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 1901 Pan-American Exposition ~Buffalo NY

MacNeil’s “Moqui Runner” is running through a prominent Chicago Library. The “Runner’s” race began in 1924 and continues into the 21st century.

Macneil's "Moqui Runner" has silently raced through the Newberry Library since 1924

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).

 

MacNeil has captured the intensity of the Hopi Runner.

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's swift Runner, balanced on one foot, remains frozen in time from the 19th, to 20th, to 21st Centuries. (Webmaster's photo: D. Leininger - background removed to enhance image)

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.]
  • p. 59.
  • 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:

MacNeil's "Moqui Runner" at the Newberry Library (photo by webmaster - bkgd removed)

  • Hermon Atkins MacNeil
  • American, 1866-1947
  • The Moqui Runner (The Moqui Prayer for Rain—The Returning of the Snakes), Modeled 1896, cast c. 1897
  • Bronze
  • 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

See Moqui Runner ~ Previous Post

https://hermonatkinsmacneil.com/2010/09/01/the-moqui-moki-hopi-prayer-runner-by-hermon-a-macneil/

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The Sun Vow is certainly Hermon Atkins MacNeil’s most visible and famous sculpture. If you ever have a chance to see it, please do so. (Even our best pictures on this website cannot do justice to the detail of this sculpture or to the creativity of the artist.)

Gibson Shell, sent us some “Sun Vow” photos from his recent excursion to NYC.  These photos do provide detail and a truer sense of MacNeil’s careful presentation of these figures and the  Sun Vow ritual.

Hermon MacNeil's "Sun Vow" graces over a dozen museums including the MMA in NYC.

 

These “Sun Vow” poses are from the Metropolitan Museum of Art (73″ – Rogers Fund 1919). The backgrounds have been removed to present MacNeil’s composition without distractions.

Gib is a long-time Beaux Arts photographer — an amateur in the best sense of a ‘devotee, enthusiastic pursuer of any Beaux Arts sculpture.’ Gib has been a generous friend of this website. Dozens of his photos are featured already.  Hundreds more will be seen in future posts.

MacNeil made the “Sun Vow” in Rome as his final requirement for the Roman Rinehart Scholarship. The sculpture is signed with ‘RRS’ designating that commission of the piece. His typical signature “H. A. MacNeil Sc” (Sc for Sculptor~ See Gib’s photo below).

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.

Metropolitan Museum of Art – NYC, NY
Art Institute of Chicago
Phoenix Art Museum ~ Phoenix, AZ (Sun Vow)
The Saint Louis Art Museum ~St. Louis, MO (Reliefs over porch -Sun Vow)

His typical signature "H. A. MacNeil Sc" (Sc for Sculptor). Underneath the initials "RRS" (for "Roman Rinehart Scholarship," his sponsor of study) and the Location of casting "ROME"

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.

It is all in the faces - the ideals passed to a new generation.

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 'Sun Vow' at the MMA - NYC - with Daniel Chester French's "Angel of Death" in relief in background (See also Webmaster's <= Comment at left.

 

 

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.

 

SOURCES:

  1. 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.

  2. 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.)


 

McKinley's pose here resembles MacNeil's statue of him in 1904. (Credit: Frances B. Johnson- Ohio Historical Society-AL00501)

The following article (by our Webmaster) was accepted for posting on the THE HISTORICAL MARKER DATABASE added to the existing story there.

MacNeil's McKinley at Ohio Statehouse plaza

 

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

— Submitted March 18, 2011, by Dan Leininger of Sioux Falls, South Dakota.

