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 Chicago Downtown

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.

In the early 1900s, because of his knowledge and authorship on American Sculpture, Lorado Taft was referred to by many as ‘the Dean of American Sculpture.’   He offered early praise for Hermon Atkins MacNeil.  His admiration of MacNeil’s work continued into the 1920s when he recommended MacNeil’s “Lawyer Lincoln” bust to the University Of Illinois to grace the spiral entry foyer of Lincoln Hall.

In Chapter XXIII of his volume “THE HISTORY OF AMERICAN SCULPTURE” (originally published in 1903), Taft offers the following praise of the young MacNeil:

THE YOUNGER GENERATION IN NEW YORK

 The opening twentieth century brings before us a group of young sculptors equipped by nature and by training as in the past few Americans have been. …

One of the most promising of this number is Hermon A. MacNeil.

Marquette Panel #4 (detail)

Well equipped with the training which the Parisian studios give, Mr. MacNeil was early discontented with the banality of modern sculptural themes. The makeshift subjects of his comrades seemed to him unworthy. He wanted to do things more original and more truly expressive. Western life and the Indian had for him a great appeal, and he made several trips to the redman’s reservations north and west, in order to study what he considered the most sculptural motifs which America offers.

His reliefs over the doors of the Marquette building in Chicago — scenes of the life and death [ p. 437 > p. 438 ] of Pere Marquette — show to what good use he put his material. He was wont to talk of the artistic possibilities of the Indian in sculpture with an enthusiasm that was eloquent if not always convincing. To him they were as fine as Greek warriors and as worthy to be immortalized. …

More of Taft’s critique on H. A. MacNeil will be offered in upcoming postings on HermonAtkinsMacNeil.com.

 

"Hermon Atkins MacNeil" in studio smock. A portrait by Milton Herbert Bancroft

In December 1895, 

"The de Profundus was intoned ..." (detail from right side of Panel 4).

  • Hermon Atkins MacNeil’s four bas relief panels depicting the life of Fr. Pére Marquette were put in place on the new Marquette Building in Chicago.
  • He received word that he had been awarded the Rinehart Prize for study in Rome.
  • On Christmas Day he married Carol Louise Brooks, a sculptor herself, who studied with MacNeil and shared many of the same colleagues.

    Carol Brooks MacNeil - 1907 - Twelve years after her marriage to Hermon

  • On New Years Day, or there about, they sailed for Rome and what would become 3 years of further study there, then going to Paris for a fourth year and exhibiting at the Exposition Universelle of 1900.

While we can imagine Hermon Atkins MacNeil’s state of mind in December 1895 to be quite elated, we have actual historical reference on MacNeil’s mood written by Amy Aldis Bradley, another artist friend who completed art for the Marquette project.

Amy Aldis Bradley wrote in 1895 to Peter Brooks, developer for the new Marquette Building in Chicago and employer of her father, stating the following: 

  “McNeil’s [sic] panels are being placed in position. It is greatly to their and his credit that these bas-reliefs have won for him the Roman [Rinehart] Fellowship. The Commission, choosing him as the best of the very young men…The young sculptor was married on Christmas Day, and sailed for Rome on Wednesday, and is, on the whole, the most happy young man I know. He is very grateful to the owners of the Marquette Building.  (Based of information from the MacArthur Foundation, current owner and curator of the Marquette Building, cited at their website: (http://marquette.macfound.org/slide/herman-macneil/ )

Marriage License of Hermon Atkins MacNeil and Carol Louise Brooks issued on December 24th, 1895 and completed on Christmas Day 1895 by Rev. Edward F. Williams, Congregational Minister.

Hermon and Carol obtained a marriage license on Christmas Eve Day (Dec. 24th).  They were married on Christmas Day.  The dates seem to imply that they had a wedding ‘not long in the planning.’

