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 Lakota Sioux

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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The Sun Vow is certainly Hermon Atkins MacNeil’s most visible and famous sculpture. If you ever have a chance to see it, please do so. (Even our best pictures on this website cannot do justice to the detail of this sculpture or to the creativity of the artist.)

Gibson Shell, sent us some “Sun Vow” photos from his recent excursion to NYC.  These photos do provide detail and a truer sense of MacNeil’s careful presentation of these figures and the  Sun Vow ritual.

Hermon MacNeil's "Sun Vow" graces over a dozen museums including the MMA in NYC.

 

These “Sun Vow” poses are from the Metropolitan Museum of Art (73″ – Rogers Fund 1919). The backgrounds have been removed to present MacNeil’s composition without distractions.

Gib is a long-time Beaux Arts photographer — an amateur in the best sense of a ‘devotee, enthusiastic pursuer of any Beaux Arts sculpture.’ Gib has been a generous friend of this website. Dozens of his photos are featured already.  Hundreds more will be seen in future posts.

MacNeil made the “Sun Vow” in Rome as his final requirement for the Roman Rinehart Scholarship. The sculpture is signed with ‘RRS’ designating that commission of the piece. His typical signature “H. A. MacNeil Sc” (Sc for Sculptor~ See Gib’s photo below).

The size of this piece (72-74 measured variously) is the same of those in major museum collections.  Several links on this website (see below and also “MUSEUMS: with MacNeil Art” section in lower right) connect to these “Sun Vows.”  Possibly a dozen of these exist, publicly and privately.

Metropolitan Museum of Art – NYC, NY
Art Institute of Chicago
Phoenix Art Museum ~ Phoenix, AZ (Sun Vow)
The Saint Louis Art Museum ~St. Louis, MO (Reliefs over porch -Sun Vow)

His typical signature "H. A. MacNeil Sc" (Sc for Sculptor). Underneath the initials "RRS" (for "Roman Rinehart Scholarship," his sponsor of study) and the Location of casting "ROME"

Numerous smaller casts (about 36″) and even miniatures authorized by MacNeil himself were cast up until the 1920s.  These also are highly desirable and found in many museums.
Buffalo Bill Historical Center – Cody WY (Sun Vow)
Orlando Museum of Art, Orlando FL
Chrysler Museum of Art – Norfolk, VA

Herman Atkins MacNeil often placed “Sc” behind his signature on sculptures (as seen above, and in other photos on his signature on this website.

According to McSpadden, an article on MacNeil in the Craftsman stated,

“In The Moqui Runner, The Primitive Chant, The Sun Vow, The Coming of the White Man, and many others of his Indian statues, MacNeil always gives you the feeling of the Indian himself, of his attitude toward his own culture of the Sun Vow that MacNeil has memorialized, are a compounded and profound statement of the power of art and artists. vanishing tribes, and his point of view toward the white race which has absorbed his country. It is never the Indian of Buffalo Bill’s Wild West, trapped out for curiosity seekers, but the grave, sad, childlike man of the plains, faithful to his own tribe, once loyal to us, though now resentful; and always a thinker, a poet, and a philosopher.”  (McSpadden lists the following source: “The Art of MacNeil,” Craftsman. September 1909).

( See also: Florence Finch Kelly, “American Bronzes at the Metropolitan Museum: An Important Collection in Process of Formation.” Craftsman, 1907: Volume XI, February 1907, Number 5, pp 545-559.)

 

Dr. Andrew Walker, an associate curator at the St. Louis Art Museum,  has written a chapter in “Shaping the West.” MacNeil’s ‘Sun Vow’ was chosen for the cover photo of that publication by the Denver Art Museum.  Walker’s essay there is entitled: “Hermon Atkins MacNeil and the 1904 World’s Fair: A Monumental Program for the American West.”  Walker has written and presented extensively on MacNeil.

It is all in the faces - the ideals passed to a new generation.

While highlighting the work of Hermon Atkins MacNeil, Dr. Walker illustrates how the 1904 World’s Fair included a monumental sculpture initiative.  He does this with narrative and photo description of the major sculptures that formed the grounds, fountains, waterfalls and buildings of the 1904 Louisiana Purchase Exposition in Saint Louis. The current St. Louis Art Museum (where Walker is a curator) was the “Palace of Fine Arts” conceived by Cass Gilbert,  architect of the fair grounds (and later the US Supreme Court Building).  Over a century later, Mac Neil’s three sculpture relief panels still look down from their vantage point above the three sets of doors at the main entrance.

The 'Sun Vow' at the MMA - NYC - with Daniel Chester French's "Angel of Death" in relief in background (See also Webmaster's <= Comment at left.

 

 

The more I study this sculpture (as other MacNeil pieces?) the more new details I find in MacNeil’s creations.

The photo at right shows MacNeil’s Sun Vow with Daniel Chester French’s “Angel of Death” in the background. French and MacNeil were colleagues and collaborators. The Angel of Death has grasped the hand of the sculptor.  See more of this DCF piece HERE.

