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 Ezra Cornell

Here are the first nine photos of the statue of Ezra Cornell taken on a recent trip through New York state and Cornell University campus by my friend and a fellow history buff, Chris Carlsen and his son, Jensen.  Chris was staying at “Old Stone Heap,” the home of his friend William Buckley “Buck” Briggsan Adjunct Professor of Law at Cornell.  Click on Buck’s name above to check out his bio and see his extensive NFL expertise.  ( Buck can also be heard doing the “color” radio broadcasts for the “Big Red” Cornell Football team.  “Uncle Ezra” would be proud! )

Anyway, quality photos of ‘Uncle Ezra’ like these by Chris are rare.  Detail closeups of the signature, foundry mark, and image features have never been seen before on this website. Nor have I seen them on any other website either.  We have them from a 360 degree perspective.  [ Webmaster is Proud. “Uncle Ezra would be proud!” ]

MacNeil once told an interviewer that as he sculpted Ezra Cornell’s features, he realized the man’s resemblance to his own father, John Clinton MacNeil.  After that insight, the sculptor said that his labors became a work of happy enthusiasm.  [ “Papa John AND Uncle Hermon would be proud!” ]

This MacNeil work was begun in 1917. It’s public dedication was delayed until 1919 due to World War I. A photo of all the straw hats at the dedication can be seen at Chronicle On-Line: Nov 6, 2007

“Stay tuned more to come later.”  ~ Webmaster

Thanks Chris 




































H. A. MacNeil, Sc. 1917


Roman Bronze Works in NYC was the premire foundry used by MacNeil for its 'Lost Wax' process of casting.





[mappress mapid=”38″]

Upon graduation from Massachusetts Normal Art School, MacNeil’s work was recognized with the award ‘first prize’ in his graduating class.   This honor attracted the attention of Cornell University in Ithaca, New York.  They invited him to teach as Instructor of Industrial Art. His discipline there was sometimes described as ‘modeling’ – meaning sculpturing from live models.

Hermon Macneil's 'green likeness' of Ezra Cornel is what most Cornell students visualize ads "Dear Uncle Ezra".

For three years (1886-89), he taught on the faculty.  It seems a formative time.  He saved his money, followed his dreams,  and resigned in 1889 to travel to Europe studying art in Paris.  The Cornell University, wanting to stay connected to this promising young sculptor, told him they would hold his faculty position for him.

Upon returning to the USA, MacNeil decided to settle in Chicago, instead.  The reason was that the Chicago Worlds Fair was generating commissions for Sculpture as part of this ‘modern’ extravaganza.

Yet despite Hermon MacNeil’s decision to not return to Cornell University, the ties and the mutual affection, have remained over the years as evidenced in the following:.

  • In 1893, he  was commissioned to sculpt a bust of the first dean of the Law School Judge Douglas Boardman .  The work remains in Myron Taylor Hall, inside of the Rare Book Room (as seen in the above link).
  • In 1930 he was asked to make a sculpture of Ezra Cornell, the founder of the school to grace the campus.  A moving account of his experience of this sculpture will be posted later on this website.
  • Later, toward the end of his life, he chose to archive his personal papers in the library at Cornell where they remain the largest repository of his records and correspondence, to this day.  See MacNeil Personal Papers

MacNeil’s fingerprints remain on Cornell University to this day.

The upcoming post, MacNeil Month #3, will feature “Studies in Paris.”

Hermon MacNeil’s ‘green likeness’ of Ezra Cornell on the Arts Quad is what most students visualaze.

Over two hundred years after his birth [See the Party], Ezra Cornell is advising students on-line at Cornell University. His statue, sculpted by Hermon A. MacNeil, offered some sense of the founders presence on campus when it was dedicated ninety-one years ago. But MacNeil’s figure like all other such art captured the benefactor as ‘frozen in time’ and non-interactive.

So, enter the digital world, circa 1986. Jerry Feist, Assistant Dean of Students and Steve Worona ’70, M.S. ’73 inaugurated Dear Uncle Ezra (DUE) as the world’s first online advice column. Feist became the first Uncle Ezra, answering questions for years many before passing the torch to his unknown successor.  The creation has continued to answer “over 20,000 questions, ranging from the serious (“I’m stressing out big time — where can I get help?”) to the silly (“Why is there no chair lift on the slope?”).”

The site provides an interactive voice for Cornell students to meet their “Dear Uncle Ezra” (whose identity is kept strictly under wraps).  Not only is it popular on Cornell but several universities have copied the idea for their own campus websites. “Uncle Ezra is the original, of which all others are copies.