Christmas Day in 1895, fell on a Wednesday. The following Wednesday, of course, was New Years Day. We do not have other confirmation that they sailed on New Years Day for France, but it seems to be consistent with plans to go to Rome quickly. The article below was written on December 19th, then published on December 22, 1895 in the NY Sun.  The reporter states that MacNeil would like to leave for Rome in about a week.  That is consistent with the other evidence.

We know that MacNeil inquired of the  Rinehart Committee if he could still fulfill the Rinehart Award conditions if he was a married man. They suggested that it would be a one year award under those conditions.  As it turned out he was given three years.  We do not know if he their fourth year spent in Paris was at their own expense or financed on their own.

The full text of the December 22, 1895 article that appeared in the New York Sun is posted below. In it the reporter states:

“When found in his studio yesterday, the young sculptor was busily at work on a crude mass of clay, from which were gradually emerging the features and forms of a Pueblo Indian. He was surrounded by a miscellaneous assortment of tools, plaster, and casts.  He left his work to discuss his good fortune.”

Here is is in its entirety. Enjoy!

December 22, 1895 – New York Sun, (CLICK HERE) see columns 5 and 6

New York Sun December 22, 1895 "The Rinehart Prize Winner ~ Hermon Atkins MacNeil of Chicago"

1895
Hermon Atkins MacNeil, American Sculptor (1866-1947)

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

December of 1895 was an exciting time in the life of Hermon A. MacNeil — A time when he was described as “the most happy young man I know.”

Chicago. In fact, 1985, in general, had been a productive year for the sculptor.  Following the 1893 Chicago World’s Fair, times had been tough for both artists and Fair workers.   MacNeil had found Black Pipe, (the Sioux from Buffalo Bill’s Wild West Show), cold and hungry on the streets of Chicago.  He took him in as studio help and a model for future sculptures. 

Marquette.  During 1895, Hermon had completed the four bronze panels depicting the life of Fr. Jacques (Père) Marquette.  They were put in place over the four entry doors of the Marquette Building (CLICK HERE) where he and his artist friend, Charles F. Browne, shared a studio. 


Panel 4 – “The de Profundis was intoned ..

According to information from the MacArthur Foundation (current owner and curator of the Marquette Building), Amy Aldis Bradley wrote in 1895 to Peter Brooks:

After commissioning MacNeil for the exterior bronzes, Aldis wrote to Peter Brooks, “McNeil’s [sic] panels are being placed in position. It is greatly to their and his credit that these bas-reliefs have won for him the Roman [Reinhart] Fellowship. The Commission, choosing him as the best of the very young men…The young sculptor was married on Christmas Day, and sailed for Rome on Wednesday, and is, on the whole, the most happy young man I know. He is very grateful to the owners of the Marquette Building.” (http://marquette.macfound.org/slide/herman-macneil/ )

 Rinehart Prize. In December,  he received news that he had been named as recipient of the Rinehart Roman Scholarship for study in Rome.  Newspapers such as the Nov. 25, 1895 Chicago Tribune (CLICK HERE), and the Dec. 22, 1895 -New York Sun, (CLICK HERE) (columns 5 & 6), contained the news of the selection of this 29 year-old western artist to receive the Prix Rome.

H.A.MacNeil ~1895 sketch - Chicago-Sun
H.A.MacNeil ~1895 sketch – The Sun (New York City)

The sculptors on the committee that selected MacNeil for the  award were the ‘giants’ among American sculptors of the 19th century. As mentioned in the above newspapers, the Rinehart Roman committee included Augustus Saint Gaudens, John Quincy Adams Ward, and Daniel Chester French

These famous sculptors were in the prime of their careers.  Saint Gaudens, at 47, had been the sculptural advisor for the 1893 World’s Columbian Exposition in Chicago.  One tradition suggests that MacNeil asked Saint Gaudens for a letter of reference to Phillip Martiny that got him work on the  that Exposition in  1893. John Quincy Adams Ward, at age 65 was the ‘grandfather’ of American sculptors, and the founder as well as standing president of the National Sculpture Society. Daniel Chester French, age 45, was also a founding member of the National Sculpture Society, and sculpted the colossal sixty-foot golden “Republic” centerpiece statue for the Chicago Fair. ( A thirty foot tall miniature golden replica of which still graces Jackson Park in Chicago today.)

