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 and info about these works by MacNeil. ]

~ 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 Supreme Court Building

photo 1

Dan Leininger holds the “Galley” for Summer 2014 with MacNeil’s “Pony Express” statue on the cover and an 8 page feature story inside.

“Clan MacNeil Connections and Hermon Atkins MacNeil”

The current issue of the Clan MacNeil Association of America magazine has a feature story on Hermon Atkins MacNeil by webmaster, Dan Leininger

The Galley edited by Vicki Sanders Corporon titles Dan’s story as “Clan MacNeil Connections and Hermon Atkins MacNeil.” The feature and photos fill 8 pages in the “Galley” issue for Spring/Summer 2014.

Ezra Cornell statue at Cornell University, Ithaca, NY was dedicated in 1918 after WWI.

Ezra Cornell statue at Cornell University, Ithaca, NY was dedicated in 1918 after WWI.  Page 19 of the “Galley” (This Photo from Cornell University is Courtesy of Chris Carlsen).

 

 

Page 20 of  “Galley” for Summer 2014

Page 20 of the “Galley” for Summer 2014

The featured photos include the East Pediment of the Supreme Court Building in Washington, D.C. (with a detail close-up of Moses, Confucius, and Salon); The George Rogers Clark monument in Vincennes, IN at the site of his victory over the British in 1779; Confederate Defenders of Charleston, SC; the Young Lawyer Abraham Lincoln in Champaign, IL; General George Washington on the Washington Arch, NYC, NY. Also in this article are photos of the grouping Coming of the White Man in Portland, OR; The WWI Angel of Peace Monument in Flushing NY; and a bust of Dwight L. Moody (who MacNeil sketched during the 1893 Chicago Worlds Fair.

photo 2

Page 18 of the “Galley” for Summer 2014

“Slow but steady wins the race.” 

So said Aesop in the fable of the “Tortoise and the Hare.” And those are the two last figures that Hermon A. MacNeil placed as ‘bookends’ on either end of the East Pediment of the US Supreme Court Building. On our recent visit to Washington, D.C., we slowly made our way to the Supreme Court Building, we walked steadily around to the East Pediment (back side) passing the barricades for all the current landscape construction.

There, hidden high on the seldom-seen back side of **Cass Gilbert’s last architectural achievement, rests the eleven marble figures of Hermon A. MacNeil’s tribute to “Justice: The Guardian of Liberty.”   Unless you walk around the building you will miss this massive work of art.  

Moses, Confucius, and Solon represent three great world civilizations.   Moses (receiver of Hebrew Ten Commandments) is in the center.  To his right is Confucius (Chinese philosopher and teacher).  To Moses’ left is Solon (Athenian lawmaker, statesman, and poet).  MacNeil explained his work as follows:

“Law as an element of civilization was normally and naturally derived or inherited in this country from former civilizations. The ‘Eastern Pediment’ of the Supreme Court Building suggests therefore the treatment of such fundamental laws and precepts as are derived from the East.”

This trio of law makers are framed on left and right by three pairs of allegorical figures.  The rest of the grouping is as follows:

“Flanking this central group – left – is the symbolical figure bearing the means of enforcing the law. On the right a group tempering justice with mercy, allegorically treated. The “Youth” is brought into both these groups to suggest the “Carrying on” of civilization through the knowledge imbibed of right and wrong. The next two figures with shields; Left – The settlement of disputes between states through enlightened judgment. Right – Maritime and other large functions of the Supreme Court in protection of the United States. The last figures: Left – Study and pondering of judgments. Right – A tribute to the fundamental and supreme character of this Court. Finale – The fable of the Tortoise and the Hare.

East Pediment description: CLICK HERE

** NOTE: Gilbert, Sr. died in 1934, one year before the completion of the Supreme Court Building by his son, Cass Gilbert, Jr.  MacNeil and Gilbert first collaborated in 1904 at the Saint Louis World’s Fair.  That “Palace of Fine Arts” on Art Hill now houses the St. Louis Art Museum.”  

The three MacNeil sculptures above the main entrance of Cass Gilbert’s ‘Palace of fine Arts’ are examples of the Beaux Arts style of World Fairs of this era. (http://www.slam.org/).

