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

Since 2010 this website has transported viewers through the years and miles between 100’s of Hermon MacNeil’s statues & monuments throughout the USA.

For over one hundred years these sculptures have graced our parks, boulevards, and parkways; buildings, memorials, and gardens; campuses, capitols, and civic centers; museums, coinage, and private collections.

PERHAPS,  you walk or drive by one of his public sculptures daily. HERE, you can gain awareness of this great sculptor and his many works.  Maybe there are some near you! CHECK HERE!

Archive for “The Sun Vow”

I had the privilege of visiting the MAM site this week and will post a larger story soon. For now, here’s a quick shot of MacNeil’s “Sun Vow”.

 In August, news arrived from Monclair, NJ, expressing community concern about the 117 year-old “Sun Vow” at Monclair Art Museum’ being relocated (without a specific plan for its future).

https://hermonatkinsmacneil.com/?s=montclair

The statue was a gift of the co-founder, William T. Evans.  It has been welcoming patrons to the front door for over a century after William Evans (the donor and co-founder) commissioned it in 1903, and placed it there in 1914. 

Son Vow – Opinion ‘Respecting ‘The Sun Vow’ Regarding the Montclair Art Museum’s landscape re development proposal for the Planning Board Meeting Monday August 26 at 7:30 PM

“The relocating of this “Sun Vow” appears to be on hold for the present as the Montclair Museum continues to assess their future expansion and update plans.”

~ Dan Leininger ~

Related posts:

  1. Son Vow – Opinion ‘Respecting ‘The Sun Vow’ Regarding the Montclair Art Museum’s landscape re development proposal for the Planning Board Meeting Monday August 26 at 7:30 PM Here’s a quick shot of MacNeil’s “Sun Vow” with yours…
  2. “Sun Vow” – MacNeil’s most famous piece ` ` The Sun Vow is certainly Hermon Atkins MacNeil’s…
  3. Searching for Uncle Hermon in Chicago ~ “The Sun Vow” (cont.) On a cold December day we took the CTA Blue…
  4. Searching for Uncle Hermon in Chicago ~ Part 2 ~ “Vow of Vengeance” My recent post about our December 3rd journey on the…
  5. “Sun Vow” Video Starts MacNeil Month 2015 Here at the HermonAtkinsMacNeil.com website we celebrate every February as…

MacNeil’s “Sun Vow” is “Still There”

in NYC Metropolitan Museum of Art since 1919.

The “Sun Vow” became a theme here at HermonAtkinsMacNeil.com on several occasions. 

In November, I received an email and Photos from my daughter and grandson as they visited New York City.

Rachel and Owen Schweers visiting “The Sun Vow” in NYC’s Metropolitan Museum of Art.

New York City ~~ Metropolitan Museum of Art   My daughter and grandson texted the following:

“Hey Grampa, Look what we found!”

Owen Schweers at Hermon MacNeil’s “Sun Vow”.

Here’s some 2019 Photos of the MMA with Rachel and Owen Schweers on a New York City excursion in November.

Here is the Museum’s own description of this MacNeil piece:

“By the 1890s, sculptural representations of Native American and Western themes had become extremely popular. While living in Chicago in the early 1890s, MacNeil had learned of a rite of passage that captured his imagination: before a boy on the threshold of manhood could be accepted as a warrior, he was required to shoot an arrow directly into the sun. If the chieftain judging the boy’s prowess was so blinded by the sun’s rays that he could not follow the flight of the arrow, it was said to have gone “out of sight,” and the youth had passed the test. MacNeil portrayed the dramatic moment following the arrow’s release, heightening both the visual impact of the composition and the sense of narrative suspense.”

