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 MacNeil Month

 

 

Jo Davidson, Sculptor, 1937

Hermon A. MacNeil sketch by Charles D. Daughtrey.

Jo Davidson

started as a

“studio boy” for

Hermon MacNeil

in 1903.

NOW,

February 2021  

MacNeil Month 

will showcase

FOUR Stories of

“Hermon and Jo”

from their nearly fifty years of friendship.

PLUS A SURPRISE BIRTHDAY

UNVEILING  on  February 27th !!!

~  ~  ~  ~  ~  ~  ~

STORY # 1  

Jo Davidson ~ begins here …

From his late teen-years to his mid twenties,

Jo appears as a talented, outgoing, vagabond.  

A vagabond can be defined as …

  • an itinerant,  a wanderer, a nomad,
  • a wayfarer, a traveler, a gypsy
  • a person who wanders
  • from place to place
  • without a home or job.
Home Life
In Between Sittings, his autobiography, Jo sculpts his early home life in shapes of restlessness, rovering, and hunger. 
“I was born on New York’s lower East Side and the memories of early youth are vague and shadowy. I remember long, dark halls, crowded tenements, strange sour smells, drab unpainted walls and moving — we were always moving. … we were exceedingly poor and often didn’t have enough to eat.”Between Sittings, p. 3.
 Samantha Baskind tells Jo’s story this way: Davidson was born in the ghetto of New York’s Lower East Side to immigrant parents who had fled the Russian pogroms Encyclopaedia Judaica.
[ def.: pogroms: ethnic cleansing, persecutions, massacres, exterminations, slaughter …]
Jo “was the youngest of five children in a household of greatly limited means.”  “He had a step-brother, George, and three sisters; Nancy, Rachel, and Rose.”2
Jo’s parents had real fears and emotional scars from the traumas of those anti-Jewish persecutions in Russia.  After his parents emigrated to the U.S., Jo was born in New York City on March 30, 1883.  Jo inherited a restless wanderer’s spirit as a an offspring of terrorized generations “who had fled the Russian pogroms”  MORE.
Jo’s father, Jacob, was Jewish and a man “who lived completely within himself.” His father was “orthodox, self-absorbed, and more intent on religion than on his family.”2   He believed in miracles and fanatically hoped to hold the winning ticket in some lottery.  His father’s friends teased Jacob asking if he would rather have a SON or win a MILLION dollar lottery. So after Jo was born, he was nicknamed by friends and family, “The Million.” 
“Father had beautiful eyes, a long white beard, and the face of a prophet.  I can still see him moving about the house almost like a spirit.  He was always praying and a sign of affection from him was a rarely given luxury.” *  Between Sittings, p. 3.  and  Joel Rosenkranz, Rediscoveries…, p. 11.
Jo went with his Father, Jacob, to synagogue on Saturdays, but kept out of his way for fear of offending him. When he asked “where did Cain get his wife?” his Father father smacked him down by stating that “with God everything is possible.”
Jacob Davidson, definitely had plans and ambitions for his son.  The MILLION became the sarcastic “BRIS”  label of blessing for Jacob’s only son.  That moniker became a life-long label in Jo’s Life.  Seven decades later, Jo entitled Chapter 1 of his autobiography, “THE MILLION!”  Even after his death, Lois Harris Kuhn in her biography,The World of Jo Davidson, offered her young Jewish readers the following explanation:
“No one was ever to know for certain what it was that Jacob Davidson thought that having a son meant.  Whatever it was, it was obvious  — almost right away — that Jo was unlike anyone his father had expected.  In Fact, Jo was like no one else.  He asked far to many questions.  He made pictures of everything he saw. He was so filled with life and laughter that everyone around him responded to it.  Everybody — everything — small or large — interested Jo.!  It was a good thing for a boy that his mother, Haya, understood him completely. ” [ Kuhn, The World of Jo Davidson, Farrar, Straus and Cudahy, Jewish Publication Society, New York, 1958. p. 4.]
Jo’s personality was much like his mother, Haya, (nee: Getzoff) “was full of an unquenchable fire that brought life to everything around her… .”
“She was tiny, energetic, practical, the one on whom the whole family leaned.  The Davidson’s were exceedingly poor and often didn’t get enough to eat.  She would distract the family from their hunger with her wonderful story telling of her past life in Russia, her grandfather who adored her and raised her, and their father’s family filled with scholars and rabbis.” Between Sittings, p. 3,
She was a wonderful cook, could stretch a half-pound of meat into a dozen mouths.  Food was very scarce, but restlessness flourished.
“It is curious how little I remember of my school days. I was always in a dream, vague and lazy.  I understand now — being underfed, I wanted to sleep all the time.
Yet for all their poverty,  Jo recalls the touch of “a warm glow which came from my mother (Haya) and sisters (Nancy, Rachel, and Rose) who surrounded me with love and affection.”
Between Sittings, p. 3, 6. And Joel Rosenkranz, Rediscovderies
A Train Wreck of JOBS
The needs of the family forced Jo to leave school in his teens. What followed were a series of itinerant, dead-end tasks.  He first got a job as an apprentice to a house-painter and paperhanger.  He worked 12 hour a day, preparing pots and paints in the mornings and washing up and cleaning brushes after returning from jobs. “I don’t remember how I lost that job, but I did,”
 