For more on Supreme Court Building See Also:

1.  https://hermonatkinsmacneil.com/2010/05/29/tortoise-and-hare-taken-to-supreme-court/

2.  https://hermonatkinsmacneil.com/2010/08/07/moses-confusius-and-solon-at-supreme-court/

3.  https://hermonatkinsmacneil.com/2012/01/21/hermon-macneils-supreme-court-sculptures-the-tortoise-the-hare-revisited/

For more on Saint Louis World’s Fair See Also:

1.  https://hermonatkinsmacneil.com/2010/08/06/macneil-sculpture-st-louis-art-museum/

2.  https://hermonatkinsmacneil.com/2011/03/26/1904-louisiana-purchase-exposition-saint-louis-worlds-fair/

3.  https://hermonatkinsmacneil.com/2011/03/12/expositions-and-worlds-fairs-hermon-a-macneil/

Andrew Jackson tips his hat to the White House and the Washington Monument. The statue cast by Clark Mill in 1853 occupies the center of Lafayette Square.

I recently visited our nation’s Capitol with family. Sculpture and history are everywhere.  On the way to the Supreme Court to take a few photos of MacNeil’s tortoise and the hare, I was lured away by a few wonderful sites.

So the East Pediment of 11 figures (Moses, Confucius, Solon, the tortoise and the hare, and six others) would have to wait.

In front of the White House in Lafayette Square, I found Andrew Jackson rearing up on horseback and waiving his hat to the White House and Washington monument in the distance. Apparently, he has been doing that pose for over 160 years when Clark Mills’ tribute to Jackson was emplaced.  For more perspectives and close-up details on this piece click HERE at DCmemorials.com.

 

The First Division Monument of WWI was designed by Cass Gilbert. This golden "Victory" was the work of Daniel Chester French.

Behind the Old Executive Office Building, high on a Roman column stood “Victory” by Daniel Chester FrenchCass Gilbert was also the architect of this WWI memorial to the First Infantry Division.   All of the funds for the monument as well as the additions were provided by the Society of the First Infantry Division. 

To see this full monument and others in the Ellipse and D.C. CLICK HERE. The StationStart.com website provides photos and history to accompany your ride on the Metro through the Capitol.

On across the street stands the Washington Monument which is closed for structural repairs following the earth quake last year. Some mortar was loosened and cracks opened.  But the spire stands tall and proud like the General himself.

On down the hill to the west rests the WWII Memorial.  Nestled into the center of the Mall, this oval dish of fountains, pools, and 56 state and territorial salutes gathers people into a living history.  Veterans of WWII, some of the last remaining were there on that sunny Saturday morning giving dignity and flesh and blood to this stunningly compelling tribute.  As a VA Chaplain, I found myself shedding more tears here and recalling the veterans I have been privileged to know.

The WWII Monument is just down the hill from the Washington obilisk. Across the pool of fountains we see the 4048 gold stars and the Lincoln Memorial in the distance.

ALL GAVE SOME - SOME GAVE ALL. 4048 Gold Stars commemorate the 404,800 American soldiers who died in World War II.

ALL GAVE SOME – SOME GAVE ALL.  These 4048 Gold Stars commemorate the 404,800 American soldiers who died in World War II. Each Gold Star here represents 100 dead.

During the war, each mother of a veteran would place a Blue Star in the front window of the family home. A Gold Star is what a mother placed if a son had been killed in action.

For more photos and history on this monument see HERE.

COMING: Next post will take us to the Lincoln Memorial to see Daniel Chester French’s most renowned sculpture.

Comments (0)

   At each corner of the East Pediment of the U.S. Supreme Court Building, Hermon MacNeil placed the figures of a ‘tortoise’ and a ‘hare.’  His local newspaper (“Brooklyn Daily Star”) carried the story below on the MacNeil’s 67th Birthday, February 27, 1933.

Published on Hermon A. MacNeil’s 67th Birthday – February 27, 1933 – In the “Brooklyn Daily Star” – Front Page One, Columns 6 & 7.

MacNeil’s ‘Tortoise’ on the north corner of his east pediment sculpture MacNeil’s ‘Hare’ on south corner of east Pediment sculpture.