The Sun Vow

Working Title/Artist: The Sun Vow
Department: Am. Paintings / Sculpture
Culture/Period/Location:
HB/TOA Date Code:
Working Date: 1919
scanned for collections

Artist: Hermon Atkins MacNeil (American, Everett, Massachusetts 1866–1947 Queens, New York).  Date: 1899, cast 1919.  Culture: American.  Medium: Bronze.  Dimensions: 72 x 32 1/2 x 54 in. (182.9 x 82.6 x 137.2 cm).  Classification: Sculpture

Native Perspective:  from MMA.  Hermon Atkins MacNeil, Sun Vow

Hermon Atkins MacNeil (American, 1866–1947). The Sun Vow, 1899, cast 1919. Bronze, 72 x 32 1/2 x 54 in. (182.9 x 82.6 x 137.2 cm). The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, Purchase, Rogers Fund, 1919 (19.126). On view in gallery 700.

How will MacNeil’s story end? The figures are suspended, held captive by a vow that the artist later admitted he perhaps made up. This representation of the futility of Indian action fosters a belief in their aimlessness. Where will the arrow land? It cannot. Ineffective and undirected, it must disappear. This reinforces a limited vision of Native success in which the youth, the next generation, must move beyond the blinded elder. In a celebration of naivety, the child smiles slightly at the release of the powerless arrow, contributing to the acknowledgment of landless future generations—of Natives forcibly separated from their territories, and from themselves. This depiction participates in a ritual of blindness to a civilizing violence understood as necessary.

Jackson Polys (Tlingit)

Credit: Met Museum of Art; NYC: https://www.metmuseum.org/about-the-met/curatorial-departments/the-american-wing/native-perspectives ]

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.

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.

MacNeil of Barra Tartan (Modern)

My recent post about our December 3rd journey on the CTA Blue Line train to the Chicago Loop and the Art Institute of Chicago ended with a discussion of “The Sun Vow” and my photo array taken in the Sculpture Court.  [Searching for Uncle Hermon in Chicago ~ “The Sun Vow” ]

Another MacNeil piece just steps away in the adjoining American Gallery provides a “preface” to the story of “The Sun Vow”.

Modeled in 1894 that earlier piece was called “Vow of Vengeance.” It shows one of MacNeil’s early studies in Native American depiction.  It followed his exposure to the Chicago World Fair, his fascination with sketching the Indians in Buffalo Bill’s Wild West Show, and his modeling work with Black Pipe. (Black Pipe was a young Sioux who worked in Hermon’s studio and modeled for several pieces during 1893-94.  He helped with physical labor in the studio as well.  CLICK for MORE on Black Pipe and “Primitive Chant”) 

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MacNeil’s early study “Vow of Vengeance” that evolved into “The Sun Vow”. Art Institute of Chicago. [ Photo Credit: Dan Leininger, 2014 ]

Several pieces dated 1894 seemed to be early prototypes for later larger works and castings.  The “Vow of Vengeance” appears to be one of the more prominent.  I know of no other copies elsewhere.

A blog about the Art Institute observes some mingling of the identity of the two pieces:

The Vow of Vengeance -1894
By Hermon Atkins MacNeil.
What’s in a name?
Well, somehow I noticed a discrepancy in the name..
The Art Institute website calls it – The Vow of Vengeance [1894]
But marker at the Art Institute has the name – The Sun Vow [Modeled-1898, Cast-1901]. http://theartinstituteofchicago.blogspot.com/2010_12_01_archive.html.

 The Two “Vows” Compared  IMG_0698

While the “Vow of Vengeance” and “The Sun Vow” contain similar elements, what they communicate seems quite different:

  1. TITLE: The two titles carry contrasting emotional messages. The first (Vow of Vengeance) conveys negative aggression and hostile feeling toward some enemy, while the second (Sun Vow) depicts a more positive rite of passage from boyhood to manhood within a setting of family and tribal affirmation.
  2. GROUPING: The boy and the Elder (Warrior, Chief) are grouped to convey different emotional tones in the two pieces.  In “Vengeance,” the chief wears his war bonnet on his head. He is dressed to present tribal authority to the enemy. His face seems harsh and his posture stiff.  The Boy strains his head high up into the air.  Their grouping seems tense. IMG_0678In “Sun Vow” the two figures are closer and seem to be “more one.” The Chief has removed his bonnet so as to lean into the boy’s line of sight. The boy is also more grace-full. He looks to the arrow and the sun without straining.  Both gaze in the seeming wonder and mystical pleasure of the physical rite. 

