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 Cass Gilbert

SuprCtEastPedMosesConfSolonHeader

CONFUCIUS ~ MOSES ~ SOLON center on MacNeil’s East Pediment

The East Pediment of the Supreme Court of the United States designed and sculpted by Hermon A. MacNeil contains the likenesses of three Lawgivers from the history of  civilization: Moses, Confucius, and Solon. According to the Office of the Curator in a public INFORMATION SHEET:

“Visitors often miss the East Pediment of the Supreme Court Building because it is located at the rear of the building. This sculptural group was designed by Hermon A. MacNeil (1866 – 1947), an artist who studied under the masters of classical architecture and design. Cass Gilbert (1867 – 1934), the building’s architect, worked closely with MacNeil from 1932 to 1934 to create the thirteen symmetrically balanced allegorical figures. MacNeil submitted the following description of his work to the Supreme Court Building Commission:”

“Law as an element of civilization was normally and naturally derived or inherited in this country from former civilizations. The “Eastern Pediment” of the Supreme Court Building suggests therefore the treatment of such fundamental laws and precepts as are derived from the East.

  • Moses, Confucius and Solon are chosen as representing three great civilizations and form the central group of this Pediment.
  • Flanking this central group – left – is the symbolical figure bearing the means of enforcing the law. On the right a group tempering justice with mercy, allegorically treated. The “Youth” is brought into both these groups to suggest the “Carrying on” of civilization through the knowledge imbibed of right and wrong.

The next two figures with shields;

  • Left – The settlement of disputes between states through enlightened judgment.
  • Right – Maritime and other large functions of the Supreme Court in protection of the United States.

The last figures:

May 16, 1932 Note regarding the East Pediment Inscription The text, in the hand of Charles Evans Hughes, reads, I rather prefer “Justice the Guardian of Liberty”

The inscription on the East Pediment – Justice the Guardian of Liberty – is one of the few decisions regarding the architecture of the building that was made directly by one of the Justices. On May 2,1932, David Lynn, the Architect of the Capitol, sent Chief Justice Charles Evans Hughes a letter with Cass Gilbert’s suggestions for the East and West Pediment inscriptions. The Chief Justice agreed with the suggested inscription for the West Pediment, Equal Justice Under Law, but did not like the one proposed for the East Pediment, Equal Justice is the Foundation of Liberty. Chief Justice Hughes sent a note (below) with a suggestion for a different inscription to Justice Willis Van Devanter, the only Justice beside Hughes and his predecessor, Chief Justice William Howard Taft, to serve on the Supreme Court Building Commission. Justice Van Devanter responded with a succinct reply: “Good (W.V.)” A few days later, the Chief Justice formally answered Lynn’s request by providing the alternate inscription, stating simply “We think that the inscription for the East Portico can be improved.”

The May 16, 1932 Note regarding the East Pediment Inscription written in the hand of Charles Evans Hughes, reads, I rather prefer “Justice the Guardian of Liberty”

The East Pediment by Hermon A. MacNeil – Office of the Curator • Supreme Court of the United States

Source: Office of the Curator, Supreme Court of the United States – Updated: 5/22/2003

For additional critical discussion on the Supreme Court Building sculptures related to Moses as a law giver see:

http://www.snopes.com/politics/religion/capital.asp

Visit the HA MacNeil‘s “Justice The Guardian of Liberty” at the East Pediment of the Supreme Court Building in Washington, D.C. [mappress]

On a recent trip to Saint Louis, Missouri to visit family, I was met by not by “Louis” but by “Hermon”

For the last 106 years (since the Worlds Fair inspired the song “Meet Me in St. Louis, Louis”) a sculpture by Hermon A. MacNeil has been quietly greeting visitors at the front door of the St Louis Art Museum. The piece resides high above the center doors at the main entrance of the building.

"ARS ARTIUM OMNIUM" is a MacNeil creation for the 1904 St Louis Worlds Fair

Saint Louis Art Museum main entrance. The MacNeil sculpture rests above the center doors recessed between the center columns.

The building itself represents one of MacNeil’s first collaborations of with renowned architect, Cass Gilbert.  His last project with Cass Gilbert was the US Supreme Court Building in 1933.

The Cass Gibert Society website offers images of his lifetime of architectural achievements.

The Saint Louis World’s Fair of 1904 was formally known as the Louisiana Purchase Exposition.   It was an international exposition commemorating the Louisiana purchase of 1803.  It was delayed from a planned opening in 1903 to 1904 to allow for the full-scale participation by more states and foreign countries. The song, “Meet Me in St. Louis, Louis” was inspired by the 1904 St. Louis Worlds Fair.

