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 “The Coming of the White Man”

Rarest of the Rare!   A very rare Silver – Society of Medalists #3 – by ‘H. A. MacNeil’ (in lower right).

It is “Silver.”

Only twenty-five were minted in 1931.

In the summer of 1895, Hermon MacNeil traveled to the Southwest.  With Hamlin Garland and Charles Francis Browne, they journey by railroad to the four-corners region of New Mexico, Arizona, Colorado and Utah.

With Garland as guide the sculptor and the artist witnessed Native American culture first hand. They visited the Hopi and Navajo reservations immersed in Native American life. They saw the “Prayer for Rain” ~ the Snake Dance ceremony depicted here on the SOM #3.

The “Prayer for Rain” depicts the Moqui (Hopi) runner carrying the snakes to the river to activate the rain cycle of nature. [SOM #3 Reverse]

This Society of Medalists Issue #3, in Silver, by Hermon MacNeil is rare.  This silver “Beauty” is the only one I have seen in my ten years of “Searching for Uncle Hermon” and producing this website.

ONLY 25 were made in SILVER (99.9%).

The Silver issue of MacNeil’s medallion is among the rarest of the rare.  

Over sixty-times that number  were struck in  Bronze  (1,713).  Now nearly eight decades later, those are more common, but also rare and collectible.   [See pictured below — at the end of this article — this author’s collection of the varied Bronze patinas of S.O.M #3.]

The next year (1932), Frederick MacMonnies sculpted a medallion celebrating Charles A. Lindbergh historic flight.  250 of those medallions were struck in Silver.  That makes the Lindbergh issue ten times more common than MacNeil’s “Hopi”.  (10 X 25) — 

Silver minting of most SOM Issues quantities usually ranged from 50 to 125.  Most often 100 silver specimens were struck.  SO the 25 of the MACNEIL’S “Prayer for Rain” creations are twice as rare and up to 10 times as rare as other SOM Issues.

This, all Society of Medalists (SOM) in Silver can be considered rare.  However, this MacNeil piece is definitely “THE RAREST OF THE RARE!”

This images that MacNeil’s placed of the Obverse and Reverse had been burned in his visual memory in 1895.  They lived in his artist’s awareness for decades. It is no stretch to say that they inspired numerous sculptures and pieces that came out of his studio. 

“The Moqui Runner,” “The Primitive Chant,” were “living” in his mind when he first saw these scenes. Then, three decades later, he chose them for his own theme and design.  Thus, the 1931 Society of Medalists Issue #3 became his offering to this young series by American Sculptors.

The following are just a few of the sculptures and monuments, which re-capture some of the Native American culture and history first observed in this 1895 trip to the Hopi (Moqui) people.

By comparison, the SOM’s issued from:

  • 1930 to 1944. ~ struck 2X to 5X this quantity of SILVER medallions. 
  • 1945 to 1950. ~ those SOM silver issues were minted in quantities of 50 to 60.
  • 1950 to 1972. ~ NO silver medallions were struck. 
  • 1973 to 1979. ~ Silver medallions ranged from 140-200. 
  • No Silver coins were struck from 1980-1995
  • In 1995 the “Society of Medalists Series” closed production.

In 1931 design the the Society of Medalist medal #3, Hermon MacNeil chose to immortalize his memory of these images from 1895 in rare silver — 99.9% fine silver!

A Rare Beauty Indeed.   Hi Ho, Silver !

MacNeil Display MacNeil Medallion (front and reverse) in Center. Framed by 10 SOM #3 (Obverse & reverse) of varied patinas. SOURCE: Collection of Webmaster

 

 

 

 

 

 

SOURCES:

Information taken from the six page list entitled: Medal Collectors of America; Checklist of “The Society of Medalists” Issues 1930 – Date. Originally written by D. Wayne Johnson with rights retained by him; used with permission.

His listing includes the original pricing supplied by Paul Bosco in the inaugural issue of the MCA’s publication “The Medal Cabinet” (Summer 2000) for the silver issues and Paul’s update values for the bronze pieces that appeared in the Spring/Summer 2002 edition of “The MCA Advisory.”

May 8th I will be able to complete a “bucket list” check-off by visiting the “Coming of the White Man”.

This photo shows the upper base of the statue as part of the casting itself with the name sculpted into the base. This sits on the boulder that MacNeil crafted for the setting from Columbia River granite.

Post Card of 1905 Statue before the oak branch was broken. MacNeil selected the stone for the base and supervised its delivery from the quarry to the hill where it was hauled up by a four horse team.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I hope to take my own photos of the Statue in its Washington Park setting.  I have told MacNeil’s stories of this piece, but have never had the pleasure of seeing it myself and spending time there. 

Other posts related to the “The Coming of the White Man”  [Click HERE]

More to come after May 8th.

