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!

“Lincoln Lawyer” Hermon MacNeil’s sculpture bust of Abraham Lincoln. Pictured at its home for the last 91 years.

Since 2010, this website has become a gathering point for questions and information about Hermon Atkins MacNeil.

The most recent inquiry came from the “Land of Lincoln” about MacNeil’s Abraham Lincoln which depicts the young Illinois lawyer in his clean-shaven years riding the 8th Circuit of the Illinois Court.

Marian Fretueg wrote the following:

While I was doing some research I came across a 1928  Rushville Times of Rushville, Illinois newspaper article which told of a bust of Abraham Lincoln sculpted by Hermon A. MacNeil purchased by Albert Morris Bagby of New York City.  Mr. Bagby had the bust shipped to Rushville and was to be temporarily placed at the city’s library to be enjoyed by all the patrons.  Rushville, Illinois was Mr. Bagby’s hometown.  For some reason or other, the sculpture was never moved from our library and it now proudly on display in our new library.

After some research I could not find where this sculpture is mentioned anywhere, there was a bust of Abraham Lincoln at the University of Illinois at Champaign-Urbana.  Were you aware of this sculpture?  I am sure it is the real thing with his name and the bronze factory where it was made on the base of the sculpture. 

I have included a picture of the bust, the autograph of Mr. MacNeil’s and the stamp of the Roman Bronze Works.  There is also a copy of the accessions book where the bronze bust was given to the library in 1928.

It was so exciting when I was reading about Mr. Bagby’s gift and then reading about Mr. MacNeil and how famous he was.  I would love to hear from you and find out if you were aware of this bust.  

Thank you so much for your time.

Marian Fretueg

The distinctive signature of the artist on the back of the bust. LincolnRushvilleIL-4.jpg

LincolnRushvilleIL-4.jpg

Dear Marian Fretueg,

Thank you for your kind email and the lovely pictures of Rushville Public Library’s “Lincoln Lawyer” By Hermon Atkins MacNeil. I ask your permission to publicize this work as the Webmaster of HermonAtkinsMacNeil.com

I can tell you are a researcher, because you found my ‘digital museum’ dedicated to the life and work of Hermon A. MacNeil, or as my late mother called him, her “Uncle Hermon”

I would like to visit the Rushville Library to meet you and to photograph this piece for posting on my website. Your piece has its own history in Rushville as a “Land of Lincoln” community with a benefactor donating this beautiful monument to the prairie lawyer who rode the 8 Circuit that covers Rushville and much of Illinois.

To my knowledge eight (8) of these MacNeil Works were cast at Roman Bronze Works (RBW) in New York City. The Rushville piece would appear to be the 5th of the eight that I am able to locate with my website and help from researchers like yourself.  As the enclosed link tells the history, the original statue was a Standing Lincoln submitted in about 1924 for a contest of a commission which MacNeil did not win.  About 1928 he had 8 busts cast at RBW using the original Standing Lincoln as his model.  Lorado Taft loved the piece and recommended it to the University of Illinois to grace the marble foyer of Lincoln Hall at the university. The Hall was remodeled about 2010. I have humorous stories in the link below that tell how the Lincoln Lawyer bust was “locked-up” for safe keeping during the 1 year of reconstruction. It was also “kidnapped” by students at one point in the university’s history. 

I have 11 different stories (postings) that come up in a search of “Lincoln Lawyer” as I call this piece of MacNeil work. There are 2 pages that come up on this brief search. Click below to see the articles in the search: 

https://hermonatkinsmacneil.com/?s=lincoln+lawyer

Thus began our discussion on this recent discovery.

Thanks to Marian Fretueg and Rushville Public Library, photos of another “Lincoln Lawyer” by Hermon MacNeil has been added to the website.

This accounts for five of the eight castings made at Roman Bronze Works in 1928.

STAY TUNED FOR MORE OF THE STORY of Rushville’s Lincoln to be posted later.

Roman Bronze Works of New York City was a casting foundary that made thousands of bronze statues on the 19th and 20th centuries

Roman Bronze Works (RBW) of New York City was a casting foundry that made thousands of bronze statues on the 19th and 20th centuries

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Nice Packard! Nice Monument. 

We have purchased a rare period photograph of a historic Packard automobile which includes some of MacNeil’s public work in Philadelphia.  This monument was introduced earlier on this site.  [CLICK HERE]. (The Packard was not.)

The exact Packard model pictured here will be identified later. It appears to be from the 1928-1933 era. (Probably a  1929 Model 640 RunaboutSixth Series)

In 1927 Hermon A. MacNeil sculpted the Philadelphia Soldiers and Sailors Monument that graces the Ben Franklin Parkway.

The Parkway way design was inspired by the Champs-Élysées in Paris, France with its Arc De Triomphe.  It commemorated many centuries of French military victories.