MacNeil’s said of this statue, “When I began to work on that, my heart fairly leaped within me. Mr. Cornell, I discovered, looked like my own father! … And so throughout it was a labor of love; it almost worked itself out.” [ J. Walker Mc Spadden, Famous Sculptors of America, pp. 319-320. ]

MacNeil’s said of this statue, “When I began to work on that, my heart fairly leaped within me. Mr. Cornell, I discovered, looked like my own father! … And so throughout it was a labor of love; it almost worked itself out.” [ J. Walker Mc Spadden, Famous Sculptors of America, pp. 319-320. ]

 According to Christine Ryu in an article in the Cornell Daily Sun,“Two centuries after his birth Ezra Cornell is most readily identified by his green statue on the Arts Quad.” So Hermon gave Erza a likeness.  Computer technology and Staff creativity have given him a voice and a presence in student life and the staff services. Ryu quotes local sources as follows:

Resident Cornell history buff and former Sun columnist Corey Earle ’07 says “I think Dear Uncle Ezra is a phenomenal resource for the Cornell community,” noting that “with all the vast resources that Cornell students have available to them at Cornell, the most difficult thing is finding the right one to use. More than anything else, Uncle Ezra points people in the right direction.”

We at HermonAtkinsMacNeil.com have brought our own “Dear Uncle Hermon” into the digital age.   Perhaps both Uncles would be proud.  If Uncle Hermon’s art gave Ezra a three dimensional likeness on campus, then Dear Uncle Ezra (DUE) certainly gave him a voice.  Ezra has come a long way from his telegraph technology days and Western Union fortune and empire that he used to build Cornell University.  Thanks to both of our Uncles.  You have provided quite an inheritance.

MacNeil’s said of this statue, “When I began to work on that, my heart fairly leaped within me. Mr. Cornell, I discovered, looked like my own father! … And so throughout it was a labor of love; it almost worked itself out.” [ J. Walker Mc Spadden, Famous Sculptors of America, pp. 319-320. ]


Dear Ezra http://ezra.cornell.edu/

Cornell Daily Sun http://cornellsun.com/node/2726

See Also: [ J. Walker Mc Spadden, Famous Sculptors of America, Libraries Press: Freeport, New York, pp. 319-320. ]


Ninety-four years after its first minting, the MacNeil “Standing Liberty quarter” retains a strong following among coin collectors.  Tom LaMarre of Coins Magazine calls it MacNeil’s “real masterpiece.”

That says a lot coming from a coin expert like LaMarre. In a fascinating article at NumisMaster.com, he offers the usual numismatic history of the SLQ mixed with new information and delightful humor.  The author has studied enough about MacNeil to mention about a dozen of his other works in the article including, “Sun Vow”, “Pony Express”, and “Ezra  Cornell.” So, the “real masterpiece” compliment seems more than just another ‘two-bit’ comment.  Some of LaMarre’s words which laud MacNeil’s Standing Liberty quarter include:

“Rich in symbolism and finely engraved detail, the new quarter reflected the spirit of peace and preparedness just before the United States entered World War I. It also revived a classical style in sharp contrast to the abstract and modern trends that were sweeping the art world at that time.”

Hermon Atkins MacNeil 1916

MacNeil's "Real Masterpiece" the Standing Liberty quarter design was one of the first US Coins created by an sculptor.

LaMarre gives a thorough history of the design development, the changes, the controversies and the over-involvement of the Director of the Mint.  A previous post on this website describes Jay H. Cline’s research book on the Standing Liberty Quarter includes nearly forty pages of letters between MacNeil and the Mint. LaMarre, finds this humorous  quote on the over-involvement Mr Woolley in MacNeil’s project:

Mint Director Robert W. Woolley was so involved overseeing the preparation of the quarter design at the Mint that the Gettysburg Times predicted it would be known as the “Woolley quarter” or simply the “Woolley.”

Jay Cline's 4th Ed. of Liberty Quarters has excellent information on Hermon MacNeil and this artwork piece minted from 1916- 33

The article offers some details of MacNeil history not seen before.   He gives a discussion of the two women who served as models for the MacNeil’s art, namely Doris Doscher and Irene MacDowell. I had not known that Doris Doscher went public with her role in the SLQ on the TV show “I’ve Got A Secret” (or click HERE for second link).

Coin Collectors, especially SLQ fans and MacNeil enthusiasts alike, will enjoy Tom LaMarre’s article “MacNeil’s Standing Liberty Remains a Favorite.” It summarizes the importance of this art piece for collectors, it’s fascinating history, and MacNeil’s persistent creativity in developing the SLQ.  LaMarre states:

The Standing Liberty quarter had a sculptural quality that set it apart from all previous quarter dollars. The Numismatist described it as “strikingly beautiful.” The New York Times called it a “silvern beauty.”

Coin collectors looking for more can graduate to Jay Cline’s book on Liberty Quarters.  Cline’s book devotes Chapter 5 to telling the story of the two models that posed.

Either way the coin provides in interesting study in history, art and human nature.  Treasury officials, namely Secretary William MacAdoo, had concerns about MacNeil’s delicate engraving not wearing as well in circulation as less artistic coin images of the past.  But numismatists fine the delicate piece simply a treasure. Again LaMarre offers a good twist:

According to the Treasury secretary, it was a “fast-wearing” design that never quite worked out. In the opinion of collectors, it is a masterpiece that will stand in beauty forever.