What followed was a succession of endeavors: messenger boy at Western Union, office boy at a weekly, and errand boy at a bookstore.  Each job ran off the tracks, as he worked too fast for fellow piece-workers, or then slowed down, and got fired by the boss. 
 
When he got board he would sit and sketch, friends, cats, anything in sight. When he sketched other messenger boys, they told him “Jo, you are wasting your time, you ought to get a job at a newspaper.”  In between jobs, he hung around art galleries, or visited the afternoon drawing class at the Educational Alliance. Eventually the idea of becoming an artist appealed to him.
 
Talent Leads the Way
His sister, Rachie, was teaching public school.  She showed some of Jo’s sketches  to an interested friend who obtained a year’s tuition for Jo at the Art Students League. He enrolled in evening classes becoming the youngest member of the live class drawing from nude living models.   There he also met a friend, Waterbury, who taught pyrography — burning in sketches on leather with a pyrographic needle.  He mastered the technique and could sell piece work for good pay. 
 
He continued evening drawing classes at the Art Students League.  On weekends he would go to a country sketch club and on Sundays he would paint on Richmond Hill on Staten Island.  He said his paintings were timid and pale.  One in a discussion group he was asked if he could shut his eyes and mentally see a desired color, red, blue, yellow.  Jo recalls, ” I tried and tried but all my concentration produced nothing and it was then that I decided I was not a painter.” Between Sittings, p. 8-10.

For some time, Jo’s family thought he should become a doctor. So he was sent to New Haven moved in with his sister, Nancy, and her husband, David, a graduate of Yale Medical School.  In between cramming for Regents’ exam, Jo befriended Randall the college photographer. He loaned Jo a photograph of Dr. Arthur Hadley, of Yale University.  Jo  began using his skills to make a burnt wood portrait of the new president.  When Jo finished, Randall displayed it in his storefront window. The next morning Jo returned to the store to find a crowd of people looking in the window at his portrait.  It was marked “sold.”  Jo got a check for $25.

The buyer, Mr. Pardee, requested that Jo visit him in his office.  Seeing the sketchbook in Jo’s pocket, Pardee asked to examine it, then requested permission to show two drawing to the head of the art school.  On seeing the sketches, Professor Neimeyer invited him to come and work in the Art School — tuition free — saying, “We are glad to have young men of talent.” So Jo began drawing a live model with other Art School students. Eventually he sketched the model from so many angles that he tired and lost interest.  Taking a break, he roved through the  building. He found a basement room full of plaster casts and modeling stands, and he walked in. 

Jo finds CLAY and “touches the rest of his life … ”

“I found the clay bin, put my hand in it, and touched the rest of my life. The cool wet stuff gave me a thrill that I had never before experienced.” 

He began building clay on a stand, copying a mask of Saint Francis nearby.  He lost track of time, then was startled when he realized  the modeling instructor, Mr. Boardman, was standing behind him.  The instructor asked how long Jo had studied modeling.  Jo said this was the first time he had touched clay.

