris-juleyphoto.si.edu/ipac20/ipac.jsp?&profile=all&source=~!sijuleyphotos&uri=full=3100001~!128333~!0 )
The urging and support of Edward Everett Ayers led MacNeil and two companions, Hamlin Garland and Charles F. Browne, to travel to the southwestern territories (four-corners of New Mexico, Colorado, Arizona, Utah) in the summer of 1895. Their goals were to witness the vanishing images of the Native people, of the Southwest.
MacNeil made plaster models of native images and events and shipped them back to Chicago for later inspiration. Many of the sculptures that he made in Rome to fulfill the Rinehart Scholarship requirements were based on these early studies from the Southwest. These would include the ‘Moqui Runner’, and the ‘Sun Vow’. Returning to these themes three decades later, he crafted the Society of Medalists Issue #3 in 1931, after the “Moqui Runner” and the “Hopi Prayer for Rain.” His 106 foot long bas relief frieze on the North side of the Missouri Capitol contains a section that seems to be the basis for the SOM #3 Issue of 1931 called “Hopi Prayer for Rain.”
Lorado Taft ‘imagined’ MacNeil’s ‘days’ in Rome in very ‘idealistic’ terms. He suggested that the Reinhart Rome Scholarship must have given MacNeil an ideal time for focused ‘days’ of study:
“Four years of them with three hundred and sixty-five days in each year! To live in the Villa dell’ Aurora, to work upon subjects of one’s own choice, with no care and all expenses paid — what better could an artist ask for.? The only requirements made by the trustees were “satisfying evidences of industry,” to be attested in the form of “a life-size figure at the end of the second year, a relief containing two life-size figures before the close of the third year, and during the fourth year a life-size group of two or more figures in the round.” [Lorado Taft, The History of American Sculpture, 1903, p. 439].
In his, THE HISTORY OF AMERICAN SCULPTURE, published in 1903, Taft critiques several of MacNeils sculptures in very flattering terms. He praises the ‘technical quality’ of this piece while questioning the artist choice of a dancer playing his armpit as a musical instrument. His exact words are offered in the passage below:
“The next figure, ” A Primitive Chant,” possesses every technical quality of good sculpture. While the idea of an Indian making strange noises by blowing or shouting in the crook of his arm awakens no responsive thrill of imagination, this is nevertheless a powerful work. Its triumph is all the more marked since our surrender is, in a sense, an unwilling one. We are not prejudiced in favor of this tuneful creature, who, unlike a Hector or an Achilles, brings to his aid no emotional backing of poetry, no prestige of three thousand years’ success upon the ” boards.” This is sculpture pure and simple, — beauty of form, strength with refinement of modelling, compactness, breadth. The figure kneels, taking hold of the earth with powerful limbs ; the hands are clasped, the right elbow tight across the body, the arm raised at a right angle, concealing largely the savage face. The expanded chest and powerful back have fascinated the sculptor ; he has shaped them superbly.
That these are adequate reasons for the statue one is hardly prepared to say, though such beauty of modelling is almost a sufficient excuse. The trouble is that with nine persons out of ten, nay, with ninety-nine out of the hundred, beautiful modelling is not interesting nor a raison d’etre ; and with the more thoughtful the very fact of such costly elaboration enhances the perplexity. Why so much labor and so much time expended upon a thing unbeautiful in idea? With all its masterful workmanship, and even its sculptural pose, it remains but an illustration of an incident, a custom; curious it may be, and even to some persons moderately interesting, but possessing for none a deep significance. Where does the emotion come in — the poetic thrill which we are told is fundamental in the genesis of every great work of art, and which in turn a truly great work must convey in some fashion and some degree to men and women of taste? We are obliged to admit that in the lack of any supplementary hint at a deeper import — as of mourning or of love-making, of solitude, or of worship — the only response awakened by the action of the figure is a rather unsympathetic query regarding the nature of the “music” produced in so outlandish a fashion!” (pp. 437-439.)
Hermon A. MacNeil
A Primitive Chant to the Great Spirit
modeled by 1901
24 1/2 x 6 1/8 x 8 3/4 in.
Smithsonian American Art Museum,
Gift of Maurice Kawashima in honor of Dr. Richard Wunder
MacNeil has interpreted an Indian dancer as he chants into the crook of his upraised arm. The model for this sculpture was a Sioux Indian named Black Pipe, who was part of Buffalo Bill’s Wild West Show at the 1893 World’s Columbian Exposition in Chicago. Black Pipe remained in Chicago after the fair closed and became a regular model and studio assistant for MacNeil. The artist maintained a studio in Chicago, but traveled many times to the Southwest to observe Indian rituals, costumes, crafts, and ceremonies firsthand. In Primitive Chant, MacNeil captures the physical beauty and grace of the Native American, which he compared to that of Greek warriors.
