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 MacNeil’s Lincoln bust

I never met Hermon MacNeil.

I never met my maternal grandfather, Tom Henry McNeil.  

ALL OF LIFE and our family histories are filled with people we HAVE NEVER MET.

In 2014 I wrote an article for the MacNeil Clan Magazine,

The Galley.

I include the the pages and the text of that article below in this post:

The photos can also be viewed in this previous post. 

Hermon Atkins MacNeil – American Sculptor – (1866-1947)

MacNeil Clan history, like all family history, is filled with people we have never met.  One MacNeil who has always fascinated me is Hermon Atkins MacNeil.  Researching “Uncle” Hermon has also led me to another amazing man, Robert Lister MacNeil. Both men were present when the Clan MacNeil Association was formed ninety-three years ago. 

MacNeil kinsman.

On May 26, 1921, the Clan MacNeil Association of America was organized in New York City.  Central to that moment were Robert Lister MacNeil, (The MacNeil of Barra – 45th Chief of the Clan), and Hermon Atkins MacNeil, a sculptor, who served as the clan’s first president.  At that time, Robert Lister was 32 years of age, a practicing architect in New York City, and a veteran of the First World War. He had succeeded to the chiefship of the Clan MacNeil just six years earlier.  His dreams of the Isle of Barra and restoring Kisimul Castle (as told in his book The Castle in the Sea) were but faint hopes that would await decades and the efforts of many MacNeils for their accomplishment.

Dan “Neil” Leininger in a MacNeil kilt at Kisimul Castle, Isle of Barra, Scotland 2014. WHAT A TOUR it was!!!

His other kinsman was Hermon Atkins MacNeil. Hermon was the older of the two, an accomplished sculptor, also practicing in New York City, he had already created a myriad of statues, sculptures, monuments, as well as, the U.S. Standing Liberty Quarter first minted in 1916.  Although these two MacNeils were 23 years apart in age, they were both trained in Paris at the Ecole des Beaux Arts, a school for architects and sculptors in the Classic Greco-Roman styles.  A lasting bond between them formed through their shared artistic talents, professional skills, and years of Clan MacNeil activity.

Hermon MacNeil designed a bronze plaque that was unveiled and dedicated on May 28, 1928 on the campus of Flora MacDonald College in Red Springs, NC. The plaque commemorated the 1735 landing of Neil MacNeil of Jura, Scotland with 350 followers.  This group made up mostly of clan members landed at the Cape Fear Settlement in North Carolina. The plaque was placed on a red granite stone and marked another clan project shared by these two men.

In his later years, Robert Lister stated: “Hermon was an outstanding sculptor and one of my dearest friends all the rest of his life.”  In 1970, six years after publishing those words, Robert Lister MacNeil died at the age of 81.  Twenty-three years earlier (in 1947), Hermon Atkins MacNeil had died, also at the same age of 81.  All of the above was discovered as I “searched for Uncle Hermon.” I never met either of these two MacNeil men. The more I learn of them both, the more striking I find the parallels in their lives.

MacNeil roots. The third MacNeil man that I never met was my own grandfather, Tom Henry McNeil (1860-1932). Whenever my mother spoke of her father or of her “Uncle Hermon,” I would see a certain smile on her face and a sparkle in her eye.  Emotionally, recalling her McNeil memories seemed to take her to “a very pleasant place.” On the MacNeil family tree, her father and Hermon MacNeil were first cousins. But “Uncle Hermon” was what the whole family always called him and what he always considered himself to be. Though she did not share them often, my mother’s stories instilled in me a sense of “wonder” about these two “MacNeil” men. 

Genetically, my mother gave all of us six children her MacNeil biology, but when I first realized that my parents also gave me the middle name of “Neil,” I felt some extra portion of my Scottish ancestry. That feeling has only grown as I get older.  My grandfather McNeil died before I was born.  I was just two years old when Hermon MacNeil died.  Now as an old man myself this MacNeil heritage and my memories of the sparkle in mother’s eyes have expanded my interest in these three MacNeils, and in the many other MacNeils that I have yet to meet.