Marriage:

On Christmas Day 1895, in Chicago, he married Carol Louise Brooks, also a sculptor. Earlier MacNeil was informed that he had won the Rinehart Roman Scholarship. Following their wedding, the pair left for Rome, passing three years there (1896-1899) and eventually spend a fourth year in Paris where their first son, Claude, was born.  During those years they study together under the same masters and  live on the shared income of Hermon’s Rinehart Scholarship.  (Carol  had also studied sculpture with both Lorado Taft and Frederick William MacMonnies and been 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. )

Future:

Other events from 1895 would later unfold into sculpture-opportunities for Hermon MacNeil. In May in Greenwich Village, New York City, Stanford White, with assistance from both Frederick MacMonnies and Phillip Martiny, completed a permanent Washington Arch. 

,
1895 photo of Empty pedestals on the new Washington Arch with New Yorkers strolling into the popular park.  The skyline includes Judson Memorial Church tower to the right of the Arch.  NYC Citizens would wait more than twenty years before the MacNeil and Calder tributes to George Washington as Commander-in-Chief and as President would be commissioned and put in place in 1916 and 1918. (Photo credit: NYC -Architecture.com: ~  http://nyc-architecture.com/GV/GV046WashingtonSquareArch.htm)

The first one, made in 1889 of paper and wood, commemorated the centennial of  the inauguration of  George Washington.  Received with great popularity, the citizens of NYC demanded a permanent Arch monument for their first President.  White’s design was dedicated on May 4, 1895 with two empty pedestals, meant for statues of Washington.  These niches on the north face of the monument remained empty for almost two decades before MacNeil’s statue of Washington as Commander-in-Chief would fill one pedestal (east side, in 1916), and Alexander Stirling Calder’s statue of Washington as Statesman would fill the other (west side, in 1918).

While Chicagoans have seen these two MacNeil sculptures daily, they are new to this website’s collection of Hermon A. MacNeil’s art.  The groupings reside on Cook County Building. Each contain two male figures holding the Seal of Cook County. They are visible daily, across from the Daly Center at 118 N. Clark St.

MacNeil ~ Bas Relief – Seal of Cook County -1908 (left pair)

LEFT Pair 1).   VIEW A:  (Photo credit: Atelier Teee at Flickr)  http://www.flickr.com/photos/atelier_tee/2532280839/#/

VIEW B: (Photo Credit: Atelier Teee)  http://cookingimages.com/cook-county-building-sculpture/

RIGHT Pair 2).  VIEW C: http://img.groundspeak.com/waymarking/large/4a5e4e68-f29a-497f-86fc-97eeb563b75f.jpg

VIEW D: (Photo Credit: adgorn at Waymarking)  http://www.waymarking.com/waymarks/WM8APA_Cook_County_Building_Figures_Chicago_IL

These, along with two sculptures by MacNeil, two others by Leon Hermant and Carl Beil (“Labor on Water” & “Labor on Land”), adorn the building.  All four maybe seen in the video below.  This two minute video of the group has been produced by MindsMedia at their link below:
Bas reliefs by MacNeil and Hermant

Completed in 1908, the Cook County Building houses Courtrooms and public offices. At the time the 200 foot skyscraper dwarfed it’s neighbors, but now sits in the shadows of later skyscrapers in the downtown. Chicago City Hall, the twin structure on the same block was completed in 1912.

Photo & history of the building available at:  ArchitectureFarm

http://architecturefarm.wordpress.com/2009/11/24/old-chicago-skyscraper-of-the-week-citycounty-building/

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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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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
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