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~ 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!

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Archive for “The Sun Vow”

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Part 3 of

“Sculptor Americanus”

citing Memories of

Hermon A. MacNeil

by Cecelia W. M. MacNeil

~  The Antiques Journal, June 1974 ~

 

Page 32 of Cecelia MacNeil with Dr. Allen Nestle. “Sculptor Americanus: Hermon Atkins MacNeil”. (Third in a Series of Three), The Antiques Journal, June 1974, pp. 32-35, 51.

Cecelia MacNeil in her third article in her series on Hermon MacNeil offers closing comments from her days with the sculptor.

The Narrative of her article repeats much that is contained in the “AUTOBIOGRAPHICAL SKETCH” dictated by MacNeil in 1943.  The stock photos accompanying the text are illustrative examples.  All predate the 1970s and are certainly not digital HD images as normally used on this cite.

As mentioned in the previous post, Cecelia was present when Hermon dictated these stories to his secretary, Marie Mutschler, to write down.  

She then typed his story into a  document containing 13 pages of single-spaced text.  My mother had a copy of that AUTOBIOGRAPHICAL SKETCH.  I believe she got that from my Aunt Jane, probably after Hermon’s death.  A copy was placed in the “MacNeil Papers” at the Cornell University Library Archives.  I visited there in 2014.

Page 33 of Cecelia MacNeil with Dr. Allen Nestle. “Sculptor Americanus: Hermon Atkins MacNeil”. (Third in a Series of Three), The Antiques Journal, June 1974, pp. 32-35, 51.

These were photocopies (xeroxes) of the original typing.  I typed the document into a digital file.  That made it easily retrievable, easily cited, and searchable. 

Cecelia MacNeil’s articles all seem to rely on this document, especially the 2nd and 3rd issues.  She and Dr. Nestle also cite the article noted in my post of Feb. 3rd, 2022. (Holden, Jean Stansbury (October 1907). “The Sculptors MacNeil“. The World’s Work: A History of Our Time XIV: 9403–9419.) [Retrieved from GOOGLE eBooks]  

The incident of Hermon rummaging in his studio workroom to fine some of his medals won at world fairs is quoted there by Holden. 

Another interview that seems to be drawn from is published by J. Walker McSpadden in Famous Sculptors of America published in 1924, pp. 307-326.  

Page 34 of Cecelia MacNeil with Dr. Allen Nestle. “Sculptor Americanus: Hermon Atkins MacNeil”. (Third in a Series of Three), The Antiques Journal, June 1974, pp. 32-35, 51.

Yet, in the years that Cecelia cared for both MacNeils followed by the years she and Hermon were married, she probably heard some of these stories directly from Hermon. 

Cecelia has done a faithful job of renewing the name of “Hermon Atkins MacNeil” in an era of forgotten Beaux Arts sculpture of the 1970s.

She closes the 3rd piece with thw story of the “STANDING LIBERTY QUARTER” and its TWO living models that MacNeil drew from in making.  

Doris Doscher Baum, and Irene MacDowell were both models that posed for MacNeil’s conception of Lady Liberty.  As discussed by the late Jay Cline in his book, Standing Liberty Quarters, both women can claim the honor of being the model for the Standing Liberty quarter.  Cline spent an entire lifetime and career dealing in these beautiful examples of American Renaissance coinage.

Page 35 of Cecelia MacNeil with Dr. Allen Nestle. “Sculptor Americanus: Hermon Atkins MacNeil”. (Third in a Series of Three), The Antiques Journal, June 1974, pp. 32-35, 51.

 

CECELIA MAC NEIL’S CONTRIBUTION TO MacNeil Month 2022.

In my opinion, the greatest donation to our further understanding of Hermon MacNeil is shared in her first article in the series.  

The story of “The Sun Vow” and her 12 birthday visit to see it.   What a Birthday surprise.  Her father’s visit to  the Metropolitan Museum of Art introduced the name of Hermon MacNeil.  That familiarity probably chartered her path to being engaged as a home-nurse to both MacNeil Sculptors. Then developed a life phase where she and   Hermon were both widowed and joined in marriage.

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Related posts:

  1. MacNeil Month 2022 ~ Week 1 ~ Cecelia MacNeil’s alarm for the Washington Arch in 1974. (4) Twenty-seven years after Hermon MacNeil’s death,  Cecelia Weick MacNeil, his…
  2. MacNeil’s “Standing Liberty Quarter” and “I’ve Got a Secret” April 4, 1966 (3) 100 years after the birth of Hermon MacNeil and fifty…
  3. February is “MacNeil Month” (2) One month from today, February 27, 2011 will mark the…
  4. 1901 Pan-American Exposition ~~ (Continued) (2) Sculptures that Hermon A. MacNeil’s exhibited for the 1901 Pan-American…
  5. Searching for Uncle Hermon in Chicago ~ “The Sun Vow” (cont.) (2) On a cold December day we took the CTA Blue…
  6. Searching for Uncle Hermon in Chicago ~ Part 2 ~ “Vow of Vengeance” (2) My recent post about our December 3rd journey on the..
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Cecelia W. Muench MacNeil

In 1944 Carol Louise Brooks MacNeil died after extended illness. 