History books record it.    ~~~    Public records document it.

~~~    But have you ever seen it?

Hermon MacNeils bust titled “Agnese” as pictured in Lorado Taft’s “History of American Sculpture” in 1904.

In his 1904 book “The History of American Sculpture,” Lorado Taft reviews various works by our favorite sculptor ~~ Hermon A. MacNeil.  Taft mentions:

“Two busts of women modelled by him are among the finest works yet produced by an American. Herbert Adams alone has surpassed the ” Agnese ” (Fig. 72), which was done in Rome from a patrician beauty, and exhibited at Buffalo in 1901. ” Beatrice,” a later work, is no less beautiful in execution, though somewhat strained in pose. These busts illustrate the artistic conscience of the sculptor, his delight as well as his skill in pure modelling. Earnest and industrious, he is blessed with a continuity of energy which counts for more than paroxysms of effort.”   (p.445.)

Taft mentions that the “Agnese” was exhibited in the  1901 Pan American Exhibition (Buffalo World’s Fair). The image (Fig 72 in Taft’s book) may have come from that exhibition. We do not know the source of this image that Taft used.  Nor over a century later, do we know of other images of “Agnese.”

This sculpture appears“Mysterious” in many ways.

  • her smile seems both beguiling and alluring;
  • the picture shows a sculpted bust that appears to stare unnervingly at the viewer;
  • the stark, overhead lighting heightens or creates the sense of a stare;
  • the background gives no hint of a context, a place, or any identifying features;
  • her mysterious smile seems to imply a knowledge not shared with the viewer;
  • the letters “AGNESE” on the corner of the base offer the only identity, yet itself a still a mystery.

Questions that remain in this stage of research include:

  • What is the composition of this statue? Marble? Paster?  Other?
  • Why can we find no other pictures of this piece?
  • Was there only an Original “Agnese” and no other copies?
  • What was the fate of this statue?
  • Is “Agnese” in private hands?
  • Does she still exist?

Other than that, I have NO questions!

Related Images:

Sculptures that Hermon A. MacNeil’s exhibited for the 1901 Pan-American Exposition in Buffalo, New York.

The above works that Hermon A. MacNeil’s exhibited in Buffalo for the 1901 Pan-American Exposition are listed in:

“The Catalogue of the Exhibition of Fine Arts.” Pan-American Exposition: Buffalo, 1901. (p. 45-46; p. 59).

pp. 45-4. 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.]

p. 59.

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.

Some of these people mentioned in that exhibition record were to be long term colleagues, friends and patrons of MacNeil’s art and career.

Charles Francis Browne was a painter and friend who accompanied Hermon MacNeil and author, Hamlin Garland, to the southwest in the summer of 1895. They wanted to gain direct experience of American Indians to inform their art. What the trio found reflected in their respective painting, sculpture and writing.

MacNeil’s subsequent sculptures of Native Americans after that summer of 1895 continued a cultural focus that began with his friendship and sculpting of Black Pipe, the Sioux warrior. He first met Black Pipe at the Buffalo Bill Wild West Show at the Chicago World’s Fair in 1893.  The Sioux modeled for MacNeil and later worked in his studio for over a year.

Edward Everett Ayers was an art patron to both MacNeil and Browne.  He had been a Civil War Calvary officer stationed in the southwestern United States.  He became a lumberman who made a fortune selling railroad ties and telephone poles. He urged MacNeil to travel to see the vanishing West of the American Indian.  He became an arts benefactor whose art collections are now housed by the Art Institute of Chicago, as well as, the Newberry Library.

All the above is but a small part of the history woven into this simple Exhibition catalogue entry from 1901.  More later on Macneil’s mysterious “Agnese.”

Related Images:

Between 1893 and 1905 Hermon Atkins MacNeil and his sculptures were involved in four World’s Fairs.  The Pan-American Exposition in Buffalo, New York (1901) was the second of these events. Popularly known as the 1901 World’s Fair in Buffalo NY, over 8 Million people attended the exhibition.

University of Deleware ~ Special Collections website offers this description;

