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 “Chief of the Multnomah”


PART ONE

The next several story-postings  on www.HermonAtkinsMacNeil.com will document my “Searching for Uncle Hermon” in Portland, Oregon.

The Astoria Column high over the city overlooks the Pacific Ocean and the mouth of the Columbia River. Here Lewis and Clark reached the ocean in 1805 and wintered there. Donna and I visited here before driving on into Portland.

In 1804, President Thomas Jefferson commissioned Second Lieutenant William Clark. and Captain Meriwether Lewis to lead an expedition exploring the Louisiana Purchase Territories. Their goal, in part, was to search the territory for a possible river passage to the Pacific. 

Wall mural of Lewis & Clark in a Portland hotel that houses Jakes Grill

Wall mural of Lewis and Clark Expedition in Jake’s Restaurant the In the lobby of the old Hotel Governor, Portland Oregon.

While they did not find a contiguous river route to the sea, they did reach the Pacific at what is now Astoria, Oregon.

On November 20, 1805 they encounter the Pacific Ocean at the mouth of the Columbia River.

A monument there, the Astoria Column, sits atop the high bluff overlooking the Columbia River as it flows into the Pacific Ocean.  

Donna and I came to Portland for four days to observe and document the “Coming of The White Man.” This 1904 sculpture by “Uncle Hermon” marks the westward most reach of his public monuments. 

—  The year 1904 marked the Centennial of the Lewis and Clark adventure. MacNeil’s opportunity to place a monument here in Portland came at the invitation of a prominent Portland Family, the David P. Thompson family.

At last we had arrived.

H. A. MacNeil’s Tribute to Portland, the indigenous Multnomah tribe, and the Centenary of the Lewis and Clark Expedition was in hiking distance.

After writing about it for 10 years, “The Coming of The White Man” statue was on the agenda for the next morning!

As it unfolded, the day was beautiful and pictures stunning.
Webmaster Dan has arrived at another MacNeil Sculpture. 

Sacajawea appears in Jake’s Grill murals.

MORE TO COME – stay tuned … 

Webmaster Dan has come to the “The Coming of The White Man” statue after writing for 10 years about it on this site. The day was beautiful and pictures stunning.

 

 

 

 

 

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“The Coming of the White Man in Washington Park, Portland, Oregon. This photo shows the legs of the Indian on the left which Jo Davidson painfully modeled in plaster casts. The title is sculpted into the base. The whole group sits on a boulder that MacNeil crafted for the setting from a granite quarry up the Columbia River granite. The granite came to the Park by barge. Then, a team of horses brought it up the hillside, all under MacNeil’s direction and supervision

Jo Davidson continues the narrative of his adventures working in the  Studio of Hermon MacNeil:

Besides being a gardener, a sculptor’s assistant and an errand boy, I also became a model. Henri Crenier had noticed my legs one day while we were swimming and insisted they were just right for the young Indian in ‘The Coming of the White Man.’ MacNeil thought he could save time by making a plaster cast of my legs.

So Gregory and Crenier volunteered to do the job, claiming to be experts in casting from life. I was innocent and did not realize what I was up against. I was rather hairy, and they rather haphazardly rubbed the oil over my legs. That done, they covered my legs with plaster, and as the plaster set, the string that was to separate the two halves of the mold broke. Their fun increased as my temper rose, but I was in plaster up to my loins and was helpless. After setting the plaster became very hot and disagreeable. Mr. Gregory and Mr. Crenier chopped gleefully away, separating the two parts. Having completed that part of the job to their satisfaction, they proceeded to take the mold off my legs. The pain was excruciating, for the hair got mixed up with the plaster and as they pulled the mold off of me my hair went with it. I screamed and swore at them, but my anger only made them laugh louder. They finally got the mold off, leaving my legs like two boiled lobsters. The cast turned out to be a very hairy one. I saw those legs many years later in MacNeil’s studio, and I swear they were hairier than ever!

Henri Crenier took a special delight in teasing me. I liked him and took it good-naturedly. But one day I lost my temper and we came to blows. I knocked him down and relieved my feelings by giving him a healthy pummeling. I was so busy that I did not hear MacNeil come into the studio. Suddenly I heard him say: “ Jo, when you get through, will you mix me a little plaster.”

The summer passed quickly. Those were rich and full days. I was sure of my vocation. I was going to be a sculptor.”

Jo Davidson

Thus in his own words, Jo Davidson recounts becoming the unwitting model for the legs of this younger Indian. 