 The greater figures (Moses, Confucius, and Solon [not Plato]) received more publicity and scrutiny.  Some questioned that placement as making some ‘religious’ statement (See previous Posting of Jan 13th, 2012).

MacNeil’s use of the little symbolic animals so familiar to readers of Aesop’s Fables (children’s readings from a century ago) may seem quaint in 21st Century media, but provide an appropriate allegorical meaning and use of confined ‘space.’

Also see previous story on this website at:

Tortoise and Hare taken to Supreme Court

MacNeil’s ‘Hare’ on south corner of east Pediment sculpture.

Of further note in the “Brooklyn Daily Star” article is the reference to Alden MacNeil. He was Hermon and Carol’s younger son.  Whether he worked ‘for’ Cass Gilbert or ‘with’ the famous architect is unclear.  I suspect the later.  Either way being “associated” with Cass Gilbert the renowned architectural firm on the Supreme Court Building project is a significant point of the story.

US Supreme Court Building, East Pediment, Washington, D.C.

When the Supreme Court justices considered whether the Ten Commandments could be displayed on government property, they did so under the watchful eyes of none other than Hermon MacNeil’sMoses“. This ironic observation was made in 2005 by Andrea James in a Religious News Service article entitled:  “In the Supreme Court itself, Moses and his law on display”  ( published March 3, 2005 at http://www.christianindex.org/1087.article ). 

Three great law makers ~ Moses (center) flanked by Confucius (left) and Solon (right) ~ represent three great world cultures ~ (Judeo-Christian, Eastern Asian, Greco-Roman)

While it seems difficult to NOT associate ‘religious connotations’ with representations of ‘Moses,’ wherever they may be, MacNeil’s interpretation of his sculpture is quoted as follows:

MacNeil didn’t intend his sculptures to have religious connotations. Explaining his work, MacNeil wrote, “Law as an element of civilization was normally and naturally derived or inherited in this country from former civilizations. The ‘Eastern Pediment’ of the Supreme Court Building suggests therefore the treatment of such fundamental laws and precepts as are derived from the East.”  ( http://architecture.about.com/od/greatbuildings/ss/SupremeCourt_7.htm )

MacNeil's sculptures of Moses, Confucius, and Solon on the East Pediment of the Supreme Court Building in Washington, D.C.

Moses appears as the central figure on the Supreme Court building’s east side holding  two stone tablets. The pediment was started in 1932 and completed in 1934.  Cass Gilbert was the building architect. He and MacNeil collaborated  in 1904 of the Saint Louis Art Museum built as the “Palace of Fine Arts” for the World’s Fair known as the ‘Louisiana Purchase Exposition.”

In her 2005 news article, Andrea James reports multiple appearances of ‘Moses’ in the building housing the last final option for appeals in the U.S. Judiciary Branch of government:

“The Jewish lawgiver is depicted several times in the stone and marble edifice that is the Supreme Court building, and so are the Ten Commandments. In sculpture, Moses sits as the prominent figure atop the building’s east side, holding two tablets representing the Ten Commandments. And on the wall directly behind the chief justice’s chair, an allegorical “Majesty of Law” places his muscular left arm on a tablet depicting the Roman numerals I through X.

Believers are convinced those are indeed the commandments given to Moses as described in the biblical Book of Exodus. Others say the 10 numbers represent the Bill of Rights.”

Regardless of past or future discussions the Supreme Court Building and the implied connotations of the presence of ‘Moses’ depicted there, MacNeil used multiple figures representing a diversity of cultures.  These various traditions of laws  written on tablets, scrolls or  parchment are used throughout the Building. 

In addition, this practice is consistent with the plans  of Thomas Jefferson, George Washington and patterns  used in other government buildings, including the U. S. Capitol Building with its Classic temple architecture. 

“In 1792, Thomas Jefferson and Thomas Johnson placed of an advertisement announcing a Capitol architectural contest in a Philadelphia newspaper. The ad contained rules and requirements for size and numbers of rooms and such. The judges of the competition were George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, and Commissioners of the District of Colombia. The philosopher Jefferson, a classically educated man like many of the founders, saw in temple designs like the Temple of the Sun, the Parthenon and the Roman Pantheon a symbolism of democracy and philosophy resurrected.