MacNeil pursuits. So I am pursuing my MacNeil Clan interests in several ways.  In 2010 I formally began searching for “Uncle Hermon” by building a “digital gallery” of the life and work as a sculptor. I built HermonAtkinsMacNeil.com, a website dedicated to making his sculpture and career available to the world. A web search of the name “Hermon MacNeil” will take you there.  His sculptures, statues, monuments are scattered from Washington, DC to Portland, Oregon, and from New York City to Gallup, New Mexico.  Now this virtual gallery features over 500 photos and 125 stories of Hermon MacNeil’s life and work.  There you can see his statues of George Washington from Washington Arch, NYC; Ezra Cornell at Cornell University, William McKinley at Columbus, Ohio; Abraham Lincoln at Champaign, Illinois; Pony Express at St. Joseph, Missouri; Pere Marquette in Chicago; and monuments in Philadelphia, Charleston, Albany, and Flushing, and dozens of other cities.

In 2013 I became a member of the Clan MacNeil Association of America.  I did not know its existence until I saw the 1928 news story of the MacNeil plaque dedication in Red Springs.  For the last three yearsI have shared “MacNeil stories” at our annual family reunion of my siblings and our children and grand children.  In August 2013 I went to my first Highland Festival. My nephew in Colorado  told me about the attended the Longs Peak Scottish Irish Highland Fest in Estes Park.  What a great celebration of Celtic pride and heritage.

Donna and I have booked our spots on the 2014 MacNeil Clan Tour of Scotland.  We reserved our passage before I received the Fall/Winter issue of The Galley with Rory MacNeil’s invitation to the World Gathering of the Clan MacNeil on the Isle of Barra from August 4-7, 2014.  We hope to meet some of you there this summer.

  1. I joined Clan MacNeil Association I have attended the 2013 Estes Park Highland Fest
  2. I have booked spots for Donna and I on the 2014 MacNeil Clan Tour of Scotland
  3. I continue to research HAM

July 21, 2011. The restored bust on display at the Spurlock Museum at University of Illinois. After a thorough cleaning and patina restoration, MacNeil’s Lincoln bust went on public display for one year in the Spurlock Museum. This was the first showing of the piece in full circle — 360 degree visibility.

     MacNeil’s Abe Lincoln (above) was cleaned and the patina restored in 2011 when Lincoln Hall was reconstructed for its 100th Anniversary.  

     After six years back in his old niche in the east foyer entrance of beautiful Lincoln Hall, I was curious about how much wear Lincoln’s “lucky nose” had sustained from student caresses on their way to exams and classes.

     So, while traveling to visit family in Kentucky, Virginia, and NC in July 2017, we made opportunity to spend the night in Urbana, Illinois. We turned very appropriately onto “Lincoln Street” off of I-74 and found a motel for the night.  

The next morning (Monday, July 31st) we ventured off toward the restored Lincoln Hall on the University of Illinois campus.  Wiggling through blocks of summer street construction into Wright Street, we parked and walked toward the Main Quad.

Larado Taft’s Alma Mater

Lorado Taft’s powerful allegorical grouping “Alma Mater” (with Learning and Labor) at the corner of Eighth and Wright Street greeted us.  (Taft was the alumnus who recommended MacNeil’s bust of Lincoln over other artists considered for placement in the Hall in 1924.) For More on Taft click HERE

We met an alumnae who had dropped her son off for summer workshops.  She asked us to take her picture with the Alma Mater behind her.  Turned out she was originally from Beresford, SD and planned to retire in the Black Hills. Small world.

Abe Lincoln’s nose has a well worn shine again. The patina restoration in 2011 has given way to the”petting” and “well wishes of 100’s of hands” seeking blessings from Old Honest Abe.

We walked into the old quadrangle at the  center of campus.  Walking the brick walks of the lush green lawn. we arrived at the east entrance of Lincoln Hall. We stopped to admire the terra-cotta bas-relief panels placed above the high windows of the building. They depict scenes from the life of the prairie lawyer memorialized in this beautiful hall.

The restored East Foyer of Lincoln Hall with its gilded vaulted ceiling and columns makes a dramatic setting for Hermon A. MacNeil’s bust of Abraham 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.

Entering the East Foyer, we could see the Lincoln bust before us.  The magnificent Beaux Arts style of the ceiling formed a vaulted arch spanning above the wings of the white marble stairs and landing.  This splendidly restored foyer dominated the life-size bust of our sixteenth President centered on the landing in its gold-leafed niche.

