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 Black Pipe

BLACK PIPE in 14 stories  

 A never before seen or documented bronze piece from Hermon MacNeil’s earliest years as a sculptor has surfaced through a recent email message. The surprise came the other day to the website as a one line description and a surprising question.

“Black Pipe the Sioux” a small 6″ high, bas relief with the initials H M. 94.  
Can you tell me more about Black Pipe?”

Carol Miles

The request came from Massachusetts not far from where Hermon MacNeil was born and grew up in Chelsea (Everett, Malden). It included this photo:    

Thus began an email correspondence with Carol Miles that linked Hermon Atkins MacNeil (1866-1947) with Henry Turner Bailey (1865-1931).

Link #1: Henry Turner Bailey — Both Bailey and MacNeil graduated of Massachusetts Normal Art School. They were classmates for at least three years until MacNeil graduated in 1886 followed by Bailey in 1887. Both began studies there in their late teen years.

According to Carol: “Henry became the first Supervisor of Drawing for the State of Massachusetts, and later Dean of the Cleveland School of Art. Henry’s papers are housed at the Univ. of Oregon Archives, Eugene. There is correspondence between the two men there.”

Link #2: Black Pipe sculpture –This bas relief of Black Pipe was acquired by Henry Turner Bailey, the grandfather of the current owner. It has been handed down through the family ever since.

I have found no previous mention or photo of this piece. I have seen another photo of a different sculpture of Black Pipe by MacNeil in the Smithsonian Institute collections online

MacNeil’s bronze of Black Pipe, a Sioux warrior he befriended in 1893 (source Smithsonian Archives)

 

 

( http://collections.si.edu/search/results.htm?q=MacNeil&start=20 ).

The story of Black Pipe is told in dozens of stories on this site.  A search brings up 14 posts that can be viewed at this link.  Only six stories appear on each page. Be sure to view all three pages. 

BLACK PIPE link — BLACK PIPE in 14 STORIES

https://hermonatkinsmacneil.com/?s=Black+Pipe

:::::

The Smithsonian Collestions data base offers the following info on the photo of Black Pipe.   See:  [ http://collections.si.edu/search/results.htm?q=MacNeil&start=20 ]

The Soiux Brave Blackpipe [sculpture] / (photographed by A. B. Bogart) digital asset number 1
ARTIST:
MacNeil, Hermon Atkins 1866-1947
PHOTOGRAPHER:
Bogart, A. B.
TYPE:
Photograph
NOTES:
On photo mount label: H. A. MacNeil. Blackpipe the Soiux. Bogart. Classification number: 282. Accession: 4747[cropped].
TOPIC:
Ethnic–Sioux
Figure male–Head
IMAGE NUMBER:
SSC S0001642
SEE MORE ITEMS IN:
Photograph Archives
DATA SOURCE:
Archives and Special Collections, Smithsonian American Art Museum 

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My recent post about our December 3rd journey on the CTA Blue Line train to the Chicago Loop and the Art Institute of Chicago ended with a discussion of “The Sun Vow” and my photo array taken in the Sculpture Court.  [Searching for Uncle Hermon in Chicago ~ “The Sun Vow” ]

Another MacNeil piece just steps away in the adjoining American Gallery provides a “preface” to the story of “The Sun Vow”.

Modeled in 1894 that earlier piece was called “Vow of Vengeance.” It shows one of MacNeil’s early studies in Native American depiction.  It followed his exposure to the Chicago World Fair, his fascination with sketching the Indians in Buffalo Bill’s Wild West Show, and his modeling work with Black Pipe. (Black Pipe was a young Sioux who worked in Hermon’s studio and modeled for several pieces during 1893-94.  He helped with physical labor in the studio as well.  CLICK for MORE on Black Pipe and “Primitive Chant”) 

IMG_0697

MacNeil’s early study “Vow of Vengeance” that evolved into “The Sun Vow”. Art Institute of Chicago. [ Photo Credit: Dan Leininger, 2014 ]

Several pieces dated 1894 seemed to be early prototypes for later larger works and castings.  The “Vow of Vengeance” appears to be one of the more prominent.  I know of no other copies elsewhere.

A blog about the Art Institute observes some mingling of the identity of the two pieces:

The Vow of Vengeance -1894
By Hermon Atkins MacNeil.
What’s in a name?
Well, somehow I noticed a discrepancy in the name..
The Art Institute website calls it – The Vow of Vengeance [1894]
But marker at the Art Institute has the name – The Sun Vow [Modeled-1898, Cast-1901]. http://theartinstituteofchicago.blogspot.com/2010_12_01_archive.html.