Images of Hermon A. MacNeil’s sculpted medallion for the 1901 World’s Fair are as coveted today as they were 110 years ago. Here are three examples:
EXAMPLE #1 from 2010.
Below, a recent You Tube posting shares a trio of MacNeil’s beautiful Medals in Bronze, Silver and Gilt finishes. Thanks to Will of the American Association of Young Numismatists (AAYN) [See note #1 below], for making this video of these rare MacNeil medallions. Thanks as well, to website contributor and friend, Gibson Shell of Kansas City for his alert eye in finding this first beautiful example.
EXAMPLE #2 from 1901.
Manufacturers were so proud of winning the Gold Medal at the Pan American Exhibition that they displayed it prominently on their advertisements. Here in the ad below, the Mellin Food Company of Boston, a maker of ‘baby formula’, touts their wares with the MacNeil image at center stage of their ad. “Baby formula’ was a radically new idea in 1901. Their product had to compete with mother’s breast milk, an already accepted product with a much longer history. The Gold Medal from the Pan American Exposition gave their new product a greater recognition for quality and acceptance.
EXAMPLE #3 from 1901.
Here is another Gold Medal winner. F. R. Pierson a horticulturist operating a nursery and greenhouse at Tarrytown-on-Hudson, N.Y., won Eight Gold Medals at the 1901 Buffalo World’s Fair. His advertisement states that this is, “the largest number awarded any firm on the Flori-culture Department.” The ad enumerates the company’s prize-winning selections of Rhododendrons, evergreens, roses, cannas, bay trees, fig-leaf palms and hydrangeas. AND of course it bears MacNeil’s Pan American Exposition Medallion prominently at the top corners of the advertisement. [CLICK ON IMAGE TO ENLARGE]
These MacNeil sculpture medals were made by the Gorham Manufacturing Company of Boston, a quality producer of fine silver since 1832.
CLOSE UP VIEWS.
Pictured below are near-life-size images of Hermon A. MacNeil’s sculpture design for the Award Medals at the Pan American Exposition, held at Buffalo, NY in 1901. All award medals were struck from the same design whether in Bronze, Silver or Gold. These below are silver medals.
“PHYSICAL LIBERTY” 1904.
The buffalo image on the Obverse face of this medallion bears a resemblance to a MacNeil work he made three years later. That larger-than-life sculpture at the 1904 World’s Fair in Saint Louis, Missouri was known as “Physical Liberty” (see below). It stood at the top of the Cascade at that Exposition celebrating the 100th anniversary of the Louisiana Purchase. Ironically, MacNeil’s allegorical figure used Native American images to symbolize the vitality of American expansion westward.
A near arrogant sense of Manifest Destiny often accompanied such 19th Century concepts of American pride. An inescapable irony today, in our own 21st Century, is that MacNeil and many of his contemporary sculptors placed such Native American images at the center stage of these World Fairs. MacNeil’s embrace of Native American themes in his sculpting from 1895-1905 still offers us lessons in culture, anthropology and life values more than a century later.
2.) William Wroth’s “Long Walk” to Bosque Redondo also provides poignant insight into this period of the United States management of Native American peoples and the life of Chief Manuelito who was part of that “Long Walk” and signed the treaty of 1868 that sought to restore Navajo lands after the disastrous interventions of the US government.
3.) “The Long Walk” A Ten (10) Part video story of the Navajo “Fearing Time” accounting atrocities against the Navajo people from 1863 to 1868. Researched and produced with support of the George S. and Delores Dore’ Eccles Foundation and the Pacific Mountain Network. Part 1; Part 2; Part 3; Part 4; Part 5; Part 6; Part 7; Part 8; Part 9; Part 10.
4.) “The Long Walk” For a Navajo perspective view this video by Nanebah, whose great-great grandmother survived “The Long Walk”.
5.) “300 Miles – Or Long Walk Of The Navajo – Richard Stepp” For a musical tribute with an ‘American Indian Movement’ perspective.
6.) Leslie Linthicum, staff writer for the Albuquerque Journal, gives a delightful article, “Navajo Leader Stands Tall”. It offers historical irony from our 21st Century on attitudes toward Native American culture through her story of the ‘management’ and ‘preservation’ of MacNeil’s iconic statue of Chief Manuelito.
The American Association of Young Numismatists (AAYN) is an association dedicated to educating and impassioning young people about the hobby of coin collecting. We hope our videos help spark your interest in numismatics.