The most unusual aspect of the Pan-American was the color scheme of its buildings. Unlike the pristine design of the “White City,” the architectural plan of the Pan-American was to build a “Rainbow City.” The buildings were done in a Spanish Renaissance style and were colored in hues of red, blue, green, and gold. The Electric Tower, the focal point of the fair, was colored deep green with details of cream white, blue, and gold. At night, thousands of electric lights outlined the buildings.

"The Sun Vow" (photo courtesy of Gib Shell)

Hermon Atkins MacNeil's "The Moqui Runner" (The Moqui Prayer for Rain -- The Returning of the Snakes) 1896, cast 1897.

In the year 1900, MacNeil returned to the United States after three years in Rome and a fourth back in Paris.  He settled in New York City. Within a year, MacNeil set up a home and an adjoining studio in College Point, Long Island (now Flushing, Queens ). His studio became his work place for the next four decades.

MacNeil’s “Sun Vow” and the “Moqui Runner” were both exhibited at the 1901 Fair.  The “Sun Vow” had received a silver medal at the Paris exhibition of 1900.  It was exhibited again at the Columbian Exposition of 1904 — the Saint Louis World’s Fair. As the years passed, it would become his best known work.  (Webmaster’s Note: It recently graced the cover of the 2010 Denver Art Museum publication, “Shaping the West: American Sculptors of the 19th Century”)

At the Buffalo Exhibition he was asked to do the pediment sculptures for the Anthropological Building, as well as a grouping known as “Despotic Age.”  Craven described the work as follows:

The spirit of despotism with ruthless cruelty spreads her wings over the people of the Despotic Age, crushing them with the burden of war and conquest and draging along the victims of rapine (plunder), a half savage figure sounds a spiral horn in a spirit of wild emotion. (Craven, SIA, p. 518)

MacNeil’s sculpture design for the Award Medals at the Pan American Exhibition, Buffalo, NY 1901 (front)  [ photo credits: CCya at http://www.coincommunity.com/forum/topic.asp?ARCHIVE=true&TOPIC_ID=25738

MacNeil designed the official gold medal (displayed here in silver) struck in celebration of the Pan American Exhibition.  His commissioned design bears a youthful woman standing beside a buffalo on the obverse side. She represents the triumph of the intellect over physical power.  The reverse depicts two Indians with a sharing a peace pipe. One, a North American Indian, extends the extends the pipe to the South American Indian.  Craven notes that

MacNeil's sculpture design for the Award Medals at the Pan American Exhibition, Buffalo, NY 1901 (reverse). All award medals were struck from the same design whether in Bronze, silver or gold. These are silver medals.

MacNeil chose to portray the theme of “Pan-American friendship through images of the red man, not the white man.” (Craven, SIA, P. 519).  We can also observe that this choice extended MacNeil’s selection of native people into a second continent. [Photo credits CCya at http://www.coincommunity.com/forum/topic.asp?ARCHIVE=true&TOPIC_ID=25738]

President William McKinley was assassinated at the fair. On Sept. 6, 1901, Leon Czolgosz shot President McKinley in the Temple of Music, a pavilion of the Buffalo, New York, Pan-American Exposition. Eight days later, on Sept. 14, McKinley was dead.  We do not know if MacNeil was present at the Fair when the President was attacked.  In some sense, President McKinley’s overshadowed the rest of the Exposition. Buffalo promoted the event in order to be seen as a prosperous, modern, technologically-advanced city,.  Instead  Buffalo became seen as the city of the assassination.

McKinley making his last public speech before he was assassinated, Buffalo, New York, September 5, 1901. (His pose in this photo resembles that of MacNeil's statue of him in 1904). (Credit: Frances B. Johnson-Ohio Historical Society-AL00501)

In the  years following The Buffalo Exhibition, a series of important commissions would raise him to prominence as a major American sculptor. One of those was, oddly enough, was the McKinley Monument Statue and Plaza at the front of the Ohio State Capitol Building where McKinley served two terms as the governor of the state.

The only remaining building of the fair is the New York State Pavilion.  It is now the home of the Buffalo and Erie County Historical Society. (see map) A boulder marking the site of McKinley’s assassination was placed in a grassy median on Fordham Drive

1901 Pan-American Exposition links: (active as of this posting date)

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WHAT YOU FIND HERE.

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
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WE DESIRE YOUR DIGITAL PHOTOS – Suggestions

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