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 McSpadden

MacNeil Month #3 ~

During his teaching at Cornell, MacNeil saved his money to seek continued art education.  He followed the path of many an artist of his day and left for Europe in 1888.  Settling in Paris, that focus of ambitious art students, he was a pupil of Henri M. Chapu at the Julien Academy. According to Matthews:

Julien’s was actually not one, but numerous schools located in various parts of Paris, all under the dictatorship of Monsieur Julien, a former prizefighter from a small village in the south of France who after studying at the Beaux Arts and enjoying a “succes de scandale” along with Manet and Whistler in 1863 at the Salon des Refus’es, had found his forte in business, first as a promoter of wrestling matches, then, as the novelty of these wore off, as a operator of a studio for artists, which he founded in 1868.”

(Marsha M. Mathews, Henry Ossawa Tanner, American Artist, . Of Chicago Press, 1969, p 62.)

He studied as well with  Alexandre Falguiere at the cole des Beaux Arts.

Palais des Études of the École Nationale Superieur des Beaux-Arts, Paris

This was a two-year period full of inspiration and high hopes, and was only terminated by the depletion of the pennies saved up at Cornell. His return to this country was in the fortunate year of 1893, when the Columbian Exposition at Chicago had created a boom in the art world. MacNeil did not want to go back to teaching in Cornell, so went instead to the Western metropolis. He fell in with Martiny, and helped him with his decorations for various Exposition buildings. (Joseph Walker McSpadden, Famous Sculptors of America, New York, 1924. p. 310)

Henry Ossawa Tanner shared a studio with Hermon MacNeil in Paris in 1893 as they both studied at Julien Academy

Regarding the Paris period, Marsha Mathews, in her autobiography of Henry Ossawa Mathews mentions that Mathews shared studio space at rue de Seine with Hermon A. MacNeil.  Apparently this occurred in the spring of 1893.

Henry Ossawa Mathews was an American painter regarded as a realist focusing on accurate depictions of subjects. His early work, “The Banjo Lesson,” dates from that period of 1893. His later works focused on religious and biblical themes.  Both men were involved with the Columbian Exposition and the Art Institute of Chicago in the years that followed.  Mathews, as a painter, and MacNeil, as a sculptor, were to have no apparent colaboration after that period in Paris.

In his 1924 interview, McSpadden suggests that an artistic strain ran through MacNeil’s family.  “His uncle, Henry Mitchell, was a steel-engraver and gem-cutter, and was versed in heraldry.”

He quotes Hermon,

“My mother painted … but it was the usual copy work of the good old days, when every girl was expected to have an accomplishment, and most of them did samplers.  She evidently liked her painting, as I still have one of her pictures.” (p. 309)

MacNeil’s own skills and art interests seemed to have developed early on.  He explained to McSpadden:

How did I come to take up art? I fell into it naturally. I remember that as a boy in my teens, attending the public schools, I looked forward eagerly to Friday afternoon; for then it was that we had our one art class each week. It wasn’t much to boast of — just some cubes and such like inanimate objects for pencil drawings on paper, but I thought it was great.” (p. 309)

He told of a “trivial little incident” when the teacher left the room.  Upon his return, most of the class was “skylarking” (frolicking, playing, boisterously).   Displeased, the teacher admonished the class.  Then he walked the aisle looking at drawings.  Singling out several students, including Hermon, he said,

‘Now if you would turn out good work like this and this‘ —  and yes, yours too’ (to Hermon). As MacNeil shared this account some 40 years after the incident, he told McSpadden, “I had only been included in a general commendation, but that little remark has stuck with me to this day.” (p. 309-10)

At Hermon’s urgent request, his parents sent him to State Normal Arts School in 1886.  In that year, the new Massachusetts Normal Art School building was constructed at the corner of Newbury and Exeter Streets (See map in Jan 27th posting below).

MassArt - present day Massachusetts College of Art and Design was established in 1873 as Boston Normal Art School.