 

“The Coming of the White Man in Washington Park, Portland, Oregon. This photo shows the legs of the Indian on the left which Jo Davidson painfully modeled in plaster casts. The title is sculpted into the base. The whole group sits on a boulder that MacNeil crafted for the setting from a granite quarry up the Columbia River granite. The granite came to the Park by barge. Then, a team of horses brought it up the hillside, all under MacNeil’s direction and supervision

Jo Davidson continues the narrative of his adventures working in the  Studio of Hermon MacNeil:

Besides being a gardener, a sculptor’s assistant and an errand boy, I also became a model. Henri Crenier had noticed my legs one day while we were swimming and insisted they were just right for the young Indian in ‘The Coming of the White Man.’ MacNeil thought he could save time by making a plaster cast of my legs.

So Gregory and Crenier volunteered to do the job, claiming to be experts in casting from life. I was innocent and did not realize what I was up against. I was rather hairy, and they rather haphazardly rubbed the oil over my legs. That done, they covered my legs with plaster, and as the plaster set, the string that was to separate the two halves of the mold broke. Their fun increased as my temper rose, but I was in plaster up to my loins and was helpless. After setting the plaster became very hot and disagreeable. Mr. Gregory and Mr. Crenier chopped gleefully away, separating the two parts. Having completed that part of the job to their satisfaction, they proceeded to take the mold off my legs. The pain was excruciating, for the hair got mixed up with the plaster and as they pulled the mold off of me my hair went with it. I screamed and swore at them, but my anger only made them laugh louder. They finally got the mold off, leaving my legs like two boiled lobsters. The cast turned out to be a very hairy one. I saw those legs many years later in MacNeil’s studio, and I swear they were hairier than ever!

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.”

The summer passed quickly. Those were rich and full days. I was sure of my vocation. I was going to be a sculptor.”

Jo Davidson

Thus in his own words, Jo Davidson recounts becoming the unwitting model for the legs of this younger Indian. 

Jo Davidson sculpting a young Frank Sinatra. (1946) – http://www.highlands-gallery.com/jo-davidson

The plaster casts were made on his very hairy legs.  It proved a painful adventure for the naive teen.  Humored by the absurd scene, the “experienced” sculptors laughed at his embarrassment and discomfort as they removed the plaster casts with his leg hair embedded.

Despite the teasing, Jo Davidson went on to study sculpture, develop his talents, and find his unique place as a sculptor doing what he loved.

The MacNeil Studio no longer stands. In it’s nearly fifty years beside the East River Sound, many sculptor assistants, sculptures, and models of works were shaped in that place.

Postcard of MacNeil studio in College Point. From the webmaster’s collection.

This postcard and the Christmas card of 1912, posted on December 22, 2016, show the exterior of the studio. Pictures of the inside of MacNeil’s studio are rare.

However, one word picture offers a captivating account from about 1902-1903.   (Jo Davidson, Between Sittings, Dial Press: New York, 1941).

As an 18 year-old struggling artist, Jo Davidson aspired to become a sculptor. (http://www.highlands-gallery.com/jo-davidson) 

Though young, he was outgoing, naively confident, and very determined. In his autobiography he shares a fascinating encounter with Hermon MacNeil. Davidson gives a vivid description of both of MacNeil’s studios on Fifty-fifth Street and in College Point. Davidson eventually went on to become a renowned portrait sculptor of over 250 world leaders.  See him below sculpting a bust of General Eisenhower nearly fifty years later.  However, his initial impressions upon MacNeil were much less inspiring. Davidson recounts their meeting with understated humor:

Jo Davidson making a bust of General Dwight D. Eisenhower (1948) SOURCE: Laurant Davidson ( http://www.highlands-gallery.com/jo-davidson )

“On my first visit to New York, I went to the Art Students League and inquired who taught the sculpture class. I was told Herman [sic] A. MacNeil. They gave me his address, the Holbein Studios over the stables on West Fifty-fifth Street. I went to call on him to see if I could get a job in his studio. He asked me whether I had ever done any modeling, and remembering Mister Broadman’s encouragement, I told him I had. MacNeil looked at me quizzically and said, ‘I have to go out for a bit.’ He handed me a blueprint, saying, “ See what you can do with this,’ and took me to a stand piled up with plasticine – the beginning of a Corinthian capital. Then Mac Neil left.”

 “I had never seen a blueprint before in my life. I tried to figure it out, but it was hopeless. I looked around the studio. There were bronze statuettes of Indians; scale models of monuments; photographs of executed work; and some portrait heads. I was fascinated and impressed. I made up my mind to get a job with that man.”

 “I struggled with my Corinthian capital but got nowhere. In the midst of this Mr. MacNeil returned. He looked at the sorry mess I had made of his model, shook his head and asked, ‘How much do you expect to earn in a week?’”

 “I meekly suggested fifteen dollars.

