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 and info about these works by MacNeil. ]

~ 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!

The MacNeil Studio no longer stands. In it’s nearly fifty years beside the East River Sound, many sculptor assistants, sculptures, and models of works were shaped in that place.

Postcard of MacNeil studio in College Point. From the webmaster’s collection.

This postcard and the Christmas card of 1912, posted on December 22, 2016, show the exterior of the studio. Pictures of the inside of MacNeil’s studio are rare.

However, one word picture offers a captivating account from about 1902-1903.   (Jo Davidson, Between Sittings, Dial Press: New York, 1941).

As an 18 year-old struggling artist, Jo Davidson aspired to become a sculptor. (http://www.highlands-gallery.com/jo-davidson) 

Though young, he was outgoing, naively confident, and very determined. In his autobiography he shares a fascinating encounter with Hermon MacNeil. Davidson gives a vivid description of both of MacNeil’s studios on Fifty-fifth Street and in College Point. Davidson eventually went on to become a renowned portrait sculptor of over 250 world leaders.  See him below sculpting a bust of General Eisenhower nearly fifty years later.  However, his initial impressions upon MacNeil were much less inspiring. Davidson recounts their meeting with understated humor:

Jo Davidson making a bust of General Dwight D. Eisenhower (1948) SOURCE: Laurant Davidson ( http://www.highlands-gallery.com/jo-davidson )

“On my first visit to New York, I went to the Art Students League and inquired who taught the sculpture class. I was told Herman [sic] A. MacNeil. They gave me his address, the Holbein Studios over the stables on West Fifty-fifth Street. I went to call on him to see if I could get a job in his studio. He asked me whether I had ever done any modeling, and remembering Mister Broadman’s encouragement, I told him I had. MacNeil looked at me quizzically and said, ‘I have to go out for a bit.’ He handed me a blueprint, saying, “ See what you can do with this,’ and took me to a stand piled up with plasticine – the beginning of a Corinthian capital. Then Mac Neil left.”

 “I had never seen a blueprint before in my life. I tried to figure it out, but it was hopeless. I looked around the studio. There were bronze statuettes of Indians; scale models of monuments; photographs of executed work; and some portrait heads. I was fascinated and impressed. I made up my mind to get a job with that man.”

 “I struggled with my Corinthian capital but got nowhere. In the midst of this Mr. MacNeil returned. He looked at the sorry mess I had made of his model, shook his head and asked, ‘How much do you expect to earn in a week?’”

 “I meekly suggested fifteen dollars.

He said, ‘Young man, you will never make that at sculpture.’

I asked him what he would give me, taking for granted that a job was there for me. He was taken unawares and said, ‘Six dollars a week.’ I accepted. He looked defeated and said, ‘All right, Come in Monday morning.’”

 “I went home elated and told my people I had found a job in a great sculptor’s studio. Though they did not approve, I think they caught my enthusiasm; I could hardly wait for Monday morning. At the appointed time, I rang the studio bell. The door opened and Mr. MacNeil stuck his head out of the door scowling.

‘I’ve thought it over,’ he said. ‘You are not worth it.’

I followed him into the studio.

‘What am I worth?’ I asked

‘Four dollars.’

‘All right, I’ll take it’

He gave up. ‘All right, you go to my studio in College Point, Long Island and see Mr. [John] Gregory. Tell him you are the new studio boy.’

The ride was long and expensive, a carfare, a ferry and another carfare I arrived at the MacNeil house, which was on the Sound, in Long Island, and finally found Mr. Gregory

Mr. Gregory was rather brusque: ‘Come on, hang up your things,’ he said, and he introduced me to Henri Crenier, the master sculptor.”

Davidson goes on to describe the MacNeil Studio and his early experiences there. His word picture shares some similarities of old Smithsonian archive photos. 

The Poppenhusen Institute houses this plaster model of “A Chief of the Multnomah” donated in 1920 by MacNeil. It represents half of the “Coming of the White Man” grouping comissioned in 1904 for the City of Portland, Oregon by the family of David P. Thompson. (photo courtesy of Bob Walker, College Point)

  

“The studio was a huge barn of a place or, so it appeared to me then. It was full of work in progress. There was the ‘Fountain of Liberty’ which Mr. MacNeil was making for the coming World’s Fair in St. Louis. It consisted of colossal rampant sea-horses, cavorting over a cascade of waves, sea formations and variegated seashells. At the other end of the studio there was an immense group in clay of two Indians – an older Indian standing on his tiptoes with his arms folded across his chest, looking into the distance, the younger Indian with his left hand on the old man’s shoulder and in his right hand waving an olive branch. The title of the group was ‘The Coming of the White Man.’ There were plaster molds and sketches of details of other projects.”

