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 Illini

Hermon MacNeil’s bust of Abe Lincoln DID NOT go out for a walk in 1979. It WAS KIDNAPPED! [Since the bust has no legs, we thought the original “walk and fresh air” story was bogus in the first place.]

Holly Koreb, Senior Director, of the Office of Communications and Marketing at U of I’s College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, confirmed our suspicions in a message today. She has informed us (within the hour) that a public confession has been posted in audio on the LAS website.  [ www.lincolnhall.illinois.edu/storyography ]

Artist's rendition of the NEW Security system for Lincoln bust! Looks rather flimsy from here.

The anonymous culprit ‘claims’ to be a member of a group of ‘supposed’ pre-professionals who eventually formed themselves into the notorious Statue Liberation Society (hereafter the ‘S.L.S.’).

This student, now an alumnus, garbles on for 7 minutes and 22 seconds [ in a disguised voice] about a harmless prank that resulted  in the kidnapping of the 16th President from his prominent perch in the circular stairwell of Lincoln Hall.

The disguised culprit, now in his seeming mid-life repose, says in part:  “We alerted University police [of the bust’s whereabouts], and certainly we were not responsible for any damage or any scratches that appeared later.” —anonymous member of the Statue Liberation Society

This statement of ‘non-responsibility’ emits fumes of self-satisfaction, deception and a possible lack of understanding of “good clean fun”. (While we will defer to qualified historians of Illini lore for details on this organization, it does seem to be a post-incident fabrication to cover pranks that escalated to grand theft – not to mention the heinous act of kidnapping of a dead president.)

But in a conciliatory effort to NOT rub S.L.S. ‘noses’ in their infamous-hidden past, but to offer instead, a ‘fresh’ renovation to student life, we at HermonAtkinsMacNeil.com propose:

  1. That the Statue Liberation Society (S.L.S.) anonymously raise a challenge-reparation of $50,000 to be contributed to the existing ‘Lincoln Hall Scholarship Fund’.
  2. That these donations be met and exceeded by matching gifts from the faculty, staff, alumni and students of U of I.
  3. That the S.L.S. then be invited to shed their cloak of anonymity in a true ‘Lincoln-Douglas’ style of honesty.
  4. And that a spirit of ‘New Beginning’ be initiated by all parties with a rub of Lincoln’s refurbished nose in his new perch at the dedication of the new Lincoln Hall.

We think even our ‘UNCLE HERMON’ would smile at a ‘prank’ like that. 😆

Good Clean Fun for the next student generation!

“Looking Good, Mr. Lincoln! The Lincoln Bust Gets Restored”

The University of Illinois has sent MacNeil’s “Abe Lincoln” to Chicago for 3 month for a restoration of the statue’s patina original.  Now the bust is on display at the Spurlock Museum.

The webmaster of HermonAtkinsMacNeil.com gets a 20 second voice-over (2:40 to 3:00 min.) in this video.  Our webmaster is a bit tongue-tied, but he is quite sincere.

For the whole story of this “Land of Lincoln,” “Love of Lincoln,” “Lincoln Lore” saga, CHECK out these previous posts on the topic:

Related posts:

  1. “Honest Abe” On Public Display ~ MacNeil Month #7 (15.4) At the University of Illinois, Abraham Lincoln has been released…
  2. Happy Birthday Mr. Lincoln! ~ MacNeil’s Sculpture Released from Vault ~ MacNeil Month #4 (14.3) Abe Lincoln will be a little late for his 202nd…
  3. MacNeil Bust of Lincoln Stored in Vault (13.5) Hermon Atkins MacNeil would probably be amused to know that…


At the University of Illinois, Abraham Lincoln has been released from the vault.  He is out for public view.

A Nose Waiting to Be Rubbed « 2011 « Articles « LASNews Magazine ... Herman Atkins MacNeil modeled the bust in 1928 from a full-size statue he had made 14 years earlier. He gave the bronze bust a brown patina, which had worn ... www.las.uiuc.edu/alumni/magazine/articles/2011/bust/

No, this is not a student prank (like the 1979 Illini Incident) when the MacNeil’s Lincoln Statue disappeared. This time its actually a year-long Lincoln party.

Starting at noon on Sunday February 20th, the refurbished Lincoln bust by Hermon A. MacNeil will be on public exhibit in the Spurlock Museum at U of I.