 The Two “Vows” Compared  IMG_0698

While the “Vow of Vengeance” and “The Sun Vow” contain similar elements, what they communicate seems quite different:

  1. TITLE: The two titles carry contrasting emotional messages. The first (Vow of Vengeance) conveys negative aggression and hostile feeling toward some enemy, while the second (Sun Vow) depicts a more positive rite of passage from boyhood to manhood within a setting of family and tribal affirmation.
  2. GROUPING: The boy and the Elder (Warrior, Chief) are grouped to convey different emotional tones in the two pieces.  In “Vengeance,” the chief wears his war bonnet on his head. He is dressed to present tribal authority to the enemy. His face seems harsh and his posture stiff.  The Boy strains his head high up into the air.  Their grouping seems tense. IMG_0678In “Sun Vow” the two figures are closer and seem to be “more one.” The Chief has removed his bonnet so as to lean into the boy’s line of sight. The boy is also more grace-full. He looks to the arrow and the sun without straining.  Both gaze in the seeming wonder and mystical pleasure of the physical rite. 

1894 ~ Prototype Year:

In addition to the “Vow of Vengeance” we have found evidence of another prototype from 1894.

A previous posting tells James Dixon’s story of a MacNeil piece acquired by his Great-great grandmother, Edna Lord.  The sculpture bears the title  “Primitive Music” on its base.  [ CLICK Here for more ]

Photos on that previous post suggest that Edna Lord’s  “Primitive Indian Music” was an early prototype of the “Primitive Chant” (which was much more polished and finely surfaced)

It is also based on “Black Pipe”, the young Sioux Brave. MacNeil  first saw Black Pipe at the Buffalo Bills Wild West Show and we know that he returned many times to study the Indians.   Like MacNeil, I have return to this story of “Black Pipe”, the young Sioux Brave, numerous times, and perhaps, will return many more.  ~~  DNL

Hermon MacNeil ~ After the World’s Columbian Exposition

The period after the end of the 1893 Chicago World’s Fair was a lean, even dry time, financially for Hermon MacNeil. We do know that he continued to maintain a studio, sculpt models, teach at the Art Institute of Chicago, and associate with art colleagues and benefactors there. Yet, it seems a productive time of transition, expression, and experimentation for the as the young sculptor.

Traveling to the Art Museum, we walked out of the underground on Dearborn Street just a block south of the Marquette Building which is home to Hermon MacNeil’s 1895 sculptures of 4 bronze relief panels [Cick Here]. This commission marked his recognition and selection for the award of the Rinehart Roman Scholarship.  This began 3 years in Rome and another in Paris for he and his young bride, Carol Brooks. The bronze reliefs stands today as an icon to Marquette and his life among the Native peoples. The building has been restored by the MacArthur Foundation and now houses their international headquarters.

Those works tell the story Father Marquette explorations to Native peoples of Illinois. MacNeil would return to Chicago and the Marquette themes three decades later as he sculpted the bronze grouping [CLICK HERE] of Pere Marquette, Louis Jolliete, and an Illinois Indian on Marshall Boulevard.  Commissioned by the Benjamin Franklin Ferguson  Monument Fund, this sculpture has faced the greenway of the boulevard for 88 years.

Our trip was a satisfying success as our daughter took our pictures at hefoot of the Monument.

Our trip was a satisfying success as our daughter took our pictures at hefoot of the Monument.

Following-up the previous post of April 23, 2013, I offer this fascinating link to a great lecture on the colorful legend of the Pony ExpressAuthor Christopher Corbett  [ CLICK HERE ] spoke about his bookOrphans Preferred: The Twisted Truth and Lasting Legend of the Pony ExpressHis 54 minute YouTube video shares humorous stories of Buffalo Bill, Pony Express, and research findings.   The presentation includes questions from the audience, as well.  

The Pony Express at St Joseph, Missouri.  Dan Leininger, webmaster, has visited it many times as a small boy. Now it is part of his ongoing  research on Hermon MacNeil.

The Pony Express at St Joseph, Missouri. Dan Leininger, webmaster, has visited it many times as a small boy. Now it is part of his ongoing research on Hermon MacNeil.

Hermon MacNeil’s last sculpture was the Pony Express Rider erected in 1940 in Saint Joseph, Missouri.  A skit of the Pony Express was a feature of every show given by Buffalo Bill Cody.  We can thank Buffalo Bill for infecting American History with the Pony Express legend.  He even infected world history with images of the Pony Express.   Hermon MacNeil became captivated by the images of the Native American Indians (Black Pipe and others) in head.  He was first introduced to those visions in Buffalo Bill’s Wild West Show outside of the front gates of the 1893 Chicago World’s Fair. After this MacNeil traveled to the Southwestern United States. That experience affected him profoundly.  From then on, he produced sculptures and returned to those images of Native Americans and Indian themes throughout his life. 