I was bewildered.  John Gregory woke me out of my trance and took me down to the cellar where he was working on some plaster moldings. It didn’t take him long to discover that I knew nothingbut he sensed my eagerness and was quick to give me advise and information. When I got home , I talked everybody’s ear off, but my sister Ray was the only one who listened sympathetically.   She wanted to know all about it and there was so much to tell.” 

STAY TUNED FOR “SO MUCH MORE TO TELL”

SOURCE:  Jo Davidson, Between Sittings: An Informal Autobiography (Dial Press: New York, 1951. Pp.13-16)

 

 

 

 

 

So Says the Greeting on this 104 year-old Christmas Card from the Hermon MacNeil Studio on College Point, Queens, New York.

 A photo of the MacNeil Studio on College Point, holly sprigs and a Doll-faced Christmas bell, these things grace the face of this holiday greeting card.

The back shows an addressee and a College Point postmark for Dec 24, 1912 with a cancellation on a 1 cent George Washington postage stamp.  Perhaps these cards were available to MacNeil’s students at the Pratt Institute as Seasons greetings. 

A publishers mark, “F. Hettling, Pub.” is listed on the bottom front in very small print.  

The addressee (Miss Jule Cox, 285 Carlton Ave, Brooklyn, New York) brings up a residence about 12 blocks from the Pratt Institute where MacNeil was an instructor for many years.  (Thus our ‘student theory’ on this Christmas note.  The signature is not readily decipherable (from The Deachins?).  All is written in black ink with a fountain pen.  — All in all, its a curious relic from a century ago.

The photo of the studio was used in other Christmas cards and newspaper articles about the MacNeil sculptors.

Hermon MacNeil built his Studio building out of stones.  These he gathered from the shoreline and bottom on the East River sound behind the studio.  Being the son and grandson of builders, he was familiar with hand labor, construction and masonry.  

The studio was bathed in natural light through skylights and featuresd a section where Carol Brooks MacNeil (Carrie) did her sculpture work as well.

This curious Item came up as an eBay offering during 2016.  SO guess who wanted it?  

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A model of the railroad station built for the Universal Exposition of 1900 in Paris. The building is the present day Musee d’Orsay

The Musee d’Orsay in the center of Paris was originally built as the railroad station for the Universal Exposition of 1900. MacNeil and his contemporary sculptors exhibited and received prizes in that competition.

It now is a Museum.   Sculptures made by MacNeil’s teachers are a part of the exhibits.  MacNeil had many teachers in Paris  at the Ecole Des Beau Arts. Below are the signatures of A [Alexandre] Falguiere and H [Henri] Chapu from two of their marble sculptures.

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Alexandre Falguiere (1831 – 1900)

Falguiere’s sculpture of Tarcisius was completed in 1867 when MacNeil was just 1 year old.

Alexandre Falguiere (1831-1900), Tarcisius, martyr chretien, 1867

Alexandre Falguiere (1831-1900), Tarcisius, martyr chretien, 1867

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Falguiere placed Christian symbols on has interpretation of the young martyr: Two doves of peace, olive branches, alpha and omega, and a cross of the chi-rho letters.

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Henri Chapu (1833-1891)

A beautiful feature of Chapu’s work graces the Musee d’Orsay — Joan of Arc (Jeanne d’Arc a’ Domremy 1870.DSCN4110

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Jeanne dArc A Domrem by Henri Chapu 1870

Jeanne dArc A Domremy by Henri Chapu 1870

  • Hermon MacNeil spent the summer of 1888 and the years of 1889-91 studying in Paris.  The following video shares some of the recent restoration of the Ecole de Beaux Arts.  This video tells the part of Ralph Lauren and company as benefactors to this world class seat of painting and sculpture.

Palais des Estudes in 2005 BEFORE restorations

Palais des Estudes in 2005 BEFORE restorations

Following photos are credited to Dan Leininger, webmaster,  from a tour of France in May 2015

Palais des Etudes in 2015 AFTER the restorations.

Palais des Etudes in 2015 AFTER the restorations.

 

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The inscription above the statues reads as follows “This monument begun under Louis XVIII, was completed in 1837 By Louis-Philippe”

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The year 1836 marks the beginning of the Hemicycle below.