He did not seem to believe me, which gave me the feeling it was not too bad.  We talked for a long time and the result was that I decided to chuck medicine and take up sculpture.”  Jo asked who taught sculpture and was given the name of Hermon A. MacNeil.  Between Sittings, p. 8-10.

Hermon MacNeil ~ enters Jo’s life …

JO finds Hermon MacNeil and his College Point Studio.

“By 1903, with his flirtation with a medical career ended, Jo was back in New York working as an assistant in sculptor Hermon Atkins MacNeil’s studio.” RosenKranz, p. 11.

PHASE ONE ~ Jo and Hermon: A previous story on this website tells the next phase the story

CLICK HERE to read the whole saga as Jo described it, 50 years later after Hermon’s death.  Jo relates meeting Hermon, asking for a job, getting turned down, bargaining for pay from a Scotsman … [click link for More]

PHASE TWO ~ Jo and Hermon WORKING in the MacNeil Atlier with Henri Crenier and John Gregory as the studio boy .  => CLICK HERE for full story …

OR JUST READ JO’S ‘PUNCH-LINE’ TO THE STORY BELOW –

Jo FUNNY STORY concludes:  “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.” 

Hermon MacNeil outside his Studio about 1945. [Courtesy of Kenilworth Historical Society & Joel Rosenkranz. Photo by: Violet Wyld

Jo Davidson (about 1922)

NOTE THIS WELL: 

HERMON’S INTERVENTION:  MacNeil did not scold. He did not raise his voice. He did not even tell Jo to stop, for he probably saw the teasing and taunting that the young 18-year-old had taken from the other Assistants, Henri and John.  In essence he said,

“When you feel you are  sufficiently through pummeling Henri Crenier, (my master assistant), would you mix me a little plaster.”  Jo must have found Hermon to be quiet a contrast to his Father whose “signs of affection were rarely given luxuries”  Fifty years later Jo tells the above story in his biography, then concludes with: “The summer passed quickly. Those were rich and full days. I was sure of my vocation. I was going to be a sculptor.”l

Rich and full, the “sculptor to be” went on searching the world for another decade to develop his own style and skills as a sculptor.  Then in the next 40 years, Jo Davidson shaped portrait busts of over a hundred world famous peopleBUT the kindness of Hermon MacNeil seemed to be a pleasant memory.