In a recent email Dr. Wayne T. Pitard, Director, of Spurlock Museum, told us:

“Having had the chance to look at the bust in great detail, I am enormously impressed with MacNeil’s talent.  It is a wonderful piece, one of my favorite depictions of Lincoln.  I wanted to let you know that during its exhibition at the Spurlock between February 20 and January of next year, people will have the only chance in our lifetimes to actually walk all the way around the bust, to see it from all angles.  Once it goes back into its niche in Lincoln Hall, the back will no longer be accessible.  If you ever are in the neighborhood, you should try to come by and see it here.”

MacNeil’s Lincoln has graced the Lincoln Hall stair case since 1928.  It was removed for safekeeping in a vault when construction began on a total restoration of Lincoln Hall.  The empty niche that the statue normally occupies is visible in this video of the Lincoln Hall Kick Off Ceremony (the miniature bust of Lincoln seen here is NOT one of the MacNeil sculpture, but of another artist.)  For the next year it will be in Spurlock for viewing in a 360 degree venue, unlike the setting shown above before restoration. The Public can celebrate MacNeil’s Lincoln Statue at the Spurlock all year.

Holly Korab, (Senior Director in the Office of Communications and Marketing, College of Liberal Arts and Sciences) informed the webmaster this week that:

Mr. MacNeil’s statue is dear to many generations of Illini. We are working on a video for our “This Old Hall” series on the restoration of Lincoln Hall. (Holly, I hope the video has a 360 scene of the statue as it appears on display in Spurlock ~ webmaster). Do you know how Mr. MacNeil felt about our statue?

Gutzon Borglum's famous Lincoln also has a shiny nose from public petting of the piece in Springfield, Illinois.

Well Holly, we do know how MacNeil’s friend and teacher, Lorado Taft, felt about the piece.  Taft was considered the ‘dean of American sculptors’ (especially in the Beaux Arts tradition).  He worked with MacNeil in the 1893 Columbian Exposition — the Chicago World’s Fair.  Carol Brooks, who was one of Taft’s students, would become Herman’s wife in 1895.  She helped Taft as one of the female sculptors known as “White Rabbits.” Through the thirty years since that Exposition, Taft knew the MacNeils and their artistic abilities.  Perhaps this influenced Taft’s choice of the Mac Neil Statue over that of Gutzon Borglum, yet he knew and worked with Borglum as well.   He just seemed to not like the overall effect of the Borglum piece. You can compare for yourself the two Lincolns (superficially, at least) from the photos provided here. More directly Taft stated:

“I regret to say that Borglum’s so called ‘Lincoln’ is my pet aversion; I would prefer not to help in this matter,”

In his book Modern Tendencies in Sculpture, Taft shares his expectation of good sculpture.  In the preface, he states:


Further in the book Taft, lauds MacNeil’s work on his Soldiers and Sailors Monument in Albany and the Washington Arch in NY by saying MacNeil showed:

“his good taste united with a fine decorative sense and with much fluency of handling”… Running through all these works is a dependable sanity most gratifying to meet amid the eccentricities and vagaries of current endeavor.  The sculptor has never exemplified this quality to better advantage than in his fine “Lincoln” model, a work meriting enlargement and a prominent place.” Lorado Taft, Modern Tendencies in Sculpture, University of Chicago Press: Chicago, 1921. p. 120.

In 1923, Taft, recommended MacNeil to James White, the University supervising architect, for the Lincoln Hall placement. Taft’s friend, Hermon Atkins MacNeil, created a bust of Lincoln that the University purchased for $450. http://www.lincolnhall.illinois.edu/history/lincolnhall/entrance/index.html

How did MacNeil feel about his Lincoln statue?

I can’t answer that directly, but MacNeil expressed his thoughts and feelings about the sculptor’s task in 1917.  At the annual meeting of the American Federation of Arts, MacNeil spoke of the progress of contemporary sculpture.

“Above all else, [the artist’s] work must radiate some charm or strength of human character that touches the passer by.”

Errant Bronzes: George Grey Barnard’s Statues of Abraham Lincoln (American Arts Series/University of Delaware Press Books) by Frederick C. Moffatt (2000), p. 129.