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The Hemicycle of the Ecole Des Beaux-Arts, C.1836-41 was also brought back to life in the recent restorations. The original work was by Delaroche, Hippolyte (Paul) (1797-1856); French. Medium: oil on paper glued on canvas. Date: 19th Century. Les grands maitres autour d’Apelle, Ictinos et Phidias; 70 artists from antiquity to time of Louis XIV; architects and sculptors of the Parthenon; Provenance: Musee des Beaux-Arts, Paris France

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Senator Bernie Sanders at the Washington Arch In NYC on April 13, 2016. MacNeil’s statue of Washington as Commander of the Continental stands to the right on the back of the Arch. [Photo: www.hultonarchive.com ]

NEW YORK CITY —

In Washington Square Park last evening, two marble figures of “George Washington” stood quietly in the dark amid rallying cries for political revolution in the November 2016 Elections.

Hermon MacNeil’s  statue of “General George Washington” and Alexander Stirling Calder’s Statue of “President Washington” have graced the back of the monument for nearly a century.  They immortalize two facets of an American giant who was no stranger to either revolution or politics.

The 124-year-old marble Washington Arch framed a white-haired Bernie Sanders as the Brooklyn-born senator railed on about how politics is “fixed” for the wealthiest 1% of Americans.  A reported 27,000 people packed the park on a brisk NYC evening.  The event in one of the largest rallies of this campaign.

Senator Sander’s familiar stump speech rang out loud and clear as  the Presidential candidate’s raspy-voice pierced the night air.  The enthusiasm of “Gotham City” night-life roared from the sign-waving crowd. The event seemed to open another chapter in the life of this historic gathering place of American celebration and demonstration.

Washington Square Park as Senator Sanders spoke.

The white marble mass of the Washington Arch towers over the scene of a packed crowd filled with electric energy.

Sanders 40 years of independent politics has sounded themes of “income inequality”, “health care rights”, “Wall Street power”, and “corporate greed”  to list a few. In recent months he has thundered his message to ever-widening audiences across the United States.

The rally last evening brought Sanders home to his Brooklyn roots and this historic place of American identity and protest.

Whether it brought him any closer to George Washington’s old job has yet to be determined.

Behind the scenes MacNeil's likeness of General Washington guarded the rear flanks of the rally

This daylight view of MacNeil’s General Washington Profiled with Valor guarded the rear flanks of the Arch. The statue was added to the monument in 1917 – 1918.

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“Washington as President” by Alexander Stirling Calder stands opposite the MacNeil statue. The statue was added to the monument in 1917 – 1918.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Washington Arch BEFORE 1812 with no statues in place.

The Washington Arch BEFORE 1812 with no statues in place.

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 “Scotland ~ the beautiful home of historic clans.”

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Dan Leininger wears the modern MacNeil tartan six-yard kilt with formal dress jacket and MacNeil crest. Donna is dressed for comfort.

NO these are not Native Scot revelers.  Just a  stunning couple that have briefly transplanted from the U.S. of A.

Dan and Donna Leininger are celebrating Dan’s heritage from MacNeil and McKay clans. This pair have just finished 13 days of their 21 day MacNeil Clan tour.  These two travelers are decked out for an evening under the stars at the Military tattoo. 

Their journey through  Scotland included the 2014 Royal Edinburgh Military Tattoo. IMG_0402The annual event fills the stadium at Edinburgh Castle for 23 consecutive days and nights every August.  No summer tour of the Highlands is complete without witnessing this spectacle. Bands, Pipes, drums, marching, dancing, precision movement.  Three hours of spectacular entertainment in the cool night air of Scotland.

Bagpippers playing in mass at the 2014 Tatoo

Pippers and Drums playing in mass at the 2014 Tatoo

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The crowd along the Royal Mile. [ The Royal Mile is the name given to a succession of streets forming the main thoroughfare of the Old Town.]

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What a fabulous evening under the stars high atop Edinburgh Castle hill. 

Edinburgh Castle silhouetted by a dramatic sunset. evening

Edinburgh Castle silhouetted by a dramatic sunset evening.   [ Source: http://www.edintattoo.co.uk/the-experience/edinburgh-castle ]

PHOTO CREDITS:

  1.  ROYAL EDINBURGH MILITARY TATTOO: edintattoo.co.uk
  2. ALL OTHER PHOTOS 1-6: Dan Leininger (copyright 2014)
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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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PHOTOS WANTED: Be a WEBSITE contributor

WE DESIRE YOUR DIGITAL PHOTOS of MacNeil's work! Here's some photo 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.
4. Please, include a photo of yourself and/or those with you standing beside the work.
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