The tradition of touching Lincoln’s nose for “good luck” has passed on to another generation of Illini students since the restoration.

Even from the doorway a “bronze glow” could be glimpsed on Abe Lincoln’s nose.  He was wearing his well-worn shine again. As predicted, the brown patina of the 2011 restoration had given way to the”petting” and “well wishes of 100’s of hands” seeking blessings from Old Honest Abe.  The tradition has carried on to Lincoln Hall’s second century.

The bronze relief plaque containing the words of the Address at Gettysburg was on our right.  The gold gilding of the column capitals and the rosettes in the vaulted arch of the ceiling, gave an inspiring elegance to this hall of remembrance.

In the elegance of this hallowed hall, Abe’s “accessible nose” adds a tactile legacy and fitting tribute to learning in the “Land of Lincoln.

Hermon MacNeil was the first president of the Clan MacNeil Association of America.  This summer, the Galley will contain a feature article about him, written by Dan Leininger, webmaster of this website — HermonAtkinsMacNeil.com.

"The Galley" Spring/Summer 2013; Clan MacNeil Association of America

“The Galley” Spring/Summer 2013; Official Publication of the Clan MacNeil Association of America

The previous posting of February 8, 2013, entitled, “MacNeil Kinsman ~ Hermon Atkins MacNeil and Robert Lister MacNeil,” tells part of the story of these two men.

Vicki Sanders Corporon, editor of the Galley, has accepted the article and accompanying photos that tell more of the story. She said in recent correspondence:

“Thanks for sending such excellent photos of Hermon’s sculptures. I know their inclusion, along with your article, will be the highlight of the upcoming issue! He really was one of America’s finest sculptors … how important is your mission to make sure he is fully appreciated!”

Sculpture photos of the Supreme Court (East Pediment); George Washington from the Washington Arch in NYC; Abraham Lincoln from University of Illinois; Ezra Cornell at Ithaca; Confederate Defenders Monument (1932) Charleston harbor, SC; and George Rogers Clark at Vincennes will illustrate the story.

On May 26, 1921, the Clan MacNeil Association of America was organized in New York City.  Central to that moment were Robert Lister MacNeil, (The MacNeil of Barra – 45th Chief of the Clan), and Hermon Atkins MacNeil, the clan’s first president.

Stay tuned for more as the publication is released. 

HAM-Lincoln-bust-plaster-full

Finishing touches clean the marble niche where MacNeil’s Lincoln bust will greet Illini students in Lincoln Hall

A 1958 photo of lawyer Abe Lincoln as he appeared at the time of the debates with Senator Stephen Douglas

A 1958 photo of lawyer Abe Lincoln (with NO beard) as he appeared at the time of the debates with Senator Stephen Douglas and as MacNeil portrayed him.

Hermon MacNeil’s bronze bust of self-educated Illinois Lawyer Abe Lincoln was returned to its gloriously restored niche in Lincoln Hall on the University of Illinois campus in Champaign-Urbana to begin its second century on the Illinois Circuit of higher education.

The Smithsonian Institute archives contain this photo of MacNeil's Lincoln standing.

MacNeil’s standing Lincoln model from the Smithsonian Institute photo archives. The piece was made for a commission competition after 1906.

MacNeil originally sculpted a full length, standing model of the Illinois Lawyer that he later re-sculpted as a bust. From that piece he had Roman Bronze Works make eight castings of his Lincoln Lawyer. In 1928 at the recommendation of Lorado Taft, the University of Illinois purchased this one of the MacNeil sculptures of the younger Lincoln

In 1929, MacNeil’s work provided an iconic centerpiece for the Grand Stairway foyer of newly designed building.  On February 12, 2012, the restored bust was returned to its original niche, in the beautifully renovated Lincoln Hall.

For MORE history on the “Lawyer Lincoln” CLICK HERE

PHOTOS and MORE:  The lead photo above and three photos below are from the website of the Lincoln Hall Renovation (CLICK HERE) project at the University of Illinois.  They show the re-installation of MacNeil’s work.  The University has now completed the $66.4 million dollar restoration (Fact Sheet) of Lincoln Hall.  [SEE MORE MacNeil-Lincoln history below the photos]:

MacNeil's restored bust of young Abe Lincoln was bolted to a marble plate that could be cemented into place.