Gregory H. Jenkins AIA, Chicago architect and keeper of the  “Chicago Sculpture in the Loop” website has documented the restoration of Hermon Akins MacNeil ‘s 117 year old bronze relief panels depicting the burial of Pere Marquette by the Native American people who he befriended. The four panels are part of the historic character and preservation of the The Marquette Building, a Chicago architectural and business land mark currently home to Holabird and Roche.

The Marquette building in the Loop is one of Chicago’s many commercial and corporate centers committed to preserving the history, art, and architecture of the city.

“I walk by there everyday on my way to work,” my daughter, Rachel, said when I showed her Gregory Jenkin’s well-done website postings.   The four bronze panels are an inconspicuous part of the Marquette Building at 140 Dearborn St in the downtown. These art treasures are easily lost to passer-byes in the bustling Chicago loop.   As you can see from the photo below, they reside about 10 feet above the noise and scurry of the fast-paced pedestrians, cars, limos, delivery trucks and  on Dearborn St (as in Ft Dearborn, children! – see below).

The four panels above the doors were restored in the summer of 2009 by  the John D and Catherine T MacArthur Foundation, as a part of its ongoing curatorship of the arts and the The Marquette Building. Gregory H. Jenkins posted the following comments on the significance of this art and preservation on the website:

“The Marquette Building was completed in 1895. Twenty years had passed since the Battle of Little Bighorn. And the passing of the the American Indian had, by then, become on object of confused Romanticism. The Fort Dearborn Massacre was still a story Chicago grandparents told their grandchildren. (Bad Indians!) But the country now stretched from Ocean to Ocean. And the time of Jacques Marquette and Louis Joliet hiking a bucolic Chicago River –helped along by Native Americans — was, surely, regretfully, gone forever.”

In four postings Jenkins follows the progress of the restoration replacement of the panels

July 4, 2009 – Post 1 – http://chicagosculptureintheloop.blogspot.com/2009/07/marquette-buiding-hermon-atkins-macneil.html

July 12, 2009 – Post 2:  http://chicagosculptureintheloop.blogspot.com/search?q=macNeil&updated-max=2009-07-01T15%3A23%3A00-07%3A00&max-results=20

July 18, 2009 – Post 3:  http://chicagosculptureintheloop.blogspot.com/2009/07/marquette-building-hermon-atkins_18.html

July 22, 2009 – Post 4: http://chicagosculptureintheloop.blogspot.com/2009/07/marquette-building-hermon-atkins_22.html

MacNeil’s bronze relief sculptures tell the story of Marquette’s discoveries and life among the Illinois people. [This picture of 6-12-10 includes the webmaster and family mambers examining and documenting the art.

Jenkins tells some of the MacNeil history of his contact with the Lakota Sioux and other Native people who were a part of Buffalo Bill Cody’s Wild West Show in conjunction with the Chicago World’s fair of 1893: “Hermon Atkins MacNeil met Black Pipe, of the Lakota Sioux on the Midway in 1893. This Indian, who had seen the last of the open prairies, performed at Wild Bill Cody’s Wild West Show at the Chicago World’s Fair and stayed in Chicago after the Fair to work and model for MacNeil. His rough features, often repeated in MacNeil’s work, are contrasted here with the delicate images of two children. Both gain from the proximity.” Posted by Gregory H. Jenkins AIA



So Chicagoans, look up next time you are on Dearborn Street and take in the art and history of Chicago.

Thank You Mr. Jenkins, for lifting our eyes above the sidewalk and for enjoying the Loop Art from places as remote as South Dakota (Land of the Lakota, Dakota and Nakota people)   ~ the Webmaster, Sioux Falls, SD




MacNeils likeness of Cornell University founder Ezra Cornell with cane and hat in hand overlooks the campus.

The statue of Cornell University founder, Ezra Cornell, was dedicated on June 12, 1919 after a delay brought on by the World War I.  A picture of the dedication event (complete with straw-hats on the gentlemen in attendance) can be seen at the link below to the Cornell Chronicle Online along with a news account of the decication.  Hermon Atkins MacNeil came to Cornell in 1886 (at the age of 20) to teach modeling (Instructor of Industrial Art).  He taught there for 3 years.  The Cornell Chronicle article sites a tradition that “Miniatures of the statue, known as the ‘coveted Ezra,’ are given to the university’s foremost benefactors as a token of the university’s appreciation for their support.”


Some marketing of these miniatures of this MacNeil sculpture are still done today by art dealers.  The following link provides an example with further data, photo detail, and dimensions.


MacNeil's Ezra Cornell stands with hat and cane in hand

More on Ezra Cornell can be viewed in the The Erza Files


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
Hosting & Tech Support: Leiturgia Communications, Inc.           WATCH US GROW


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