Jo Davidson sculpting a young Frank Sinatra. (1946) – http://www.highlands-gallery.com/jo-davidson

The plaster casts were made on his very hairy legs.  It proved a painful adventure for the naive teen.  Humored by the absurd scene, the “experienced” sculptors laughed at his embarrassment and discomfort as they removed the plaster casts with his leg hair embedded.

Despite the teasing, Jo Davidson went on to study sculpture, develop his talents, and find his unique place as a sculptor doing what he loved.

Hermon MacNeil’s “Chief of the Multnomah” was cast in full size and half size versions.  This one was Discovered by a reader of this website several years ago in Vernon, New Jersey.  Here was a brief note that was sent to the website:

Another Chief of the Mulnomah

Another Chief of the Multnomah

I’ve been noticing a magnificent piece of the scultpture for the past few years, located in Vernon N.J. at the Minerals Spa and Resort. After closer examination I discovered it is Chief Multnomah with his arms crossed, standing on tip toes looking outward. “The coming of the white man” is the title usually ascribed to this work, but in this case the chief stands alone without his scout or assistant as pictured on your web-site. It is signed simply, H.A. Macneil S.C. 04. Just thought it was a variation of the piece that you might find interesting.I’m not really sure how long its been there, because I’m relatively new to the area. Being a sculptor myself and one that is particularly fond on the late 19th cent/early 20th cent period, with the likes of Rodin, Bayre, Dega, etc. Macneil certainly is a strong and salutory member of that period. Regards, D. Moldoff.

My response was as follows:

Dear D. L. Moldoff,

Thanks for noticing sculpture around you and sharing the information.  The ‘Chief Multnomah’ is the larger Half of H. A. MacNeil’s “The Coming of the White Man.” (COTWM). While the COTWM piece is only at the Washington Park in Portland, OR, where it was commissioned for that city.  The original plaster sculpture model is in the Poppenhusen Institute in Queens, NYC, just blocks from MacNeil’s studio.

(Click HERE ) for link to my archives of seven post on Chief of the Mulnomah.)

There are multiple castings of this single piece, the “Chief Multnomah”, possibly over 20 in total. I believe there are at lease two groupings of 12 casts and 9 casts of this statue. I have found information and location on three other ‘Multnomah’s. Plus there are many smaller (half-scale) casts of this sculpture.

Thanks again.

Dan Leininger

These are the related entries for this story. For MORE see these previous posts:

  1. Hermon MacNeil ~ Postcard ~ 2012 MacNeil Month #1 ~ “Coming of the White Man” (9)
  2. Poppenhusen Institute makes MacNeil Collection Appeal! (8)
  3. Portland – Coming of the White Man (7)
  4. “Chief of the Multnomah” ~ DO WE HAVE ONE? ~ ??????? (7)

Several sculptures of Hermon Atkins MacNeil are featured in a current exhibition at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City continuing through April 13, 2014.  The show entitled “The American West in Bronze, 1850-1925”  contains three parts: Indians, wild animals, and cowboys.

A MacNeil "Sun Vow" sculpture housed in the Founder's gallery of the Reading Public Museum in Reading, PA

A MacNeil “Sun Vow” sculpture housed in the Founder’s gallery of the Reading Public Museum in Reading, PA

Another Chief of the Mulnomah

Another “Chief of the Mulnomah” was identified at Mount Vernon, Ohio in an August 2013 inquiry from Linnette Porter-Metler of the Mt. Vernon and Knox County Library Staff. The date ’03’ follows MacNeil’s signature.

Three MacNeil works of early Native American images are visible online in an 8 photo slide show of the exhibit. They are apparently part of the “Indians” segment of the show.  CLICK HERE for the link to this slide show.  The MacNeil works include The Chief of the Multnomah (slide #3 in left background); The Moqui Runner (slide #6 foreground); The Sun Vow (slide #6 right rear).  

The exhibit has received some criticism in a NY Times art review entitled  “Manifest Destiny at the Point of a Gun” by Ken Johnson.  The MacNeil pieces are specifically not mentioned in Johnson’s critique. 

(More on Ken Johnson’s comments in the another article.)

MacNeil's "Moqui Runner" at the Newberry Library (photo by webmaster - bkgd removed)

MacNeil’s “Moqui Runner” at the Reading Room of the Newberry Library  in Chicago. This piece is a gift of Edward Everett Ayer who encouraged and marketed 12 castings of this piece for MacNeil during his early years in Rome 1896-99.  (photo by Dan Leininger, webmaster – bkgd removed)

“The American West in Bronze, 1850-1925” continues through April 13 at the Metropolitan Museum of Art; 212-535-7710, metmuseum.org.