He said, ‘Young man, you will never make that at sculpture.’

I asked him what he would give me, taking for granted that a job was there for me. He was taken unawares and said, ‘Six dollars a week.’ I accepted. He looked defeated and said, ‘All right, Come in Monday morning.’”

 “I went home elated and told my people I had found a job in a great sculptor’s studio. Though they did not approve, I think they caught my enthusiasm; I could hardly wait for Monday morning. At the appointed time, I rang the studio bell. The door opened and Mr. MacNeil stuck his head out of the door scowling.

‘I’ve thought it over,’ he said. ‘You are not worth it.’

I followed him into the studio.

‘What am I worth?’ I asked

‘Four dollars.’

‘All right, I’ll take it’

He gave up. ‘All right, you go to my studio in College Point, Long Island and see Mr. [John] Gregory. Tell him you are the new studio boy.’

The ride was long and expensive, a carfare, a ferry and another carfare I arrived at the MacNeil house, which was on the Sound, in Long Island, and finally found Mr. Gregory

Mr. Gregory was rather brusque: ‘Come on, hang up your things,’ he said, and he introduced me to Henri Crenier, the master sculptor.”

Davidson goes on to describe the MacNeil Studio and his early experiences there. His word picture shares some similarities of old Smithsonian archive photos. 

The Poppenhusen Institute houses this plaster model of “A Chief of the Multnomah” donated in 1920 by MacNeil. It represents half of the “Coming of the White Man” grouping comissioned in 1904 for the City of Portland, Oregon by the family of David P. Thompson. (photo courtesy of Bob Walker, College Point)

  

“The studio was a huge barn of a place or, so it appeared to me then. It was full of work in progress. There was the ‘Fountain of Liberty’ which Mr. MacNeil was making for the coming World’s Fair in St. Louis. It consisted of colossal rampant sea-horses, cavorting over a cascade of waves, sea formations and variegated seashells. At the other end of the studio there was an immense group in clay of two Indians – an older Indian standing on his tiptoes with his arms folded across his chest, looking into the distance, the younger Indian with his left hand on the old man’s shoulder and in his right hand waving an olive branch. The title of the group was ‘The Coming of the White Man.’ There were plaster molds and sketches of details of other projects.”

I was bewildered.  John Gregory woke me out of my trance and took me down to the cellar where he was working on some plaster moldings. It didn’t take him long to discover that I knew nothingbut he sensed my eagerness and was quick to give me advise and information. When I got home , I talked everybody’s ear off, but my sister Ray was the only one who listened sympathetically.   She wanted to know all about it and there was so much to tell.” 

STAY TUNED FOR “SO MUCH MORE TO TELL”

SOURCE:  Jo Davidson, Between Sittings: An Informal Autobiography (Dial Press: New York, 1951. Pp.13-16)

 

 

 

 

 

There is another “Chief of the Multnomah.”

Today I received four unsolicited photos in my website email.  Three are posted below. The only message was the words, “I need help with this.”

I responded with “What help do you need with this?”

“A Chief of the Multnomah” is silent, but If he could only speak and share his observations of 150 years with the White Man.

The one word answer came back, “Valuation.”

So, I asked for permission to post the photos on this website. I added that the photos: 

“are excellent examples of public works of HA MacNeil that are not publicized in the art world. I was not aware of this public sculpture until your inquiry.”

My responses included:

1. An explanation that I am neither an art appraiser nor an art dealer.  I also expressed curiosity as to where the statue was located in such a park-like setting.

2. I identified myself as the webmaster of HermonAtkinsMacNeil.com. I  stated that I build and maintain this website to gather information on the sculpture and life of Hermon A. MacNeil.  I stated that it has attracted people like the inquirer who wanted more information.

3. So I offered the following information: I recognize the piece in the photographs as “A Chief of the Multnomah.”  The  photo of MacNeil’s signature is very helpful. (See below). The ‘H.A. MacNeil, SC’ was his typical marking.  “SC” was his abbreviation for ‘sculptor.’  The ’04’ would indicate a completion date of ‘1904’ for the sculpture. The 4/9 would suggest this is the 4th casting of 9 castings of this piece.  There is probably a marking of RBW or “Roman Bronze Works” somewhere on the sculpture also. They were the foundry that MacNeil (and dozens of other American sculptors) used most extensively.

The signature reds: "H.A MacNeil, SC. 04" and "4/9"

4. I passed along information of a recent estate auction in Queens, NY  a where a “Chief of the Multnomah” statue was sold.  While I do not have documentation, I remembered reading a sale price somewhere in the $35,000 range. I suggested that this other piece might be one the ‘nine’ cast with this 4th-of-9 castings. See section 7 below and the links there for a bit more on that Michael Halberian Estate Sale.