MORE “HERMON & JO” STORIES TO COME …  on Feb 8th

#2  The Wanderer & The Monument Maker

~~~~

NOTES:

  1.  Jo Davidson, Between Sittings: an informal autobiography of Jo Davidson. Dial Press: New York, 1951. PP. 3.
  2. Connor, Janis and Joel Rosenkranz, photographs by David Finn, Rediscoveries in American Sculpture: Studio Works, 1893 – 1939, University of Texas Press, Austin TX 1989.

SOURCES: 

  • Jo Davidson, Between Sittings: an informal autobiography of Jo Davidson. Dial Press: New York, 1951. PP. 3-16.
  • TIME, “Political Notes: Glamor Pusses.” VOL. XLVIII, No. 11, September 9, 1946. pp
  • Connor, Janis and Joel Rosenkranz, photographs by David Finn, Rediscoveries in American Sculpture: Studio Works, 1893 – 1939, University of Texas Press, Austin TX 1989.
  • Jo Davidson, (1883-1952). Jewish Virtual Library: a project of AICE. Source:  https://www.jewishvirtuallibrary.org/jo-davidson. recovered on Jan 11, 2021.

Why do we celebrate MacNeil Month each February?  Two reasons:

  1. “HAPPY BIRTHDAY” Hermon MacNeil. 

    Hermon A. MacNeil Commemorative sketched by Artist Charles D. Daughtrey as the seventh work in his Series of Coin Designers is available at http://www.cdaughtrey.com/

    Hermon Atkins MacNeil about the time of his Standing Liberty works.

     

    1. February 27 is the 154th anniversary of the birth of Hermon A. MacNeil, born in 1866.  Hermon is the patron-sculptor whose work and life are celebrated at this website – HermonAtkinsMacNeil.com.
  2. “HAPPY BIRTHDAY” Tom Henry McNeil, My grandfather ~ And the older cousin of Hermon MacNeil.

    Thomas (Tom) Henry McNeil (b. 1860 – d. 1932)

    1. February 29 is the Anniversary of the birth of Thomas (Tom) Henry McNeil (my grandfather) born in 1860, one-hundred and sixty years ago.
    2. Tom told his daughters to address “Hermon” as “Uncle Hermon.”  “Uncle” was the title of respect bestowed on their first-cousin-twice-removed.

 “They are still there” celebrates several re-visits and discoveries of MacNeil works made in 2019. This Presidents Day we look again at:

  1. “William McKinley” statue in Columbus, Ohio.

    The Statue of Wm. McKinley stands in front of Ohio Capitol looking out over the city of Columbus. I always marvel at MacNeil’s works all over the U.S. of A.

     

  2. The “Lincoln Lawyer” of Illinois

    Image from the Re-dedication Day of Lincoln Hall at University of Illinois in Champagne-Urbana in 2012.

     

     

     

    This Lincoln Hall image was on the Tee Shirts worn by student-guides on Feb 12, 2012 for the re-opening of the renovated Hall

  3. Washington Square in New York City. 

    General George Washington with Flags (U.S. and POW/MIA) ~ Washington Arch Greenwich, NYC (Photo courtesy of: Gibson Shell – 2011)

    In NYC MacNeil’s likeness of General Washington guards the rear flanks of the Washington Arch.

     

President McKinley was assassinated at the 1902 Pan American Exposition in Buffalo, NY.  MacNeil was an exhibitor and sculpted the Award medal for that Worlds Fair.  He later was awarded the commission for this McKinley Monument at the Ohio Capitol Square in Columbus.

McKinley detail ~ foot of “Industry” – a Blacksmith.

Industry and and his youthful student – allegorical figures in the McKinley grouping.

McKinley quote after taking office in 1900.

“Prosperity” and her her understudy, “Peace”

 

 

Here are three old Photos of the McKinley Monument

Early 1900s Postcard of McKinley Monument.

McKinley grouping in front of Ohio Capitol.

MacNeil’s 1915 “Lincoln” in Lincoln Hall

The restored East Foyer of Lincoln Hall with its gilted vaulted ceiling and columns makes a dramatic setting for Hermon A. MacNeil’s bust of Abrabam Lincoln as the famed prairie lawyer who left Illinois to lead the nation through the War to preserve the Union and the succession South states.

Another of Hermon MacNeil’s “Lincoln Lawyer” was found at the Rushville (Illinois) Public Library. The happy webmaster was pleased to see it and meet the Library staff.  I am sure you recognize Abe Lincoln.  Well the guy smilin’ on the right is me, Dan Leininger [the “happy webmaster of  HAM (https://hermonatkinsmacneil.com/)

MacNeil of Barra tartan

 

 

“They’re Still There!”

That’s the 2020 theme for the tenth year of MacNeil Month. 

We observe each February as MacNeil Month here on HAM.

“They’re Still There!” celebrates several re-visits and discoveries of MacNeil works made in 2019. This years featured visits include:

  1. “The Sun Vow” in New York City and Monmouth, New Jersey. 
  2. “William McKinley” statue in Columbus, Ohio.
  3. Presidents Day – Lincoln and Washington
  4. The Patten Gym at Northwestern University ~ “Intellectual Development” and “Emotional Development”
  5. “The Soldiers and Sailors Monument” in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.