MacNeil’s restored bust of young Abe Lincoln was bolted to a marble plate that could be cemented into place.

 

The work crew of masons set the MacNeil's Lincoln bust back into the niche at the Grand Staircase of Lincoln Hall

The work crew of masons set the MacNeil’s Lincoln bust back into the niche at the Grand Staircase of Lincoln Hall

HAM-Lincoln-bust-sweep-full

A worker sweeps the marble stairs of Lincoln Hall foyer as photographers get set to record the return of Hermon MacNeil’s bust of young Lawyer Abe Lincoln to its perch where a second century of Illini students will pass by.

Art and museum records locate four of MacNeil’s eight “Lincoln Lawyer” castings. the  others “Lincoln Lawyer” busts by MacNeil appear incomplete as follows:

The fact that MacNeil made a “Lincoln Lawyer” statue was catalogued 60 years ago, along with the Lincoln likenesses sculpted by over 125 other sculptors.   Donald Charles Durman assembled a “List of Sculptures of Abraham Lincoln” in his 1951 book, “He Belongs to the Ages: The Statues of Abraham Lincoln” (published by Edwards Brothers, Ann Arbor, Michigan, 1951).  The Smithsonian American Art Museum inventory lists only 3 locations of MacNeil’s other Lincoln busts.  The University of Illinois bust of Lincoln is NOT listed among them.  Thus, four of the eight are documented publicly.  The Smithsonian records indicate the following listings:
  1. University of Pennsylvania, Office of the Curator, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania – Control_Number: 77001611
  2. Beloit College, Wright Museum of Art, Beloit, Wisconsin – Control_Number: 75008855
  3. Amherst College, Mead Art Museum, Amherst, Massachusetts: Control_Number: 20090014
  4. Amherst College, Mead Art Museum, Amherst, Massachusetts 01002 Accession Number: S.1932.4            Source: Smithsonian American Art Museum ~ SIRIS
Lincoln Bible and king Bible as Barack Obama takes Oath (http://www.theyeshivaworld.com)

Lincoln Bible and king Bible as Barack Obama takes Oath (http://www.theyeshivaworld.com)

On this Presidential Inaugural Day, the 57th in our history, President Barack H. Obama will take the Oath of the Office of President of the United States.  He will place his hand on two Bibles.  One used by President Abraham Lincoln,  and a second belonging to Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr, whose birthday is also celebrated on this today.  This Inaugural Day comes fifty years after M. L. King spoke at the Civil Rights March at the Lincoln Memorial and 150 years after the Emancipation Proclamation. 

THEREFORE, in tribute to this historic day, we offer images of the three Presidents of the United States that Hermon Atkins MacNeil sculpted in his lifetime ~~ George Washington, Abraham Lincoln and William McKinley.

Washington and 'Valor' in profile

Washington and ‘Valor’ in profile

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

A visit to Illinois last week included a stop at the Abe Lincoln bust at Spurlock Museum  at U of I.  The sculpture will no longer be viewable in-the-round after being returned to its permanent home in the sparklingly-restored Lincoln Hall on campus.

A visit to Illinois in 2011 included a stop at the Abe Lincoln bust at Spurlock Museum at U of I. The sculpture will no longer be viewable in-the-round after being returned to its permanent home in the sparklingly-restored Lincoln Hall on campus

MacNeil originally sculpted a standing model of the Illinois Lawyer that he later re-sculpted as a bust.  From that piece he had Roman Bronze Works make eight castings of his Lincoln Lawyer.  This one is at the University of Illinois and will be returned to the Lincoln Hall when renovation is completed.  (For more on Lincoln busts see below.)

The Smithsonian Institute archives contain this photo of MacNeil's Lincoln standing.

The Smithsonian Institute archives contain this photo of MacNeil’s Lincoln standing.

Hearmon A. MacNeil's "Lincoln Lawyer" at the University of Illinois

Hermon A. MacNeil’s “Lincoln Lawyer” at the University of Illinois

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

McKinley Statue in Columbus, Ohio.