“I told my parents it was what I wanted to do above everything else.” It was a stiff four-years’ course, where everything was taught in the line of art — painting draftsmanship, drawing for mathematical and engineering subjects, architecture and sculpture, — and MacNeil took them all.  it was not until the last year that he reached sculpture, and by that time he had determined that this was what he wanted to make his life-work.  “I went through the whole gamut, and the further I went the more it laid hold of me,” he avers. (p. 310)

Source:  Joseph Walker, Famous Sculptors of America, pp. 307-326.

One month from today, February 27, 2011 will mark the 145th Anniversary of the birth of Hermon Atkins MacNeil. We here at HermonAtkinsMacNeil.com will be celebrating February as MacNeil Month.

Hermon A. MacNeil Commemorative by Artist C. Daughtrey is available at http://www.cdaughtrey.com/

Hermon A. MacNeil Commemorative by Artist C. Daughtrey is available at http://www.cdaughtrey.com/

We will be with posting information about the sculptor’s early life history (such as is available).BIRTH: Hermon was  born in 1866.  Most sources say in Chelsea, Massachusetts, now an inner urban suburb of Boston, the capital city.  Chelsea borders Boston Harbor  only about three miles from what is now Logan International Airport.  The Chelsea area is much like the little peninsula of College Point in Queens, New York where Mac Neil would later set up his New York studio home in about 1904.)

In a 1924 interview with Hermon at the College Point studio, J. Walker McSpadden stated that the sculptor was born “at Plattville near Chelsea.” Plattville is 40 miles south of Chelsea and 35 miles south of Boston.   Even more sources associate “Hermon MacNeil” with ‘Everett’ Massachuesetts.  Just Googling those 3 words gave me 6 hits for Everett MA as his birthplace. Whether he was born in Plattville and moved shortly after is unclear.  There are MANY MacNeil’s in this area of Massachusetts and surrounding New England (or should I say ‘New Scotland?’).  Perhaps Hermon was born at the home of grandparents or other relatives.  What is clear is that for the next 26 years he would live, grow, and study in immediate area of Chelsea/ Boston .

At the age of 20, he received his first formal training in the arts at the Normal Art School in Boston in 1886.  According to the timeline for MassArt on Wikipedia this was the same year that the new art school building was opened:

A current Google Streetview of this corner shows a quaint old city neighborhood.   The old stone building on the northeast corner of the intersection says “First Spiritual Temple,” a Spiritualist church. According to wikipedia:

On the corner of Exeter and Newbury Street—the address is given both as 181 Newbury Street and as 26 Exeter Street—is a striking building designed by Boston architects Hartwell and Richardson in the Romanesque Revival style. It was originally built in 1885 as the First Spiritual Temple, a Spiritualist church. In 1914 it became a movie theater, the Exeter Street Theatre.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Newbury_Street_%28Boston%29

NEXT WEEK: MORE ABOUT MacNeil”s EARLY YEARS AT HOME AND BOSTON.

In the meanwhile find more about MacNeil on our website at:

https://hermonatkinsmacneil.com/about-2/

Here is a Google Map of the corner of Newbury and Exeter Streets in Boston.  Enjoy lookin’ around!

[mappress mapid=”16″]


In 1924, Joseph Walker McSpadden interviewed Hermon A. MacNeil at his College Point studio on the north shore of Long Island (now Queens).  He published lengthy exerts of that visit in his book, Famous Sculptors of American . We have recently acquired a discarded copy of the work and will be offering exerts from it in months to come.

"Sun Vow" facial details illustrate McSpadden's comments in these faces. (Art Institute of Chicago)


"Moqui Runner" facial details

In his volume, McSpadden suggested that MacNeil interpreted Native Americans “with a sympathy and insight particularly his own.” He conversed with MacNeil about his witnessing of the Snake dance and other ceremonies of southwest tribal life in 1895.

He takes a lengthy quote from a September 1909 article (“The Art of MacNeil”) in an art periodical called the Craftsman as saying:

“In ‘Moqui Runner,’ ‘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 of his own vanishing tribes, and his point of view toward the white race which has absorbed his country. it was never the Indian of the 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.”

“Moqui Runner” facial and torso detail

 

 


"Coming of the White Man" captures proud gaze of the Mulnomah chief.

McSpadden’s work provides a valuable piece of history, namely MacNeil’s own comments on his life, thoughts, and sculptures.

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