Multnomah13b

Base inscription on “Chief of the Multnomah” at Mount Vernon and Knox County Library of Mt. Vernon, Ohio

Last summer I received an email from Linette Porter-Metler of the Mount Vernon and Knox County Library of Mount Vernon, Ohio.  She enclosed the photos you see below.

Linette entitled her email, “DO WE HAVE ONE?” Here is what she said:

Thanks for your website!

We are a four-library public library system in Central Ohio.  All year, we have been celebrating our 125th Anniversary here as a public library in Mount Vernon, Ohio, and during our research we found that one of our sculptures donated to us in 1936 by a Dr. Freeman Ward may be one of The Chief of the Multnomah statues shown on your site. But it does have some differences as you can see by the photo compared to the one on your site at the New York museum.

Ours does not seem to have a number stating it was one of the copies (i.e. 4/20)..All it has is his name, the word “Multnomah”, and the number “03” etched on the side of his footrest. I will send photos. Also, there is a copper? Twisted piece at top of bow near his shoulder.

I will enclose as many photos as I can.  If you have any further information to share with us about this, we would appreciate it!

Thanks!

Linette Porter-Metler, Community Relations / Public Affairs, Public Library of Mount Vernon and Knox County, 201 N. Mulberry Street, Mount Vernon, OHIO

PLMVKC Ind8My answer is simply:

YES,  MT. VERNON,

YOU HAVE ONE !

Another "Chief of the Mulnomah" discovered at Mt. Vernon, Ohio.

Another “Chief of the Mulnomah” discovered at Mt. Vernon, Ohio.

 

 

PLMVKC Ind03

H. A. MACNEIL signature on the Multnomah statue with the year ’03’ (as in 1903).

February is “MacNeil Month at HermonAtkinsMacNeil.com

Feb 27th, 2012 is the 146th Anniversary of Hermon MacNeil’s birth.

Hermon MacNeil’s “Coming of the White Man” sculpture in Portland, OR, appears to be the most popular postcard of all his statues.

"Coming of the White Man" (Postcard credit: Gibson Shell, KC MO)

Hermon A. MacNeil’s “Coming of the White Man” in Portland Oregon has an interesting story of the  boulder-like stone that forms its base.  This postcard image from Gib Shell shows the enormous granite stone on which MacNeil placed the statue.

The story, as I read it from a newspaper interview from about 1905, went like this.  MacNeil was very particular about how his sculptures were mounted. Many of them were placed on bases that he made as a special part of the piece.  The Marquette-Jolliet-Illini grouping in Chicago, the “Confederate Defenders” statue in Charleston each have stone bases with carvings, words, and art details that compliment the piece.

MacNeil wanted a stone base that fit into the wooded setting of Washington Park (Plaza Park) in Portland,Oregon.  The site for the statue, I am told, overlooks the Columbia River to the East.  The Native American pair [a Chief of the Multnomah, and the Medicine Man (scout)] look into the river valley and spy the first White explorers coming to their region.  MacNeil portrays the Chief as tall, proud, and serene, while the Medicine Man is aroused, eager, and excited.  [See: ” If MacNeil’s “Chiefs” Could Speak, What would They tell us Today? ].   

MacNeil considered the cost of shipping a stone from New York.  He decided it would cost too much.  But he knew what he wanted in a stone.  So he made a plaster model (that is what sculptors do).  The model was 1/3 the size of the stone that he wanted.  Then he shipped it with the statue to Portland.  He sent instructions that a stone be found sufficient for a base. 

When the statue arrived in Portland, Hermon came and found that no one had looked for a stone as he requested.  So he took his 1/3 plaster model, put it in a boat and traveled up the Columbia River to a granite quarry about 20 miles up river.  Leaving his plaster model in the boat, he went to the quarry and found a piece of granite sufficient to shape for a natural looking base.   Finding a suitable stone, he had it transported to a barge and them brought up the river.  At the foot of the hill where the statue was to be placed, it took a four horse team to pull the stone up the hill (this was 1904 remember).

MacNeil must have sculpted the base on site.  It bears the name of the statue and the information on the donor.  When looking at a sculpture I seldom take time to consider the base, pedestal, or the setting in which the sculptor, artist, architect may have placed it. I hope MacNeil’s story adds to your curiosity and appreciation of his work.

This photo shows the upper base of the statue as part of the casting itself with the name sculpted into the base. This sits on the boulder that MacNeil crafted for the setting from Columbis River granite. (Postcard courtesy of Gibson Shell, KC MO)


 

 

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