The Palace of Fine Art, designed by architect Cass Gilbert, featured a grand interior sculpture court based on the Roman Baths of Caracalla. Standing at the top of Art Hill, it now serves as the home of the Saint Louis Art Museum.  … Gilbert was also responsible for … (Saint Louis Public Library), state capitol buildings (the Minnesota, Arkansas and West Virginia State Capitols, for example) as well as public architectural icons like the United States Supreme Court building. His public buildings in the Beaux Arts style reflect the optimistic American sense that the nation was heir to Greek democracy, (Wikipedia).

The MacNeil work was a part of that “Palace of Fine Art” and his abilities in the Beaux Arts style seemed to seal his collaborative link to many projects grown from Cass Gilbert’s genius.  The inscription “ARS ARTIUM OMNIUM” translates literally from the Latin as “the Art of all Arts.”

Above the columns of the Saint Louis Art Museum are inscribed the words, “DEDICATED TO ART AND FREE TO ALL – MDCDIII.”  That Free to All spirit remains today in that admission is free through a subsidy from the ZMD.

A New York Times article offers editorial on “free art” http://www.nytimes.com/2006/07/22/arts/design/22admi.html?_r=1

The SLAM is one of the principal U.S. art museums, visited by up to a half million people every year.  MacNeil’s art is among some of the first to silently greet them.

The Art Museum at Forest Park in Saint. Louis, Missouri at night. on 27 September 2008. (credit: Kitz000 - Matt Kitces at Wikipedia Commons ) http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:StLouisArtMuseum.jpg

[mappress]

Hermon MacNeil has taken the Tortoise and the Hare to the Supreme Court.

There is a rabbit and a turtle at the Supreme Court! No this is not some legal joke.  Not an insult of the U.S. Justice system. This is a concrete truth. Actually, it is a truth in marble.  Not only did he take this ‘Fabled pair’ all the way to the Supreme Court, he left them there. So, inconspicuously for the last 78 years the whimsy of Hermon Atkins MacNeil has been hidden in plain sight, high on the back side of the highest court of the land.  These two marble carvings represent the smallest pair of groupings in his work, “Justice the Guardian of Liberty” are nearly invisible in the corners below.

HARE ON LEFT<< East Pediment-Supreme Court Building - >>TORTOISE ON RIGHT

MacNeil's 'Hare' springs from the south corner of his east pediment sculpture

MacNeil's 'Tortoise' on the north corner of sculpture

Like Aesop’s fable, perhaps the moral of MacNeil’s sculpture may be “Slow but steady wins the race.” Of course, the figurines offer MacNeil’s reference to Aesop’s Fable of the “The Hare and theTortoise.” A Hare one day ridiculed the short feet and slow pace of the Tortoise. The latter, laughing, said: “Though you be swift as the wind, I will beat you in a race.” The Hare, deeming her assertion to be simply impossible, assented to the proposal; and they agreed that the Fox should choose the course, and fix the goal. On the day appointed for the race they started together. The Tortoise never for a moment stopped, but went on with a slow but steady pace straight to the end of the course. The Hare, trusting to his native swiftness, cared little about the race, and lying down by the wayside, fell fast asleep. At last waking up, and moving as fast as he could, he saw the Tortoise had reached the goal, and was comfortably dozing after her fatigue. [George Fyler Townsend, Three Hundred Æesop’s Fables: Literally Translated from the Greek (London: George Routledge and Sons, 1867), pp. 19-20.] SeeWikipedia

Conceived in the early 1930’s after another economic crisis, MacNeil filled the sculpture with hundreds of serious allegorical references and illusions (more about these in later posts).   The figure of Confucius (to the left of the centered Moses) caused more public comment.

MacNeil worked with Cass Gilbert, the architect for the US Supreme Court Building project, who gave his artists interpretive license in designing their works.

Architect Cass Gilbert was charged by Chief Justice Taft to design “a building of dignity and importance suitable for its use as the permanent home of the Supreme Court of the United States.” (InfoPlease)

The complementary pediment on the east side of the building bears an inscription devised by Chief Justice Hughes: “Justice, the Guardian of Liberty.” In his frieze sculptor Herman A. MacNeil pays tribute to the civilizing effects of legal authority. A trio of ancient lawgivers—Moses, flanked by Confucius and Solon—occupies the center of the panel, which otherwise features allegorical figures intended to symbolize beneficent aspects of judicial dispute resolution. (Answers.com)

None of the thirteen figures on MacNeil’s east pediment grouping, however, are quite as gentle and amusing as the turtle and bunny that bracket the piece.

So, Thanks for the memories Uncle Hermon!  😉

The Supreme Court as it appeared in 1935 complete with vintage automobiles. The East Pediment was on the reverse side to these front steps. Behind MacNeil's East pediment sculptures is the office of the Chief Justice. Source: Wikipedia

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:SupremeCourt-1935.jpg

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