Webmaster’s Comment: The beauty and ‘irony’ of the two sculptures together, long after the death of the two sculptors and the vanishing of the culture of the Sun Vow that MacNeil has memorialized, are a compounded and profound statement of the power of art and artists.

 

SOURCES:

  1. SHAPING THE WEST : American Sculptors of the 19th Century. With additional  essays by Alice Levi Duncan, Thayer. Tolles, Peter Hassrick, Sarah E. Boehme, and Andrew Walker.

  2. Florence Finch Kelly, “American Bronzes at the Metropolitan Museum: An Important Collection in Process of Formation.” Craftsman, 1907: Volume XI, February 1907, Number 5, pp 545-559.)


"The Coming of the White Man" ~ MacNeil posed Black Pipe, the Sioux Warrior in Buffalo Bill's Wild West Show that he befriended after the 1893 Chicago Fair. (Antique Postcard courtesy of Gil Shell)

For our

Second MacNeil Postcard

we have selected  a re-run of this very old

color rendered photograph of the

“Coming of the White Man.”

Photo file courtesy of Gil Shell

This monument in Portland has a twin on the east coast in NYC that is in the Poppenhusen Institute in College Point, Queens, NYC.

This second statue is just down the street from Hermon A. MacNeil Park and the site of his old home and studio in Queens.  The sculpture was donated by Mr. MacNeil to this Cultural Center in his community.  It occupies an honored place in the stage-right corner of the auditorium.

See that twin photo here


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Sculptures that Hermon A. MacNeil’s exhibited for the 1901 Pan-American Exposition in Buffalo, New York.

The above works that Hermon A. MacNeil’s exhibited in Buffalo for the 1901 Pan-American Exposition are listed in:

“The Catalogue of the Exhibition of Fine Arts.” Pan-American Exposition: Buffalo, 1901. (p. 45-46; p. 59).

pp. 45-4. 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.

Some of these people mentioned in that exhibition record were to be long term colleagues, friends and patrons of MacNeil’s art and career.

Charles Francis Browne was a painter and friend who accompanied Hermon MacNeil and author, Hamlin Garland, to the southwest in the summer of 1895. They wanted to gain direct experience of American Indians to inform their art. What the trio found reflected in their respective painting, sculpture and writing.

MacNeil’s subsequent sculptures of Native Americans after that summer of 1895 continued a cultural focus that began with his friendship and sculpting of Black Pipe, the Sioux warrior. He first met Black Pipe at the Buffalo Bill Wild West Show at the Chicago World’s Fair in 1893.  The Sioux modeled for MacNeil and later worked in his studio for over a year.

Edward Everett Ayers was an art patron to both MacNeil and Browne.  He had been a Civil War Calvary officer stationed in the southwestern United States.  He became a lumberman who made a fortune selling railroad ties and telephone poles. He urged MacNeil to travel to see the vanishing West of the American Indian.  He became an arts benefactor whose art collections are now housed by the Art Institute of Chicago, as well as, the Newberry Library.

All the above is but a small part of the history woven into this simple Exhibition catalogue entry from 1901.  More later on Macneil’s mysterious “Agnese.”

Related Images:

 

"The Coming of the White Man" ~ MacNeil posed Black Pipe, the Sioux Warrior in Buffalo Bill's Wild West Show that he befriended after the 1893 Chicago Fair. (Antique Postcard courtesy of Gil Shell)

The 1904 Louisiana Purchase Exposition ~ St. Louis World’s Fair, commemorated the 100th Anniversary of the Louisiana Purchase.

At the 1270 acre Forest Park location and the campus of Washington University the Fair was constructed and the Olympic Games were held.

“Fifteen major exhibition Palaces radiated in fan pattern from central Festival Hall in “setting of lagoons, boulevards, gardens, fountains and sculpture” (1,200 pieces of statuary). Electric light, sign of progress then, used “lavishly” for both decoration and illumination. Featured were motor car, aeronautics and wireless telegraphy–all at their earliest, most exciting stage of development; spotlight on auto which had traveled from New York City to St. Louis, then “an unprece­dented feat and a hazardous journey.” Olympic Games held during Exposition in first concrete stadium built in U.S.”

(http://www.so-calleddollars.com/Events/Louisiana_Purchase_Exposition.html)

For the event, MacNeil exhibited three sculptures: “The Moqui Runner,” “A Primitive Chant,” “The Coming of the White Man” (pictured here from period postcard showing the Portland, Oregon setting.)

On a prominent hill of the Forest Park location, Cass Gilbert designed and build the Palace of Fine Arts.  This one permanent building remains 106 years later as the home of the Saint Louis Art Museum (SLAM).

It also became one of many collaborations of Gilbert and MacNeil over the next 30 year.  The most famous of these would be the last in 1932 – the U.S. Supreme Court Building in Washington, D.C.