During her months of declining health, she was nursed at home by her family and a home health nurse named, Cecelia Weick Muench, RN. 

Cecelia MacNeil, RN (1945). Born Cecelia Weick in 1897. She served as a nurse in WWI in the European theater. She married Karl Weick in about 1920.

Cecelia Weick had served in the US Army as a battlefield Nurse during the World WarCaring for wound soldiers in war zones during WWI, she was no stranger to trauma and suffering.

As a young girl, her father taught her to appreciate art and took her to museums.  He introduced her to “The Sun Vow” at the MMA.  He told her that Hermon MacNeil was a “great American sculptor”. So she knew the name and fame of the Sculptors Macneil all her adult life.

So when an opportunity came for Cecelia to enter the MacNeil home and care for Carol during her dying months, she was more than just “another nurse.”  She was a battle-hardened R.N. who could appreciate the works and careers of these two sculptors as their lives were parting in the months of Carol’s dying. 

She must have brought a nurse’s compassion and an art lovers appreciation with her into this family of sculptors.

In her later years, Cecelia described herself by saying:

“I am familiar, too familiar, with death and dying, with the totality that is the human condition.” 1

She had a front row seat to Hermon’s lived-grief over the loss of his “Carrie.”  But as Carol’s condition worsened, the needs exceeded the home-care options of the day.  She was admitted to the Jamacia (Queens) Hospital.

Eventually, Carol Brooks MacNeil died there on June 22, 1944.

With the death of Carol MacNeil on June 22, 1944, the fifty-year partnership of the “Sculptors MacNeil” ended.  Their connection which began in the “White City” of the Chicago Worlds Fair, continued through their years of training in Rome and Paris, maturing in Queens, NY, during the four decades they shared their College Point Studio and home.

For the next two years Hermon MacNeil continued to live alone in his College Point home.   Next door was to the stone Studio building where he and Carol had sculpted together through the years of their marriage.   Hermon must have felt an emptiness without Carol in his life, home and studio.

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

Two 2nd Marriages

Hermon married Cecilia W. Muench in 1945.  Cecelia was nearly 30 years younger than Hermon.  Both of them had been recently widowed.

After serving in the World War, Cecelia Muench had married and continued her career as a RN.  In 1940 a snapshot of her life was captured in the 1940 U.S. Census.  She was 43 years old living in Queens, New York, with Karl, her husband, two daughters, Dorothy (18), Sarah (17) and a son, Karl (13).   Her mother, Anna Weick also lived with the family. 

Cecilia Weick first heard the name of “Hermon Atkins MacNeil” in 1909 on her 12th birthday.  To celebrate, her father took her to the Metropolitan Museum of Art.  Ascending into the American Wing, they sat down on a bench near MacNeil’s sculpture group of “The Sun Vow.”  After at least five minutes of silence my father commented.

“Ceil, the man who created this work is surely one of the greatest American Sculptors. Never, never forget his name.”

I am still a romantic.  My father’s words were to be part of my destiny.  37 years later I married Hermon Atkins MacNeil.

The photo on the cover shows the original plaster model of Hermon Atkins MacNeil’s “The Sun Vow”, executed in Rome while the sculptor was on a Reinhart scholarship.

Cecelia told this story of her 12th birthday in opening paragraphs of an article that she published in 1974, under the title, “Sculptor Americanus: Hermon Atkins MacNeil.” 1 Two additional articles completed the series of her remembrances.

Sculptor Americanus

MORE from this series of articles by Cecelia Weick MacNeil will be told in …

— February 2022 —

“MacNeil Month”

So return

here

to

 

https://hermonatkinsmacneil.com/

for

MORE!

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

SOURCES:

  1. Cecelia MacNeil with Dr. Allen Nestle. “Sculptor Americanus: Hermon Atkins MacNeil”.   (First in a Series of Three), The Antiques Journal, April 1974,  pp. 10-13, 54.
  2. Lynn H. Burnett. (Editor’s Comments:)“Hermon Atkins MacNeil in Historical Perspective”.  The Antiques Journal April 1974, pp. 4, 5, 48.
  3. Cecelia MacNeil with Dr. Allen Nestle. “Sculptor Americanus: Hermon Atkins MacNeil”.   (Second in a Series of Three), The Antiques Journal, May 1974,  pp. 28-31.
  4. Cecelia MacNeil with Dr. Allen Nestle. “Sculptor Americanus: Hermon Atkins MacNeil”.   (Third in a Series of Three), The Antiques Journal, June 1974,  pp. 32-35, 51.
  5.  

 

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 the foot 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

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

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