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 “Tortoise and the Hare”

“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/

   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/ )

 

Pat 'n Jim guard Patten Gym at Northwestern University in Evanston, Illinois just north of Chicago.

MacNeil’s “Pat and Jim” were recently remembered as a play place.

"Physical Development" or "Jim," for short, achieves victory over his opponent in front of Patten Gym at Northwestern University.

“We used to climb on them,” Cindy told me yesterday. Cindy explained how as a child she would climb up from the back “Jim” to sit on his shoulders. Her perch atop this eight foot tall bronze athlete must have delighted both the little girl and the 40-something woman who now walked across Sheridan Road to inform me of her childhood game.

At the time I was photographing “Jim,” more correctly, “Physical Development,” as MacNeil titled the piece in 1916.For the last 94 years, “Jim” has stood outside Patten Gym on the northern edge of the Northwestern University campus in Evanston, Illinois.

His nearly century long vigil has been shared by his partner piece, “Pat,” or more correctly, “Intellectual Development,” as the companion sculpture was named. For a previous story on these two works go to this “Patten Gym” posting.

As quickly as Cindy appeared, she quickly went on to her next destination. I wish I had gotten her full name and photo to post here.   I have found no previous MacNeil enthusiasts who have successfully climbed one of his  sculpture.  I suppose children are more welcome than we  adults.

"H. A. MacNeil 1916" ~ The sculptor's signature and date on the base of "Pat," a.k.a. "Athletic Development"

While the abstract themes of “Physical and Intellectual Development” were what the campus designers envisioned and what Hermon A. MacNeil delivered in the “Beaux Arts,” style, the two classic Greco-Roman figures of athlete accomplishment and scholarly wisdom were soon to receive more manageable “nicknames.” As a previous post on this website suggests:

Northwestern students, however, have given them the ‘very punny’ nicknames of “Pat and Jim” or more colloquially, “Pat’nJim.”  The similarity to “Patten Gym” is quite amusing.  Such whimsy may have been known by MacNeil in his day.  His choice of the ‘tortoise and the hare’ pair on the Supreme Court pediment document his own whimsy in stone.    Let us all smile as well!

"Pat" or "Intellectual Development" holds a septer bearing the initial "N," as in Northwestern, with the owl poised for flight in front of Patten Gym.

The Northwestern University website tells the story in this way:

In the building’s early years its entranceway was ornamented with pure gold plating, and in 1917 Patten commissioned artist Hermon MacNeil to design statuary appropriate to an atmosphere of athletic aspiration. MacNeil responded with bronze figures of a man and a woman. The statues have been known to generations of students by the fond nicknames of “Pat” and “Jim.” When in 1939 Northwestern planned the construction of the Technological Institute, it was clear that the Patten Gymnasium would have to be moved to accommodate the new engineering building. Subsequently a decision was made to demolish the structure and construct a new gymnasium, also to be named for James Patten. One of the most important events held in the building during its final year was the first NCAA basketball tournament, on March 27, 1939, where the University of Oregon Ducks beat the Ohio State Buckeyes by a score of 46-33.

The vanquished opponent falls in defeat.

The companion figure to "Intellectual Development"

The original Patten Gymnasium was razed on April 1, 1940. MacNeil’s statues were retained and today grace the entrance of the present Patten Gymnasium, dedicated during Homecoming on November 2, 1940.

The art was completed by Hermon A. MacNeil in 1916. These Northwestern commissions were completed in 1916, the same year as the minting of the first Standing Liberty Coin (click to see more).

It was a busy period in MacNeil’s career.

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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]

The entrance to Northwestern’s Patten Gym in Evanston, Illinois is flacked by two sculptures by Hermon MacNeil.  The figures cast in 1916 for the first Patten Gymnasium were moved to the Second (New) Patten Gym in 1940.  The two bronze castings depict a male athlete in victory and a female figure in academic pursuit entitled ‘Physical Development’ and ‘Intellectual Development’  respectively.

Hermon Atkins MacNeil about the time of the Patten Gym sculptures and his Standing Liberty Quarter minting.

Northwestern students, however, have given them the ‘very punny’ nicknames of “Pat and Jim” or more colloquially, “Pat’nJim.”  The similarity to “Patten Gym” is quite amusing.  Such whimsy may have been known by MacNeil in his day.  His choice of the ‘tortoise and the hare’ pair on the Supreme Court pediment document his own whimsy in stone.    Let us all smile as well!

The figures appear to be about 9 feet tall.  An on-site examination and photographs will be made on my next trip to Chicago area in several months.

Physical Development and Intellectual Development Link- Click on this link to Waymarking.com to view a five photo gallery with descriptions of the art posted by adqorn and silverquill in June 2009

The Northwestern University website states the history in the following manner:

In the building’s early years its entranceway was ornamented with pure gold plating, and in 1917 Patten commissioned artist Hermon MacNeil to design statuary appropriate to an atmosphere of athletic aspiration. MacNeil responded with bronze figures of a man and a woman. The statues have been known to generations of students by the fond nicknames of “Pat” and “Jim.” When in 1939 Northwestern planned the construction of the Technological Institute, it was clear that the Patten Gymnasium would have to be moved to accommodate the new engineering building. Subsequently a decision was made to demolish the structure and construct a new gymnasium, also to be named for James Patten. One of the most important events held in the building during its final year was the first NCAA basketball tournament, on March 27, 1939, where the University of Oregon Ducks beat the Ohio State Buckeyes by a score of 46-33.

The original Patten Gymnasium was razed on April 1, 1940. MacNeil’s statues were retained and today grace the entrance of the present Patten Gymnasium, dedicated during Homecoming on November 2, 1940.

[mappress]

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