Trio of 1901 Pan American Exposition Medals: Bronze, Gilt and Silver This video discusses a trio of beautiful 1901 Pan American Exposition medals, manufactued by Gorham Co. You will find over 75 videos the AAYN Video Library on You Tube.
- 1901 Pan-American Exposition – Buffalo, New York ~~ “The Rainbow City” (10.3)
- MacNeil Sculpture “Meets Me in St. Louis” (20)
- Expositions and World’s Fairs ~ Hermon A. MacNeil (15.6)
- MacNeil at the 1893 Columbian Exposition ~ ~ ~ THE CHICAGO YEARS ~ ~ (10.8)
MacNeil’s “Moqui Runner” is running through a prominent Chicago Library. The “Runner’s” race began in 1924 and continues into the 21st century.
According to Scott Manning Stevens, Ph.D. (director of the McNickle Center at the Newberry), it is very likely that this Moqui belonged to Edward Everett Ayer himself. Its dimensions are the same as those specified in this AIC collection entry [AIC – “Moqui Runner”]
Edward Ayer also encouraged the young McNeil to travel to the American west and southwest. He urged artists and sculptors to capture the vanishing images of the native culture. In addition he was a patron of many artisans in such travels and western studies.
A portrait of Ayer’s office painted by his nephew, Elbridge Ayer Burbank, includes two MacNeil statuettes (light gray pieces) sitting on the bookcases. The one on the left resembles “Early Toil” (a figure of a native American woman carrying many objects of her daily labor). The other figure on the right appears to be “A Chief of the Multnomah” (an arrow straight chief standing proudly with his arms crossed over his chest). This second piece became the right half of the “Coming of the White Man” grouping that can be seen in Portland’s Washington Park and in Poppenhusen Institute in College Point, Queens, NYC (and in the previous post of June 1, 2011 on this website-see link at bottom).
The fact that Ayer private study would include these two MacNeil sculptures offers perpetual record to his connection to the artist and patronage of his western work. The fact that Ayer’s nephew included them in his painting composition bears testimony to his awareness of his uncle’s identity with MacNeil pieces.
MacNeil had Blackpipe model in his Chicago studio that he shared with C. F Browne after the 1893 Chicago World’s Fair. Blackpipe continued to work for him through 1894. This all gives evidence of his fascination with Native people and making them subjects of his sculpture. His travels in 1895 to the southwest (later called the four corners area) greatly influenced his sculpture choices for years to come. These works became the objects of his early public acclaim. Yet their influence remained throughout his career both personally and publicly. In 1931, for example, the Society of Medalists commissioned him to make their annual medal. The “Prayer for Rain” (the obverse – patterned after the “Moqui” shown here) and the “Hopi” (reverse) became his chosen subject. [“Hopi” was the later preferred spelling of the earlier “Moqui.”]
MacNeil’s Exhibit listings for the 1901 Pan-American Exposition are recorded in “The Catalogue of the Exhibition of Fine Arts.” Pan-American Exposition: Buffalo, 1901. p. 45-46; 59 This document indicates that the statue belonging to E. E. Ayer, Esq by 1901 was the one exhibited in the Pan-American exposition and receiving the Silver Medal in the Paris Fair of 1900. It appears that the Ayer Moqui pictured here is that same sculpture.
Records in the Catalogue of Pan-American Exposition of 1901 in Buffalo, NY are as follows:
H. A. MacNeil:
#1613. The Sun Vow – Silver Medal, Paris Exposition, 1900.
#1614. The Moqui Runner – Silver Medal, Paris Exposition, 1900 (Lent by E. E. Ayer, Esq)
#1615. Bust — Agnese
#1616. Bust – [Lent by C. F. Browne, Esq.]
MacNeil, H. A., 145 West 55th Street, New York, N. Y. (II*) 1613-1616
*II – indicates MacNeil exhibited in “Group II – Sculpture, including medals and cameos” p. 49.
The Art Institute of Chicago lists the following collection information:
- Hermon Atkins MacNeil
- American, 1866-1947
- The Moqui Runner (The Moqui Prayer for Rain—The Returning of the Snakes), Modeled 1896, cast c. 1897
- H. 57.2 cm (22 1/2 in.)
- Signed on side of base: “H. A. MAC NEIL. Sc. Fond. Nelli. ROMA”
- Inscribed around side of base, front: “THE RETURNING OF THE SNAKES”
- Inscribed under center of the figure, on base: “THE MOQUI / PRAYER.FOR.RAIN”
- Gift of Edward E. Ayer, 1924.1350
The size of this piece (72-74 measured variously) is the same of those in major museum collections. Several links on this website (see below and also “MUSEUMS: with MacNeil Art” section in lower right) connect to these “Sun Vows.” Possibly a dozen of these exist, publicly and privately.