Philadelphia chose two grand pylons 60 feet tall rather than an Arch. It was to be Philadelphia’s version of a “grand avenue of heroes” leading out to the Philadelphia Art Museum. 

On these limestone pylons, Hermon A. MacNeil carved two Civil War monuments: one to the Soldiers and the second to the Sailor’s of the Civil War. After sixty (60) years, only a few of those who fought were still alive in 1927. This Monument was a tribute to their sacrifice and the “One Union” for which they fought. 

Philadelphia’s pride in that history is attributed in the following video celebration.

The Soldiers side of the monument is pictured more often than this Sailor’s side view.

Webmaster, Dan Leininger is a Packard owner and fanatic who possesses a less rare Packard. An older restoration of a 1941 Packard Clipper, the first of the Clipper line.

"Clipper Jack!" Dan's 1941 Packard Clipper as it appears 78 years after rolling out of the Detroit Packard Plant. later

“Clipper Jack!” Dan’s 1941 Packard Clipper as it appears 78 years after rolling out of the Detroit Packard Plant. Click  HERE for my “Hillbilly Packard Brothers” project blog on Packard Info.com 

 

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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.]

 

I never met Hermon MacNeil.

I never met my maternal grandfather, Tom Henry McNeil.  

ALL OF LIFE and our family histories are filled with people we HAVE NEVER MET.

In 2014 I wrote an article for the MacNeil Clan Magazine,

The Galley.

I include the the pages and the text of that article below in this post:

The photos can also be viewed in this previous post. 

Hermon Atkins MacNeil – American Sculptor – (1866-1947)

MacNeil Clan history, like all family history, is filled with people we have never met.  One MacNeil who has always fascinated me is Hermon Atkins MacNeil.  Researching “Uncle” Hermon has also led me to another amazing man, Robert Lister MacNeil. Both men were present when the Clan MacNeil Association was formed ninety-three years ago. 

MacNeil kinsman.

On May 26, 1921, the Clan MacNeil Association of America was organized in New York City.  Central to that moment were Robert Lister MacNeil, (The MacNeil of Barra – 45th Chief of the Clan), and Hermon Atkins MacNeil, a sculptor, who served as the clan’s first president.  At that time, Robert Lister was 32 years of age, a practicing architect in New York City, and a veteran of the First World War. He had succeeded to the chiefship of the Clan MacNeil just six years earlier.  His dreams of the Isle of Barra and restoring Kisimul Castle (as told in his book The Castle in the Sea) were but faint hopes that would await decades and the efforts of many MacNeils for their accomplishment.

Dan “Neil” Leininger in a MacNeil kilt at Kisimul Castle, Isle of Barra, Scotland 2014. WHAT A TOUR it was!!!

His other kinsman was Hermon Atkins MacNeil. Hermon was the older of the two, an accomplished sculptor, also practicing in New York City, he had already created a myriad of statues, sculptures, monuments, as well as, the U.S. Standing Liberty Quarter first minted in 1916.  Although these two MacNeils were 23 years apart in age, they were both trained in Paris at the Ecole des Beaux Arts, a school for architects and sculptors in the Classic Greco-Roman styles.  A lasting bond between them formed through their shared artistic talents, professional skills, and years of Clan MacNeil activity.

Hermon MacNeil designed a bronze plaque that was unveiled and dedicated on May 28, 1928 on the campus of Flora MacDonald College in Red Springs, NC. The plaque commemorated the 1735 landing of Neil MacNeil of Jura, Scotland with 350 followers.  This group made up mostly of clan members landed at the Cape Fear Settlement in North Carolina. The plaque was placed on a red granite stone and marked another clan project shared by these two men.

In his later years, Robert Lister stated: “Hermon was an outstanding sculptor and one of my dearest friends all the rest of his life.”  In 1970, six years after publishing those words, Robert Lister MacNeil died at the age of 81.  Twenty-three years earlier (in 1947), Hermon Atkins MacNeil had died, also at the same age of 81.  All of the above was discovered as I “searched for Uncle Hermon.” I never met either of these two MacNeil men. The more I learn of them both, the more striking I find the parallels in their lives.

MacNeil roots. The third MacNeil man that I never met was my own grandfather, Tom Henry McNeil (1860-1932). Whenever my mother spoke of her father or of her “Uncle Hermon,” I would see a certain smile on her face and a sparkle in her eye.  Emotionally, recalling her McNeil memories seemed to take her to “a very pleasant place.” On the MacNeil family tree, her father and Hermon MacNeil were first cousins. But “Uncle Hermon” was what the whole family always called him and what he always considered himself to be. Though she did not share them often, my mother’s stories instilled in me a sense of “wonder” about these two “MacNeil” men. 