5. I told how MacNeil later combined ‘Chief Multnomah  with a smaller accompanying figure of a native medicine man standing by the chief. That larger sculpture he called, “The Coming of the White Man.”  It stands in Portland, Oregon in Washington Park. See my posting at:
https://hermonatkinsmacneil.com/2010/05/17/portland-coming-of-the-white-man/  

6. I also told how the original plaster sculpture model of the “Coming of the White Man” was given by MacNeil to the Poppenhusen Institute in College Point, Queens, NYC, which is just up the street from the location of MacNeil’s studio and home (now destroyed). Here is more of the story on that:
https://hermonatkinsmacneil.com/2010/09/15/macneil-sculpture-at-poppenhusen-institute/  

"A Chief of the Multnomah" looks over the Choptank River on Maryland's Eastern Shore.

7. I then offered more about that recent estate auction featuring “A Chief of the Multnomah” (which is the right-hand half of the “Coming of the White Man” pair.)

Everything Must Go” was a feature story in the “Queens Chronicle” by Elizabeth Daley, editor (March 11, 2011).  Michael Halberian lived in the former Steinway Family Mansion.  It is uncertain whether the MacNeil sculpture was a Steinway heirloom that sold with the mansion or whether Mike discovered it in his appraisal work. (Some stories say he had is cast from the plaster original model.)

At that point I still had no idea where the statue was located.

Neither do you until next posting.

AND THAT IS THE BEST PART OF THE STORY. 

STAY TUNED!

Categories : Location, Sculptures, Statue
Comments (0)

The Poppenhusen Institute (just blocks from the site of MacNeil’s Studio and home) in College Point, Queens, NYC has made an urgent Appeal for $3000.  The money will secure the shipment and handling of several MacNeil Statues being donated to the Institute.

The Poppenhusen Institute houses this plaster model of “A Chief of the Multnomah” donated in 1920 by MacNeil. It represents half of the “Coming of the White Man” grouping comissioned in 1904 for the City of Portland, Oregon by the family of David P. Thompson. (photo courtesy of Bob Walker, College Point)

An Appeal

The Landmark Poppenhusen Institute in College Point, Queens has been presented with the opportunity to obtain a number of statues by Hermon Atkins Mac Neil. We are anxious to accept this offer since Mac Neil was the head of the art department at the Institute for many years and also served as its president. He also lived in this community of more than 40 years.

The cost of packing, and transporting these sculptures is $3,000. Won’t you consider contributing to this cause. You can learn more about the Institute, visit our website at www.poppenhuseninstitute.org.

We are a tax exempt (501C3), therefore all donations are tax deductible according to the N.Y.S. Tax Deduction Law.

Checks can be sent to: Poppenhusen Institute, P.O. Box 91, College Point, NY 11356

Thank you for your anticipated support.

Susan Brustmann

Bob Walker (illustrator, sculptor, and long time College Point resident), has informed us just yesterday of these needs and developments.  He also sent the wonderful detail photo of “The Coming of the White Man” shown above. This plaster model is MacNeil’s original sculpture from which the Portland bronze grouping was cast by Bureau Brothers foundry of Los Angeles.  This original work is on display in the auditorium of the Institute. Bob has also told us that:

These plaster works will be joined by other pieces by MacNeil being donated to become in the future, a substantial MacNeil collection to be exhibited at Poppenhusen.

The Poppenhusen Institute built in 1868 by Conrad Poppenhusen was established to be a learning institute open to all people providing the opportunity to improve their lives by offering adult education and the first free kindergarten in the USA in 1870. It continues to serve the community by offering Theater groups, Music and Art programs, Lectures, Historic exhibits and creative workshops for children.

Susan Brustmann and her dedicated staff have done an amazing job of keeping the Institute together with creativity and hard work.

This request for funds is a first step in expanding the MacNeil Collection of the Institute.  Thanks to the Poppenhusen Institute, its donors, and the people of College Point, Queens, the MacNeil Collection there can be expanded.

MacNeil Park was dedicated by Mayor Lindsey in 1967. That act permanently placed the name of Hermon A. MacNeil” in the community he and Carol loved, and where their home and studio stood for 50 years.

Bob Walker has lived in College Point for 46 years just a few blocks from the site of the MacNeil studio and home. Bob also gives us the ultimate web-surfer compliment, “I have really enjoyed your website as I am a fan of MacNeil’s work and I’m grateful to find a site dedicated to his sculpture.” (Thanks Bob for your ongoing contribution here as well. – webmaster Dan)

PLEASE HELP these MacNeil sculptures to come home to College Point. Send your check today to: Poppenhusen Institute, P.O. Box 91, College Point, NY 11356

Hermon served as president of the Poppenhusen Institute board and donated the his original plaster model. Click in this link for a stunning photo and the Poppenhusen story — “The Coming of the White Man” .

A previous post here tells the whole story.  CLICK HERE.

[mappress mapid=”33″]

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

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