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 Chicago Downtown

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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CHICAGO YEARS:  Partners and Colleagues

Columbia_World_ExpoWhen Hermon MacNeil came home to the United States from Paris, he did not return to Cornell.  He stopped in New York to consult with Augustus Saint Gaudens about finding work as a sculptor.  Saint Gaudens referred him to Philip Martiny, a former student and assistant, who was doing preliminary sketches for the Chicago Worlds Fair (World’s Columbian Exposition) to take place in that city in 1893.  

So MacNeil chose to settle in Chicago where this collosal World’s Fair was “being born.”  This decision proved momentous in many ways. In his ‘Chicago Years’ he met people who would remain professional colleagues and friends for the next four decades.   These included Frederick MacMonnies, Lorado Taft, his pupil, Carol Louise  Brooks (who MacNeil was to marry in 1895), Daniel Chester French, as well as architects Daniel Burnham, Stanford White, and Charles Follen McKim. The rest of MacNeil’s career would become a repeated succession of partnerships with these colleagues on projects, monuments, buildings, and memorials that were joint efforts of many Beaux Arts trained scupltors and architects associated with the American Academy in Rome.

1893Chicago_expo_prog

Daily Program of Chicago World’s Fair for Wednesday, October 11, 1893. This sketch of the Electrical Building was part of the preliminary drawings of the “White City.” MacNeil made several statues on this building. [ SEE ACTUAL PHOTO BELOW ]

Administration Bldg. of the White City at the Columbian Exposition: http://members.cox.net/academia/cassatt8.html

The Chicago World’s Fair celebrated the 400 Anniversary of the voyage of Christopher Columbus to the New World and was officially known as the Columbian Exposition. Hundreds of buildings and dozens of architectural Palaces of Art, Transportation, US Government Building, Horticulture, Fisheries, and the Electricity Building were created for the event. The temporary sculptures were decorated with allegorical figures, cherubs, and statues that numbered in the thousands. They accompanied fountains, waterways, plazas, and acres of unimaginable features that became known as The White City.

The sculptures, which were carried out in staff, a weather-resistant plaster, were destroyed with the exhibition buildings, but the successful effect they produced led to further similar commissions at the Pan-American Exposition, [[Buffalo, New York (1901) and the Louisiana Purchase Exposition, St Louis, (1904). http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Philip_Martiny

This secession of World’s Fairs celebrated the dawn of a 20th Century of Progress, as well as, an emerging image of the United States as the world’s foremost nation of progress, the inheritor of the cultural images and art of the European World.  An emerging national identity, pride, and arrogance are all visible in the history of these endeavors.  The video links at the end of this post capture these and other aspects of the magical extravagance and promotion of these global endeavors.

It is difficult in our day to get a feel for what these Expositions were.  They were comparable to a new Disneyland being built every three or four years. Incidentally, Walt Disney’s father, Elias Disney worked in construction for the Chicago Fair.  Some evidence exists that these fairs inspired Disney:

He was a construction worker for the 1893 World’s Columbian Exposition in Chicago, an event which author Erik Larson cites as a source of inspiration for his son Walt and the Disney kingdom he would eventually create. (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Elias_Disney)

The links to videos below give additional perspective of the detail and scope of these Expositions.  Take time to  enjoy these modern reviews of this gilded time.

MacNeil would win the Rinehart scholarship, passing three years (1896-1899) in Rome and eventually spend another year in Paris.

List of World’s Fairs: Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_world%27s_fairs#1890s

A statue of Ben Franklin stood at the entrance of the Electricity Building which housed the Tower of Light, displays by Western Electric, General Electric, American Bell Telephone, Edison’s lasest phonographs and hundreds of other electrical exhibits from around the world.

Video Links on Chicago World’s Fair ~ Columbian Exposition

  1. Brief overview The White City. (1:17)
  2. 1893 Chicago World\’s Fair (Columbian Exposition) Documentary (9:13) http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eBpBl1Nqjyc&NR=1
  3. Expo: Magic of the White City Magic of the White City Source: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uEi3S1HRRoA&NR=1
  4. The World’s Columbian Exposition – architectural animation:  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3izaIpXcBU4&feature=related
  5. Composite panorama photo: http://newsburglar.com/2008/10/17/one-last-chicago-expo-photo/

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WHAT YOU FIND HERE.

Nearby or far away, there is no ONE place to go and appreciate this wide range of art pieces. Located in cities from east to west coast, found indoors and out, public and hidden, these creations point us toward the history and values in which our lives as Americans have taken root.

Webmaster: Daniel Neil Leininger ~ HAMacNeil@gmail.com
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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