He went on to suggest that this radiated art spirit, had to be discovered in the hearts of the observers of the piece.

I know myself, from reading other accounts of MacNeil describing his Marquette, Jolliet, Illini grouping in Douglas Park Chicago, and his Ezra Cornell statue at Ithica, New York, that this art spirit radiated in MacNeil himself as he planned, prepared and sculpted these works.  His heart went into and radiated from each of his sculptures and memorials.  Studying the details he put in them, reveals that to me.  Now the public can assess that at the Spurlock.

SO, Enjoy, Celebrate, and MacNeil’s Lincoln, The Lawyer. May you anticipate the 2013 re-dedication of Lincoln Hall as your 21st Century tribute to Mr. Lincoln.


Lincoln/net Website: by Northern Illinois University – browse primary resource materials about our 16th President. http://lincoln.lib.niu.edu/aboutinfo.html

VISIT SPURLOCK MUSEUM – here’s a Google Map

[mappress mapid=”19″]


MacNeil's 1915 "Lincoln" in Lincoln Hall

Abe Lincoln will be a little late for his 202nd Birthday (Feb 12th), but he will be early for Hermon MacNeil’s 145th birthday (Feb 27th).

University of Illinois officials will bring Hermon MacNeil’s bust of Old Abe out of “safe-keeping” to be displayed in Spurlock Museum starting at 1pm on Sunday February 20, 2011.



Illini news sources bill the event as “A Nose Waiting to Be Rubbed.”

A refurbished Lincoln bust will make a guest appearance at the Spurlock Museum. Who will be the first to rub Lincoln’s nose? The doors to the Spurlock Museum open at 1 p.m. on Sunday, February 20, 2011.

Fans of the Lincoln bust in Lincoln Hall won’t have to wait until the building reopens in 2012 to rub its nose for luck. Beginning on February 20, the restored bust will greet visitors to U of I’s Spurlock Museum. The display will afford visitors a rare 360-degree view of the bust and will also offer the chance to restart an old tradition.

Source: LAS News http://www.las.illinois.edu/alumni/magazine/articles/2011/bust/

A Nose Waiting to Be Rubbed « 2011 « Articles « LASNews Magazine ... Herman Atkins MacNeil modeled the bust in 1928 from a full-size statue he had made 14 years earlier. He gave the bronze bust a brown patina, which had worn ... www.las.uiuc.edu/alumni/magazine/articles/2011/bust/

We at HermonAtkinsMacNeil.com are pleased that our favorite sculptor’s bust of Lincoln will see the light of day and be out for Public review.  We appreciate the care taken to protect this artwork during the renovation of Lincoln Hall on the Urbana Campus. For updates on the restoration go to: Lincoln Hall Project Website:

Previous Post: May 24, 2010 MacNeil Bust of Lincoln Stored in Vault

For a Series of All of our U of I – Lincoln Hall Posts see: https://hermonatkinsmacneil.com/category/location/illinois/university-of-illinois/

Our Photo journey to this statue produced more pictures than we expected, so here is an album of shots and close-up details to enjoy.  MacNeil depicted an Illini Indian in the grouping.  The stone base contains the name of various tribes in the area including Ojibwa, Huron, Ottowa, Menominee, Potawatomi.  Many tribes were united in peaceful federations with each other.  Several weblinks below offer further information.

In 1673, Father Jacques (Pere) Marquette, the French Jesuit missionary priest, along with explorer Louis Joliet, were the first Europeans to enter what is now the State of Illinois at the confluence of the Mississippi and Illinois rivers.  Indian tribes in the area were the Hopewell and Illini. MacNeil’s grouping of Marquette and Joliet with and Illini Indian depicts the journey up these tributaries to Lake Michigan in present day Chicago. Native Americans controlled the Mississippi valley with their flourishing fur trade centered on the Illinois River until the French and Indian wars of 1760. The British took over in 1763, and the area became the State of Illinois in 1818.


MacNeil statue of Marquette, Jolliet, and Illinois Indian in Chicago

History of Great Lakes of Woodland Tribes available at:


Further reading on the Great Lakes Tribal Alliance is available here:


MacNeil's bronze sculpture of Marquette with an Ilinois Indian on his right hand.