In 1890 Buffalo Bill rode his troop around Vatican City for the PopeI never rode with the Pony Express, and neither did Buffalo Bill, though he was the right age to do it in 1860 (He did ride as a courier as a very young boy). However, I almost got a Pony Express ornament for my 1939 LaSalle in 2012 (see below). The statue is MacNeil’s. The LaSalle is mine. (The trailer belongs to Chris Carlsen.)  The location is Saint Joseph, Missouri.  Enough foolishness, already.  Below are more Pony Express images from St. Joe.

PonyLasBELOW IS MORE OF THE LEGEND AS CAPTURED BY HERMON ATKINS MACNEIL

IMG_1082

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

Details of the mail bags as MacNeil modeled them after Dr. S. Mededith Strong’s authentic Pony express gear, spurs, saddle, mail bags, from the 1930’s.

 

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

Eda Lord, (the woman who purchased the MacNeil bronze statue, “Primitive Indian Music” ~ 1894), attended the World’s Columbian Exposition on “Chicago Day.”  Jim Dixon sent us a scan of his great-grandmother’s actual Ticket to the Chicago World’s Fair.

Eda Lord was not alone.  Chicago Day was packed. A total of 716,881 people attended for “Chicago Day,” October 9, 1893.  That day commemorated the anniversary of the Great Chicago Fire of 1871.  The ‘Chicago Day’ marked Chicago’s rebirth. 

Every day of the Chicago World’s Fair marked the city’s arrival on the world-scene. While New York City, Washington, D.C., and St.Louis, had all competed for this ‘Columbian’ 400-year-extravaganza, Chicago won the honors (and labors). The CWE invited America to come take notice that this western-railroad-cattletown was now a cultural-financial center.  Like Columbus himself, the European “Old World” of art and architecture had crossed the Atlantic Ocean and resurrected in this “New World” of American progress, industry, and prosperity.   Now along the shore of this inland Great Lake a “White City” fantasy had emerged.  Crafted from the hands, talents, and imaginations  of American “Beaux Arts” artists, sculptors and architects.

"Chicago Day" Crowds -- October 9, 1893 -- 716,881 people attended that day which commemorated the anniversary of the Great Chicago Fire of 1871. (http://www.chicagohs.org/history/expo.html)

And like Eda Lord, from all over the United States, Canada, South America, Europe, Asia and the world, they came. In total, over 27,000,000 million people attended the entire 1893 Columbia International Exposition.  That number was half of the US population of 54 million then. 

I told Jim Dixon that just seeing his Great-Grandmother Eda’s ticket made me wonder:

  1. How old was Eda Lord when she attended the Fair?
  2. Who would she go with?
  3. Would a lady attend alone?
  4. She lived in Evanston, north of the city. She could have rode the train from there in less than an hour into the “White City”.
  5. She might have passed the “Buffalo Bill Wild West Show” on her way to the main Gate.

Here is what Jim told us about the ticket:

Daniel –

I started pouring through the boxes of family history tonight.  I have a long way to go, but I found something that is perhaps a clue.  Of all things, Eda Lord saved a ticket stub from the World’s Columbian Exposition for “Chicago Day” on Oct 9th  1893.  The ticket is numbered and obviously a part was torn off.  It is in perfect shape.   Attached is a scan of the ticket.  Much more exploring to do and I will send along anything relevant that I find.

Jim Dixon

Well Jim, You have quite a find!  That is a valuable souvenir. And a family history keepsake.

HERMON ATKINS MACNEIL:

Hermon MacNeil was there as well.  For three years he worked on drawings, plans and sculpture. 

"Primitive Indian Music" Hermon A. MacNeil 1894, 24 inches, bronze. Purchased by Eda Lord about 1894-5.

MacNeil sculpted figures on the Electricity building (MORE HERE). He was only 27 years old then. He had returned from study in Paris from about 1888 – 1890. He came to Chicago to work with Phillip Martiny.  Some say he stopped in New York to get a letter of recommendation from August Saint-Gaudens to give to Martiny in Chicago. 

A hundred or more artists sculpted the White City.  Many would be MacNeil’s contemporaries and colleagues through his life. Carol Brooks, who Hermon MacNeil would marry two years later, was also one of the women sculptors called in at the last months to finish the plaster-staff statues that adorned the Fair. (Carol  had studied sculpture with both Lorado Taft and Frederick William MacMonnies) Carol was also a member of “The White Rabbits” ~ a self-christened group of women sculptors called in to complete the massive work load of ‘staff’ statues needed for the Chicago Fair in 1893. ).
Also to see my post CLICK HERE (look for their ‘Marriage’ paragraph.)