Genetically, my mother gave all of us six children her MacNeil biology, but when I first realized that my parents also gave me the middle name of “Neil,” I felt some extra portion of my Scottish ancestry. That feeling has only grown as I get older.  My grandfather McNeil died before I was born.  I was just two years old when Hermon MacNeil died.  Now as an old man myself this MacNeil heritage and my memories of the sparkle in mother’s eyes have expanded my interest in these three MacNeils, and in the many other MacNeils that I have yet to meet.

MacNeil pursuits. So I am pursuing my MacNeil Clan interests in several ways.  In 2010 I formally began searching for “Uncle Hermon” by building a “digital gallery” of the life and work as a sculptor. I built HermonAtkinsMacNeil.com, a website dedicated to making his sculpture and career available to the world. A web search of the name “Hermon MacNeil” will take you there.  His sculptures, statues, monuments are scattered from Washington, DC to Portland, Oregon, and from New York City to Gallup, New Mexico.  Now this virtual gallery features over 500 photos and 125 stories of Hermon MacNeil’s life and work.  There you can see his statues of George Washington from Washington Arch, NYC; Ezra Cornell at Cornell University, William McKinley at Columbus, Ohio; Abraham Lincoln at Champaign, Illinois; Pony Express at St. Joseph, Missouri; Pere Marquette in Chicago; and monuments in Philadelphia, Charleston, Albany, and Flushing, and dozens of other cities.

In 2013 I became a member of the Clan MacNeil Association of America.  I did not know its existence until I saw the 1928 news story of the MacNeil plaque dedication in Red Springs.  For the last three yearsI have shared “MacNeil stories” at our annual family reunion of my siblings and our children and grand children.  In August 2013 I went to my first Highland Festival. My nephew in Colorado  told me about the attended the Longs Peak Scottish Irish Highland Fest in Estes Park.  What a great celebration of Celtic pride and heritage.

Donna and I have booked our spots on the 2014 MacNeil Clan Tour of Scotland.  We reserved our passage before I received the Fall/Winter issue of The Galley with Rory MacNeil’s invitation to the World Gathering of the Clan MacNeil on the Isle of Barra from August 4-7, 2014.  We hope to meet some of you there this summer.

  1. I joined Clan MacNeil Association I have attended the 2013 Estes Park Highland Fest
  2. I have booked spots for Donna and I on the 2014 MacNeil Clan Tour of Scotland
  3. I continue to research HAM

TODAY marks the  153rd anniversary of the birth

of Hermon Atkins MacNeil

Hermon A. MacNeil Commemorative sketched by Artist Charles D. Daughtrey as the seventh work in his Series of Coin Designers is available at http://www.cdaughtrey.com/

AND THE 10th Year of my Search for “Uncle Hermon”
for whom this website is dedicated.

For a brief summary of his life and work click here for => A Brief Bio of Hermon Atkins MacNeil 

This website also is inspired by the memory of my mother, Ollie McNeil Leininger.

I remember my mother telling me about her “Uncle Hermon.” 

She handed me some Liberty Standing Quarters”  from her grocery change and showed me the little “M” at the left foot of Lady Liberty.

She showed me “The Sun Vow” statue in the Saint Louis Art Museum.  We also visited The Pony Express” statue in St. Joseph, Missouri.  I grew up with a sense of pride and quiet fascination with mom’s “Uncle Hermon” 

I never met “Uncle Hermon”

Hermon A. MacNeil died on October 2, 1947 at the age of 81 years, 7 months, and 8 days.  On the day that he died I was just two years-old.

To read the whole article, Click and open in a separate window

My own Mother died years later in the winter of 1985. At that time, I wrote:

With her passing a warm, safe feeling faded from my world. I was the “baby” of her six children. Her death ushered in feelings of being a midlife orphan who would soon turn forty. Darkness seemed to creep in from the far corners of my life. A strange fearful child inside of me said, “Who will take care of me now?”

 

As the years passed, I would think of mom, and occasionally, of her “Uncle Hermon.”

By the turn of the 2K millennium, computers and the internet had become household items.  This allowed people to hunt, find, and save data.  I found fascinating stories about Hermon Atkins MacNeil. Virtually anything from anywhere could be researched. 

In 2010, I met Dan DeBlock. He is a retired Army Chaplain and Lutheran Minister who builds websites for churches.  It started as a hobby interest and became Leiturgia Communications, Inc. The Host and Tech Support for this website.

One day I asked Dan DeBlock, “Could a website be built as virtual gallery of the sculpture of Hermon Atkins MacNeil?”

Nine years and 170 stories later, “HermonAtkinsMacNeil.com” is the answer to my question and Dan’s hosting.

In that year (2010), I seriously began my “Searching for Uncle Hermon.”

That journey continues.  This is story # 171 – A Birthday Present for Hermon Atkins MacNeil.

This Gallery celebrates Hermon Atkins MacNeil, American sculptor of the Beaux Arts School.

 

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

 

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
Hosting & Tech Support: Leiturgia Communications, Inc.
COME BACK & WATCH US GROW

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.
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