Today we took a short trip south from our daughter’s home in Logan Square here in Chicago.  We drove south down through Douglas Park on Sacramento Blvd to Marshall Blvd as it becomes West 24th Blvd. There we found the 85 year old bronze grouping of Pere Marquette, Louis Jolliete, and an Illinois Indian that faces the greenway of the boulevard.

Hermon Atkins MacNeil completed this sculpture in 1926 under a commission by the Benjamin Franklin Ferguson Monument Fund.  Between 1905 and 1931 the Fund placed ten sculptures throughout various parks and beltways of Chicago.

Benjamin Franklin Ferguson, an Chicago lumber baron, left a million dollars in his will of 1905 for the purpose of  “The erection and maintenance of enduring statuary and monuments, in whole or in part of stone, granite or bronze in the parks, along the boulevards or in other public places.”

The massive scale of the trio grouping of about 12 feet on a 6 foot pedestal is visible as one approaches the Monument along Marshall and 24th Avenue Boulevards.

Chicagoans pass by the Marquette Monument daily as it towers over the Boulevards.

The bronze rests on a stone base which has aged (along with the neighborhood) in the eighty-five years since the monument was placed along the busy parkway.

Moccassin detail of Illinois Indian.

MacNeil chose to portray a clean-shaven Marquette.  The many images commemorating the French priest vary in their depiction of his appearance.  Hundreds of monuments and statues stretch  across the path of Marquette’s 17th century missionary exploration of the central U.S. frontier.

Detail of Illinois indian's leg and mocassin shows the sculptor's attention to the human form.

While conducting research for her master’s thesis, Ruth Nelson fell in love with the story of St. Ignace founder Father Jacques Marquette and his exploration of the Great Lakes and Mississippi River. That admiration for Fr. Marquette history has led her around the Midwest learning things long forgotten by many. Her goal is to share what she learns with the many towns connected to Fr. Marquette.

As an art history major at the University of Illinois at Chicago, Ms. Nelson wrote her master’s thesis on the artwork in the lobby of the Marquette Building in downtown Chicago, focusing on the mosaic and bronze artwork centralized around Fr. Marquette and his travels.

Bibliography: Ruth Nelson: “Conflict and Resolution on Gilded Age Grandeur: The Artistic Program of the Marquette Building Interior,” University of Illinois at Chicago, Master’s Thesis, 2007

As mentioned in the May 22nd posting on this website, the MacNeil Relief Panels in the Marquette Building in Chicago Loop have been restored and reinstalled in the building edifice on Dearborn Street.

The Mackinaw Island Town Crier quoted Ms. Ruth Nelson as observing:

“We really don’t know what Marquette looks like, everyone has a different interpretation.”

In her years of research, Nelson has found that different statues of Fr. Marquette around the Great Lakes feature him differently.  “Some depict him clean-shaven or with a beard, bald or with a full head of hair, and still others feature him with a stern-looking facial expression or a calm demeanor.”

MacNeil chose a young Marquette, clean-shaven and gentle faced in the Reliefs for the Marquette building.  This second sculpture cast in 1926 bears a similar resemblance, particular to MacNeil’s conception of Jesuit priest.

The Marquette and Joliette faces of MacNeil’s 1899 bronze reliefs at the Marquette building in the Loop resemble those likenesses he placed in this larger statue grouping of 1926. {The priest did seem to lose some hair in the 27 year interval.}

The Marquette and Joliette faces of MacNeil's 1899 bronze reliefs at the Marquette building in the Loop resemble those likenesses he placed in this larger statue grouping of 1926. {The priest did seem to lose some hair in the 27 year interval.}

MacNeil's Jolliete image of 1926.

We can thank the B F Ferguson Monument Fund, now administered by the Art Institute of Chicago, for its ongoing completion of Mr Ferguson’s vision of an art-full Chicago.  The MacNeil work comes from the earliest quarter century of the Fund’s comissions, and represents a heroic style of commemoration common to the era.

Only by standing before the sculpture can its massive scale and detail be appreciated as it towers over the boulevards.   This reminder of history and the heroic figures was central to the early wish of BF Ferguson in his 1905 bequest to the Arts in Chicago.


Only by standing before the sculpture can its massive scale and detail be appreciated as it towers over the boulevards. Our trip was a satisfying success as our daughter took our pictures at the foot of the Monument.


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