Numerous smaller casts (about 36″) and even miniatures authorized by MacNeil himself were cast up until the 1920s. These also are highly desirable and found in many museums.
Buffalo Bill Historical Center – Cody WY (Sun Vow)
Orlando Museum of Art, Orlando FL
Chrysler Museum of Art – Norfolk, VA
Herman Atkins MacNeil often placed “Sc” behind his signature on sculptures (as seen above, and in other photos on his signature on this website.
According to McSpadden, an article on MacNeil in the Craftsman stated,
“In The Moqui Runner, The Primitive Chant, The Sun Vow, The Coming of the White Man, and many others of his Indian statues, MacNeil always gives you the feeling of the Indian himself, of his attitude toward his own culture of the Sun Vow that MacNeil has memorialized, are a compounded and profound statement of the power of art and artists. vanishing tribes, and his point of view toward the white race which has absorbed his country. It is never the Indian of Buffalo Bill’s Wild West, trapped out for curiosity seekers, but the grave, sad, childlike man of the plains, faithful to his own tribe, once loyal to us, though now resentful; and always a thinker, a poet, and a philosopher.” (McSpadden lists the following source: “The Art of MacNeil,” Craftsman. September 1909).
( See also: Florence Finch Kelly, “American Bronzes at the Metropolitan Museum: An Important Collection in Process of Formation.” Craftsman, 1907: Volume XI, February 1907, Number 5, pp 545-559.)
Dr. Andrew Walker, an associate curator at the St. Louis Art Museum, has written a chapter in “Shaping the West.” MacNeil’s ‘Sun Vow’ was chosen for the cover photo of that publication by the Denver Art Museum. Walker’s essay there is entitled: “Hermon Atkins MacNeil and the 1904 World’s Fair: A Monumental Program for the American West.” Walker has written and presented extensively on MacNeil.
While highlighting the work of Hermon Atkins MacNeil, Dr. Walker illustrates how the 1904 World’s Fair included a monumental sculpture initiative. He does this with narrative and photo description of the major sculptures that formed the grounds, fountains, waterfalls and buildings of the 1904 Louisiana Purchase Exposition in Saint Louis. The current St. Louis Art Museum (where Walker is a curator) was the “Palace of Fine Arts” conceived by Cass Gilbert, architect of the fair grounds (and later the US Supreme Court Building). Over a century later, Mac Neil’s three sculpture relief panels still look down from their vantage point above the three sets of doors at the main entrance.
The more I study this sculpture (as other MacNeil pieces?) the more new details I find in MacNeil’s creations.
The photo at right shows MacNeil’s Sun Vow with Daniel Chester French’s “Angel of Death” in the background. French and MacNeil were colleagues and collaborators. The Angel of Death has grasped the hand of the sculptor. See more of this DCF piece HERE.
Webmaster’s Comment: The beauty and ‘irony’ of the two sculptures together, long after the death of the two sculptors and the vanishing of the culture of the Sun Vow that MacNeil has memorialized, are a compounded and profound statement of the power of art and artists.
SHAPING THE WEST : American Sculptors of the 19th Century. With additional essays by Alice Levi Duncan, Thayer. Tolles, Peter Hassrick, Sarah E. Boehme, and Andrew Walker.
- Florence Finch Kelly, “American Bronzes at the Metropolitan Museum: An Important Collection in Process of Formation.” Craftsman, 1907: Volume XI, February 1907, Number 5, pp 545-559.)
The following article (by our Webmaster) was accepted for posting on the THE HISTORICAL MARKER DATABASE added to the existing story there.
3. H. A. MacNeil Sculpted the McKinley Monument in Columbus Ohio.
Hermon Atkins MacNeil (1866-1947) sculpted this monument consisting of the statue of President McKinley and the two accompanying grouping of figures on either side. These extra figures seek to represent the values that McKinley lived out and for which grieving citizens chose to remember him.
Industry & Trade are symbolized by the first group. The man of great strength instructs the youthful student beside him. Here the artist seeks to depict strength and wisdom being passed on to the next generation. The other figures, a gracious woman ( “Prosperity” ) with her arm encircling a little maiden ( “Peace” ) are meant by MacNeil to symbolize those ideals as well as the joy and virtues of domestic life. These female figures are placing the palm leaves and flowers of peace over the sword and helmet of war.
MacNeil commented twenty years after completing this monument that while he worked very hard on sculpting the portrait of the President, he could follow his fancy in making the other figures. They only needed to convey the values and ideals consistent with McKinley and the Monument’s purpose there on the Capitol Plaza. MacNeil considered them all some of his finest works. Note To Editor only visible by Contributor and editor