HERE ARE CLOSE-UP PHOTOS THAT SUGGEST THAT THIS “Primitive Indian Music” PIECE WAS AN EARLY PROTO-TYPE OF THE “PRIMITIVE CHANT” STATUE (WHICH WAS MUCH MORE REFINED AND POLISHED IN ITS CASTING FINISH.)

It is also based on “Black Pipe”, the young Sioux Brave. MacNeil first saw Black Pipe at the Buffalo Bills Wild West Show and we know that he returned many times to study the Indians.  ( I have ordered two books on Buffalo Bills Wild West Show, the Indians, conditions, treatment etc.) 

We will return to the story of “Black Pipe”, the young Sioux Brave.  Perhaps, like MacNeil, we will return many times.  ~~  DNL

Facial roughness of "Primitive Indian Music" bronze cast from 1894 suggests it is an early MacNeil attempt. His 1901 casts of "Primitive Chant" are more polished.

Sculpting marks on thigh and hip of 1894 "Primitive Indian Music" bronze cast suggest it is an early MacNeil attempt. His 1901 casts of "Primitive Chant" are more polished.

"Primitive Indian Music" - A rare 1894 bronze casting of a sculpture later refined and cast in multiple copies as the "Primitive Chant to the great Spirit."

A recent inquiry from James Dixon has revealed a previously unseen 1894 bronze casting entitled “Primitive Indian Music.” The piece appears to be an early (or earliest) proto-type of  “The Primitive Chant to the Great Spirit” by Hermon A. MacNeil dated 1901.  

MacNeil marked this earlier piece on the base in block letters. He signed it simply “MACNEIL Sc”

It is dated [ ’94 ] similar to the Marquette Building panels of 1895, some of which are dated [ ’95]. SEE detail below: 

"MACNEiL 95" reads this signature on Panel 3 of Marquette Building, Chicago. (Detail from lower right corner - Note; mocassin foot in showshoe above signature.)

This ‘Dixon’ piece is marked like no other bronzes of the “Primitive Chant.” All others are dated 1901.  Jim tells us that his great grandmother, Eda Lord, lived in Evanston, Illinois, and purchased the statue between 1890 and 1900.

Jim Dixon knows this, because the sculpture has been in his family for four generations.  He found our website seeking more information on his family’s MacNeil art piece. Here’s how Jim shares his family’s story:

My Great Grandmother, Eda Lord, purchased a MacNeil sculpture in the late 1800’s when she lived in Evanston, Illinois. The sculpture made its way down the family tree to my Grandmother and then to my mom and dad and it was passed on to me when my mom passed away last year. The statue is of an Indian boy and is about 24″ tall (bronze) It is labeled “Primitive Indian Music MacNeil s: ’94” My review of the works of MacNeil pointed to the sculpture entitled “A primitive chant to the Great Spirit” at the Smithsonian Museum. My observation of the photo of “A primitive Chant…” lead me to believe that the two sculptures are the same. It this possible? Were multiple casting made of these statues? Was it common to re-cast the statue at a later time? I would be happy to send digital photos of the sculpture for your records, review and comments. Any further information you may have on this statue would be appreciated.

Thank you for your time and assistance.

James Dixon

The partial title "PRIMITIVE IND..." is visible here

Hers is partial title "Indian Music" and "MACNEIL Sc" with date " '94"

This photo of  markings on the piece read “PRIMITIVE…” and the next photo continues “INDIAN MUSIC”. The  signature bears no initials, only the full last name, “MACNEIL Sc”. Additional marks include a date [ ‘ 94 ]. These markings are consistent with MacNeil’s pre-1900 dates on the Marquette Panels — last name only with no initials. The block letter ( MACNEIL ) is “identical to Panel #3 of the Marquette Building.  In addition, consider the following:

  1. No foundry marks appear on this Dixon Family heirloom.
  2. More importantly no RBW (Roman Bronze Works) initials or name appears on the casting.  Roman Bronze Works is where most museum pieces of this work were cast.  They also bear the date of 1901.  RBW opened its doors in 1900 the same time that Hermon MacNeil settled in College Point, Queens, NYC, New York.
  3. The absence of RBW’s distinguishing mark, as found on the 1901 casts, and the Dixon family story of acquisition would seem to indicate a date before 1900 for the casting of this piece.
  4. The story of Hermon MacNeil and his hiring of Black Pipe (see previous post dated April 25, 2012) as a studio assistant and model are consistent with an 1894 dating of this piece.  In this conversation with J Walker McSpadden in 1924, MacNeil recalled the events:
    • MACNEIL: “Yes, and you may find it an interesting yarn. Buffalo Bill’s Wild West Show had been in Chicago during the Fair, and one of his braves was Black Pipe, a Sioux, a fine-looking fellow. He had stayed behind, and one day I met him on the streets, looking hungry and cold, and asked him if he wanted something to do. He did there was no doubt about that. I took him into the studio, fed him up, and then set to work modeling his head. I finished it in four hours, for I was not sure that I would ever see my Indian again; but he stayed with me in all for a year and a half, helping me with odd jobs about the studio. That’s his head there.”
    • It was a life-size bronze, which he indicated, not done in full relief but resting on a plaque a strong piece of portraiture.
    • MCSPADDEN: “In this and your later work with Indians,” I inquired, “did you have any trouble about making their likenesses? Some of them object to being photographed.”
    • MACNEIL: “Yes, many of the older Indians object; they think it takes the spirit out of them. But Black Pipe had been among white folks long enough to know better, and with others I managed to get around their superstitions. Black Pipe, by the way, posed for ‘The [312] Primitive Chant 5 which is one of my best-known Indian subjects.”
    • This is the spirited figure of a naked savage dancing to the music of his own flute. It has been widely copied in art prints.  [ Source: Joseph Walker McSpadden, Famous Sculptors of America, (New York: Dodd, Mead and Company, 1924) pp. 311-12. ]
  5. This figure also appears to also be based on Black Pipe.  CLICK HERE for more on MacNeil and Black Pipe
  6. The only other evidence of a MacNeil Bronze from this period (1894) is “the Vow to Vengeance” in the Art Institute of Chicago which lists a date marking on 1894 as well.   SEE AIC Website HERE.

Many old photos of ‘plaster casts’ of this sculpture appear in museum archives.  This ‘Dixon’ bronze appears to be a very different find than other models, either plaster or bronze. 

WEBMASTER’S COMMENTS:

  1. Thanks Jim for the photos and inquiry.
  2. This seems a VERY early bronze casting from MacNeil’s 1893-1895 days at the Art Institute of Chicago (1893-1895).
  3. I have seen Plaster sculptures from this period but not Bronze casts. Perhaps, MacNeil was venturing (experimenting) into bronze castings. Another bronze from 1894 is this “Vow to Vengeance” which was an early version of the later “Sun Vow”  [ SEE Art Institute of Chicago holdings: CLICK HERE ]
  4. This “Primitive Indian Music” seems an early version of his “Primitive Chant to the Great Spirit.” of 1901. Your piece seems to be a ‘first’ to me. Spelled RARE. There maybe others, but they are not in museum archives, or accessible on-line. I certainly have not seen them.

  5. All other bronze casts I have seen photos of date after 1900. This includes “Primitive Chant” from museums and auction house photos. All those have RBW initials from NYC -Roman Bronze Works.
  6. The work seems much less finished (polished).  It appears rougher in texture (more primitive? early?). Not only Primitive Indian…, but also maybe Primitive MacNeil… ?

CONCLUSION (for now): This is a fascinating piece that seems to this non-curator-MacNeil-enthusiast to be one of Hermon’s earliest concepts of what he later cast as “Primitive Chant to the Great Spirit” in 1901. 

That piece was cast by Roman Bronze Works when MacNeil settled there in his studio-home in College Point NYC.

NEXT: “Who was Eda Lord? And How did she become owner of this early MacNeil sculpture?

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.

"Primitive Chant to the Great Spirit" photo of plaster model from MacNeil's Studio. (Credit: Photo Archives Smithsonian American Art Museum)

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 Achieveshttp://siris-juleyphoto.si.edu/ipac20/ipac.jsp?&profile=all&source=~!sijuleyphotos&uri=full=3100001~!128333~!0 )

 

MacNeil's bronze of Blackpipe, a Sioux warrior he befriended in 1893 (source Smithsonian Archives)

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.

Larado Taft's words describe this kneeling pose of "The Primitive Chant." The 'upright-dancing-warrior' is a more commonly seen version of MacNeil's work.

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.)

According to the Smithsonian Institute:

Hermon A. MacNeil
A Primitive Chant to the Great Spirit
modeled by 1901
bronze
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

http://americanart.si.edu/exhibitions/online/t2go/1lw/index-noframe.html?/exhibitions/online/t2go/1lw/1996.27.html

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.

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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.
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