1894 ~ Prototype Year:

In addition to the “Vow of Vengeance” we have found evidence of another prototype from 1894.

A previous posting tells James Dixon’s story of a MacNeil piece acquired by his Great-great grandmother, Edna Lord.  The sculpture bears the title  “Primitive Music” on its base.  [ CLICK Here for more ]

Photos on that previous post suggest that Edna Lord’s  “Primitive Indian Music” was an early prototype of the “Primitive Chant” (which was much more polished and finely surfaced)

It is also based on “Black Pipe”, the young Sioux Brave. MacNeil  first saw Black Pipe at the Buffalo Bills Wild West Show and we know that he returned many times to study the Indians.   Like MacNeil, I have return to this story of “Black Pipe”, the young Sioux Brave, numerous times, and perhaps, will return many more.  ~~  DNL

Hermon MacNeil ~ After the World’s Columbian Exposition

The period after the end of the 1893 Chicago World’s Fair was a lean, even dry time, financially for Hermon MacNeil. We do know that he continued to maintain a studio, sculpt models, teach at the Art Institute of Chicago, and associate with art colleagues and benefactors there. Yet, it seems a productive time of transition, expression, and experimentation for the as the young sculptor.

Traveling to the Art Museum, we walked out of the underground on Dearborn Street just a block south of the Marquette Building which is home to Hermon MacNeil’s 1895 sculptures of 4 bronze relief panels [Cick Here]. This commission marked his recognition and selection for the award of the Rinehart Roman Scholarship.  This began 3 years in Rome and another in Paris for he and his young bride, Carol Brooks. The bronze reliefs stands today as an icon to Marquette and his life among the Native peoples. The building has been restored by the MacArthur Foundation and now houses their international headquarters.

Those works tell the story Father Marquette explorations to Native peoples of Illinois. MacNeil would return to Chicago and the Marquette themes three decades later as he sculpted the bronze grouping [CLICK HERE] of Pere Marquette, Louis Jolliete, and an Illinois Indian on Marshall Boulevard.  Commissioned by the Benjamin Franklin Ferguson  Monument Fund, this sculpture has faced the greenway of the boulevard for 88 years.

Our trip was a satisfying success as our daughter took our pictures at hefoot of the Monument.

Our trip was a satisfying success as our daughter took our pictures at hefoot of the Monument.

On a cold December day we took the CTA Blue Line to Jackson street and walked out of the underground on Dearborn Street at the Federal Court Building.  We were just a block south of the Marquette Building which is home to Hermon MacNeil’s 1895 sculptures of 4 bronze relief panels [Cick Here] that tell the story Father Marquette explorations to Native peoples of Illinois.

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We walked past the Federal Courts, then turned east toward the Art Institute of Chicago.

There sculptor Edward Kemeys’ twin bronze Lions (Mr. Defiance and Mr. Prowl) greeted us at the entrance in their Holiday regalia. They have stood guard there since 1893 when Mrs. Henry Field commissioned them.

Above is “Mister ‘In-an-Attitude-of-Defiance’,” as he rests on a Christmas package that normally is his base.  The mood was festive as sixty people smiled and waited on the steps (between Mr. Prowler and Mr. Defiance) until the Museum doors were opened at 10 am.

1) Prowler and Defiance,  2)Mrs. Henry Field, and 3) Hermon MacNeil are all contemporaries of the 1893-95 era of the Chicago World’s Fair (Worlds Columbian Exposition).

Once inside we spent the morning admiring early art of Dutch and French collections. Eventually, we came opon a fovorite, Jules Adolphe Breton’s The Song of the Lark, (1884).

Part of the Field Collection, French artist, Jules Adolphe Breton's The Song of the Lark, 1884. is admired by a happy visitor.