Jefferson, Washington and the committee thought that the new capitol building(s) should symbolize a Temple of Liberty in a secular sense. Entries were mostly Renaissance or Georgian, which is based on Palladian, a classical revival style of the renaissance. But the Graeco-Roman modeled entries were the most liked by the Washington, Jefferson, and the committee. The committee took the symbolic nature of the Capitol seriously. For the committee, the design must symbolize the functions and themes of the capitol.”

For more of the plans and drawings presented in the Library of Congress online exhibits see: ( http://community-2.webtv.net/westernmind/WASHINGTONDC/ )

 

SuprCtEastPedMosesConfSolonHeader

CONFUCIUS ~ MOSES ~ SOLON center on MacNeil’s East Pediment

The East Pediment of the Supreme Court of the United States designed and sculpted by Hermon A. MacNeil contains the likenesses of three Lawgivers from the history of  civilization: Moses, Confucius, and Solon. According to the Office of the Curator in a public INFORMATION SHEET:

“Visitors often miss the East Pediment of the Supreme Court Building because it is located at the rear of the building. This sculptural group was designed by Hermon A. MacNeil (1866 – 1947), an artist who studied under the masters of classical architecture and design. Cass Gilbert (1867 – 1934), the building’s architect, worked closely with MacNeil from 1932 to 1934 to create the thirteen symmetrically balanced allegorical figures. MacNeil submitted the following description of his work to the Supreme Court Building Commission:”

“Law as an element of civilization was normally and naturally derived or inherited in this country from former civilizations. The “Eastern Pediment” of the Supreme Court Building suggests therefore the treatment of such fundamental laws and precepts as are derived from the East.

  • Moses, Confucius and Solon are chosen as representing three great civilizations and form the central group of this Pediment.
  • Flanking this central group – left – is the symbolical figure bearing the means of enforcing the law. On the right a group tempering justice with mercy, allegorically treated. The “Youth” is brought into both these groups to suggest the “Carrying on” of civilization through the knowledge imbibed of right and wrong.

The next two figures with shields;

  • Left – The settlement of disputes between states through enlightened judgment.
  • Right – Maritime and other large functions of the Supreme Court in protection of the United States.

The last figures:

May 16, 1932 Note regarding the East Pediment Inscription The text, in the hand of Charles Evans Hughes, reads, I rather prefer “Justice the Guardian of Liberty”

The inscription on the East Pediment – Justice the Guardian of Liberty – is one of the few decisions regarding the architecture of the building that was made directly by one of the Justices. On May 2,1932, David Lynn, the Architect of the Capitol, sent Chief Justice Charles Evans Hughes a letter with Cass Gilbert’s suggestions for the East and West Pediment inscriptions. The Chief Justice agreed with the suggested inscription for the West Pediment, Equal Justice Under Law, but did not like the one proposed for the East Pediment, Equal Justice is the Foundation of Liberty. Chief Justice Hughes sent a note (below) with a suggestion for a different inscription to Justice Willis Van Devanter, the only Justice beside Hughes and his predecessor, Chief Justice William Howard Taft, to serve on the Supreme Court Building Commission. Justice Van Devanter responded with a succinct reply: “Good (W.V.)” A few days later, the Chief Justice formally answered Lynn’s request by providing the alternate inscription, stating simply “We think that the inscription for the East Portico can be improved.”

The May 16, 1932 Note regarding the East Pediment Inscription written in the hand of Charles Evans Hughes, reads, I rather prefer “Justice the Guardian of Liberty”

The East Pediment by Hermon A. MacNeil – Office of the Curator • Supreme Court of the United States

Source: Office of the Curator, Supreme Court of the United States – Updated: 5/22/2003

For additional critical discussion on the Supreme Court Building sculptures related to Moses as a law giver see:

http://www.snopes.com/politics/religion/capital.asp

Visit the HA MacNeil‘s “Justice The Guardian of Liberty” at the East Pediment of the Supreme Court Building in Washington, D.C. [mappress]

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

PHOTOS WANTED: Be a WEBSITE contributor

WE DESIRE YOUR DIGITAL PHOTOS of MacNeil's work! Here's some photo 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