McKinley making his last public speech. before he was assassinated, Buffalo, New York, September 5, 1901. (His pose in this photo resembles that of MacNeil's statue of him in 1904). (Credit: Frances B. Johnson-Ohio Historical Society-AL00501)

McKinley making his last public speech. before he was assassinated, Buffalo, New York, September 5, 1901. (His pose in this photo resembles that of MacNeil’s statue of him in 1904). (Credit: Frances B. Johnson-Ohio Historical Society-AL00501)

MacNeil's McKinley at Ohio Statehouse plaza

MacNeil’s McKinley at Ohio Statehouse plaza

 

 

MORE on MacNEIL’s BUSTS of LINCOLN: Art and museum records locate four of MacNeil’s eight “Lincoln Lawyer” castings.  Public records of the four other “Lincoln Lawyer” busts by MacNeil appear to be incomplete according to the following documentation by the Smithsonian Museum:

The fact that MacNeil made a “Lincoln Lawyer” statue was catalogued 60 years ago, along with the Lincoln likenesses sculpted by over 125 other sculptors.   Donald Charles Durman assembled a “List of Sculptures of Abraham Lincoln” in his 1951 book, “He Belongs to the Ages: The Statues of Abraham Lincoln” (published by Edwards Brothers, Ann Arbor, Michigan, 1951).  The Smithsonian American Art Museum inventory lists only 3 locations of MacNeil’s other Lincoln busts.  The University of Illinois bust of Lincoln is NOT listed among them.  Thus, four of the eight are documented publicly.  The Smithsonian records indicate the following listings:
  1. University of Pennsylvania, Office of the Curator, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania – Control_Number: 77001611
  2. Beloit College, Wright Museum of Art, Beloit, Wisconsin – Control_Number: 75008855
  3. Amherst College, Mead Art Museum, Amherst, Massachusetts: Control_Number: 20090014
  4. Amherst College, Mead Art Museum, Amherst, Massachusetts 01002 Accession Number: S.1932.4

Source: Smithsonian American Art Museum ~ SIRIS

In the early 1900s, because of his knowledge and authorship on American Sculpture, Lorado Taft was referred to by many as ‘the Dean of American Sculpture.’   He offered early praise for Hermon Atkins MacNeil.  His admiration of MacNeil’s work continued into the 1920s when he recommended MacNeil’s “Lawyer Lincoln” bust to the University Of Illinois to grace the spiral entry foyer of Lincoln Hall.

In Chapter XXIII of his volume “THE HISTORY OF AMERICAN SCULPTURE” (originally published in 1903), Taft offers the following praise of the young MacNeil:

THE YOUNGER GENERATION IN NEW YORK

 The opening twentieth century brings before us a group of young sculptors equipped by nature and by training as in the past few Americans have been. …

One of the most promising of this number is Hermon A. MacNeil.

Marquette Panel #4 (detail)

Well equipped with the training which the Parisian studios give, Mr. MacNeil was early discontented with the banality of modern sculptural themes. The makeshift subjects of his comrades seemed to him unworthy. He wanted to do things more original and more truly expressive. Western life and the Indian had for him a great appeal, and he made several trips to the redman’s reservations north and west, in order to study what he considered the most sculptural motifs which America offers.

His reliefs over the doors of the Marquette building in Chicago — scenes of the life and death [ p. 437 > p. 438 ] of Pere Marquette — show to what good use he put his material. He was wont to talk of the artistic possibilities of the Indian in sculpture with an enthusiasm that was eloquent if not always convincing. To him they were as fine as Greek warriors and as worthy to be immortalized. …

More of Taft’s critique on H. A. MacNeil will be offered in upcoming postings on HermonAtkinsMacNeil.com.

WHAT YOU FIND HERE.

Nearby or far away, there is no ONE place to go and appreciate this wide range of art pieces. Located in cities from east to west coast, found indoors and out, public and hidden, these creations point us toward the history and values in which our lives as Americans have taken root.

Webmaster: Daniel Neil Leininger ~ HAMacNeil@gmail.com
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WE DESIRE YOUR DIGITAL PHOTOS – Suggestions

1. Take digital photos of the entire work from several angles, including the surroundings.
2. Take close up photos of details that capture your imagination.
3. Look for MacNeil’s signature, often on bronze works. Photograph it too! See examples above.
4. Please, include a photo of yourself and/or those with you standing beside the work.
5. Add your comments or a blog of your adventure. It adds personal interest for viewers.
6. Send photos to HAMacNeil@gmail.com Contact me there with any questions. ~~ Webmaster