Part of the Field Collection, French artist, Jules Adolphe Breton’s The Song of the Lark, 1884. is admired by a happy visitor.

After some lunch in the modern art area, we went to find MacNeil’s “Sun Vow”.  Here are my results.

While I could go on-and-on about this most famous of Uncle Hermon’s works, I will let my photographs speak for themselves.  Enjoy!

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 IMG_0681 IMG_0680 IMG_0679 IMG_0678 IMG_0677 IMG_0676 IMG_0675

IMG_0657

 

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“The Sun Vow”, Hermon MacNeil’s earliest acclaimed work, was exhibited around the world and still can be visited in museums and galleries today. This old photo postcard was purchased recently by the editor.

 

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“The Sun Vow” By Hermon Atkins MacNeil is seen here in an early B&W Photograph Postcard by photographer Gabriel Moulin, probably dating from the 1929 Exhibition of the National Sculpture Society at the newly completed California Palace of Legion of Honor, San Francisco.

“The Sun Vow” is pictured here in an early B&W Postcard by photographer Gabriel Moulin.

The likeness probably dates from the 1929 Exhibition of the National Sculpture Society at the newly completed California Palace of Legion of Honor, San Francisco.

The “Sun Vow” was also exhibited by MacNeil in the 1915 Panama-Pacific International Exposition in San Francisco, as well as, Exhibitions in Paris, Buffalo, and Saint Louis. The story of California Palace and its permanent reconstruction is an interesting one:

“The California Palace of the Legion of Honor originated as the French pavilion in San Francisco’s Panama-Pacific International Exposition of 1915. Alma de Bretteville Spreckels was so impressed with the pavilion that she offered to construct a permanent museum in its likeness, which was completed in 1924 and now stands as the Legion of Honor.”

(https://legionofhonor.famsf.org/legion/collections )

Thus the 1929 exhibit gave birth to this historic photo by Moulin. An previous image of this postcard was posted several years ago on this website at [click here]

https://hermonatkinsmacneil.com/2011/04/07/postcard-1-the-sun-vow-h-a-macneil-in-bw/

Several sculptures of Hermon Atkins MacNeil are featured in a current exhibition at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City continuing through April 13, 2014.  The show entitled “The American West in Bronze, 1850-1925”  contains three parts: Indians, wild animals, and cowboys.

A MacNeil "Sun Vow" sculpture housed in the Founder's gallery of the Reading Public Museum in Reading, PA

A MacNeil “Sun Vow” sculpture housed in the Founder’s gallery of the Reading Public Museum in Reading, PA

Another Chief of the Mulnomah

Another “Chief of the Mulnomah” was identified at Mount Vernon, Ohio in an August 2013 inquiry from Linnette Porter-Metler of the Mt. Vernon and Knox County Library Staff. The date ’03’ follows MacNeil’s signature.

Three MacNeil works of early Native American images are visible online in an 8 photo slide show of the exhibit. They are apparently part of the “Indians” segment of the show.  CLICK HERE for the link to this slide show.  The MacNeil works include The Chief of the Multnomah (slide #3 in left background); The Moqui Runner (slide #6 foreground); The Sun Vow (slide #6 right rear).  

The exhibit has received some criticism in a NY Times art review entitled  “Manifest Destiny at the Point of a Gun” by Ken Johnson.  The MacNeil pieces are specifically not mentioned in Johnson’s critique. 

(More on Ken Johnson’s comments in the another article.)

MacNeil's "Moqui Runner" at the Newberry Library (photo by webmaster - bkgd removed)

MacNeil’s “Moqui Runner” at the Reading Room of the Newberry Library  in Chicago. This piece is a gift of Edward Everett Ayer who encouraged and marketed 12 castings of this piece for MacNeil during his early years in Rome 1896-99.  (photo by Dan Leininger, webmaster – bkgd removed)

“The American West in Bronze, 1850-1925” continues through April 13 at the Metropolitan Museum of Art; 212-535-7710, metmuseum.org.

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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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