Gilbert designed the front entrance of this Palace of Fine Arts to bear six Corinthian columns.  The four central columns frame the three MacNeil reliefs sculptures above the three entrance doors.   Inscribed on his center panel are the words “ARS ARTIUM OMNIUM “roughly meaning, “The art of all arts.”

That panel is pictured here.

"ARS ARTIUM OMNIUM" is a MacNeil creation for the 1904 St Louis Worlds Fair

 

This link below on the SLAM website also offers more detail images of all three panels and the building entrance:

Fine Arts by Macneil in Relief on the SLAM website:

The MacNeil work was a part of that “Palace of Fine Art” and his abilities in the Beaux Arts style seemed to seal his collaborative link to many projects grown from Cass Gilbert’s genius.  The inscription “ARS ARTIUM OMNIUM” translates literally from the Latin as “the Art of all Arts.”

Above the columns of the Saint Louis Art Museum are inscribed the words, “DEDICATED TO ART AND FREE TO ALL – MDCDIII.”  That Free to All spirit remains today in that admission is free through a subsidy from the ZMD.

A New York Times article offers editorial on “free art” http://www.nytimes.com/2006/07/22/arts/design/22admi.html?_r=1

Other works completed by MacNeil for the fair were the “Fountain of Liberty” and the massive sculpture “Physical Liberty.” The artist rendition below shows both.  “Physical Liberty” is the large Buffalo sculpture on the right.  A young woman on the other side accompanies the powerful beast.  Detail photos of the fountain are difficult to attain.  Hopefully, more to Come!

In the meanwhile, Enjoy!

 

Artists View of the Louisiana Purchase Exposition ~ Looking north from the Cascades. The Buffalo figure on the right is MacNeil's "Physical liberty." The Dolphins that stair-step down th the cascades are also MacNeil creations.

The MacNeil sculptures above the main entrance of the Saint Louis Art Museum is a fine example of the Beaux Arts style of World Fairs of this era. (Credit SLAM at http://www.slam.org/).

Hermon Atkins MacNeil's "The Moqui Runner" (The Moqui Prayer for Rain -- The Returning of the Snakes) 1896, cast 1897.

The year was 1895.  Hermon MacNeil, along with two friends (painter, Charles Francis Browne, and author, Hamlin Garland), spent the summer traveling and living in the Territories of New Mexico and Arizona.  There they sought direct experience among the Indians that would give birth in them to a new, truly American art.  “The Indian caught my fancy as it had with many young sculptors,” wrote H.A. MacNeil in his “Autobiographical Sketch.” They became eye-witnesses to the life and culture of the Hopi (formerly known as Moki, and Moqui) people.

“We found Indians a plenty and perhaps because I was keenly interested in them I was in heaven and I flared to a high pitch, working from sunrise to dark,” wrote the twenty-nine year old MacNeil. Like many ethnologists of that period, the Snake Dance deeply impacted his cultural awareness and artistic curiosity.

The Snake Dance ritual involved fifty or more men and lasted for ten days.  As a part of the ceremony the priests would dance with live snakes in their months (presumably making the reptiles the bearers of the prayers of the priests).   The climax of the ceremony involved a four mile run returning the snakes (now endued with prayers) to their natural home.

The long black locks streaming in the wind follow the runners path back to nature and the ancestors.

“There was something superb in all this,” wrote Garland in his “Among the Moki.” Something natural, strong, and wholesome.” Garland described the Runners, with their black hair flowing down over their shoulders, “They ran with the chest thrown out and with light step, which only three hundred years of daily climbing to and fro on this cliff could give.  It was like seeing one of the old Greek games.” (Among the Moki).

MacNeil never forgot the indelible visions of these moments in his artist’s eye. He writes, “Every artist has at various times strong impressions that he longs to express. The sensation received by me from this dance was without doubt the deepest I had received. There was an abandon, fury, and sincerity.”

One reviewer of MacNeil’s work from this period captures their energy and abandon by saying:

MacNeil captures the energy and fury of the ceremonial "Return of the Snakes" in the grip and gaze of the runner.

“In sculpture those fresh, spirited Indians, by H. A. MacNeil, are so strong and full of vigor that they command at once one’s admiration and respect. The strongly developed and “straight-as-an-arrow style”surely marks the Indian as nature’s nobleman.  MacNeil knows just how to bring out their striking characteristics, and even on a small scale the work is grandly conceived.” (Sculptors at the American Art Exhibition.” Arts for America 4 (November 1895) p. 150.)

Snake Dance – For a short history see:http://www.brownielocks.com/snakedance.html

HISTORY NOTE: MacNeil’s experience with the Hopi follows less than five years after tragic deaths of December 1890 — namely, Wounded Knee Massacre — The killing of Chief Sitting Bull and the murder of Chief Big Foot.  For more details of this history view”

http://www.lastoftheindependents.com/wounded.htm and

Wikipedia http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wounded_Knee_Massacre

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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
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