Why do this in February?  Two reasons:

  1. February 27 is the anniversary of the birth of Hermon A. MacNeil, born in 1866, of one-hundred and fifty-four years ago. Hermon is the patron-sculptor whose work and life are celebrated at this website – HermonAtkinsMacNeil.com.
  2. February 29 is the Anniversary of the birth of Thomas (Tom) Henry McNeil (my grandfather) born in 1860, one-hundred and sixty years ago. Tom told his daughters to address “Hermon” as “Uncle Hermon.”  “Uncle” was the title of respect bestowed on their first-cousin-twice-removed.

TODAY marks the  153rd anniversary of the birth

of Hermon Atkins MacNeil

Hermon A. MacNeil Commemorative sketched by Artist Charles D. Daughtrey as the seventh work in his Series of Coin Designers is available at http://www.cdaughtrey.com/

AND THE 10th Year of my Search for “Uncle Hermon”
for whom this website is dedicated.

For a brief summary of his life and work click here for => A Brief Bio of Hermon Atkins MacNeil 

This website also is inspired by the memory of my mother, Ollie McNeil Leininger.

I remember my mother telling me about her “Uncle Hermon.” 

She handed me some Liberty Standing Quarters”  from her grocery change and showed me the little “M” at the left foot of Lady Liberty.

She showed me “The Sun Vow” statue in the Saint Louis Art Museum.  We also visited The Pony Express” statue in St. Joseph, Missouri.  I grew up with a sense of pride and quiet fascination with mom’s “Uncle Hermon” 

I never met “Uncle Hermon”

Hermon A. MacNeil died on October 2, 1947 at the age of 81 years, 7 months, and 8 days.  On the day that he died I was just two years-old.

To read the whole article, Click and open in a separate window

My own Mother died years later in the winter of 1985. At that time, I wrote:

With her passing a warm, safe feeling faded from my world. I was the “baby” of her six children. Her death ushered in feelings of being a midlife orphan who would soon turn forty. Darkness seemed to creep in from the far corners of my life. A strange fearful child inside of me said, “Who will take care of me now?”

 

As the years passed, I would think of mom, and occasionally, of her “Uncle Hermon.”

By the turn of the 2K millennium, computers and the internet had become household items.  This allowed people to hunt, find, and save data.  I found fascinating stories about Hermon Atkins MacNeil. Virtually anything from anywhere could be researched. 

In 2010, I met Dan DeBlock. He is a retired Army Chaplain and Lutheran Minister who builds websites for churches.  It started as a hobby interest and became Leiturgia Communications, Inc. The Host and Tech Support for this website.

One day I asked Dan DeBlock, “Could a website be built as virtual gallery of the sculpture of Hermon Atkins MacNeil?”

Nine years and 170 stories later, “HermonAtkinsMacNeil.com” is the answer to my question and Dan’s hosting.

In that year (2010), I seriously began my “Searching for Uncle Hermon.”

That journey continues.  This is story # 171 – A Birthday Present for Hermon Atkins MacNeil.

This Gallery celebrates Hermon Atkins MacNeil, American sculptor of the Beaux Arts School.

 

This Feb 27th of 2018 marks the 152 Anniversary of the birth of HERMON ATKINS MacNEIL. We celebrate with a little MacNeil history.

American sculptor of hundreds of pieces and monuments all over this country, 1st President of the Clan MacNeil Association of America,

Eight years ago this website started gathering the many images and stories associated with his life and work.  The Clan name traces back to to the Island of Barra in the Western Hebrides of Scotland.

The Kisimul Castle in Castle Bay was restored by the MacNeil of Barra XLV –Robert Lister MacNeil.  The story of the Clan and the Castle are told in his book, Castle in the Sea: The Macneil of Barra XLV, published in 1964.  His son Ian Roderick Macneil, Chief, Clan Macneil, published a revised 2nd edition 1975.

The Kisimul Castle is featured in cameo on this postcard “The Macneil” by Raphael Tuck and Sons. (Publishers to their Majesties the King and Queen) as part of their series “SCOTTISH CLANS.” Series VI; Postcard 9481.

The reverse of this never used postcard contains a Clan history of the two branches of the MacNeils:

No Date is found on the Postcard

MacNeil Chief greets visitors arriving to the Kisimul Castle for the 2014 Gathering of the MacNeil Clan.

The 2014 Gathering of the Clan was celebrated at the Castle and across Barra. I had the priviledge to attend the festivities and to tour Scotland for three weeks with Donna, my wife.  It was a memorable trip of a lifetime and an inauguration of our retirement years.

Webmaster, Daniel Neil Leininger in kilt at Kisimul Castle in the summer of 2014.

 

 

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

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