WELCOME to the “Hermon A. MacNeil” — Virtual Gallery & Museum !

~ 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!

DO YOU walk by MacNeil Statues and NOT KNOW IT ???

Archive for University of Illinois

In the early 1900s, because of his knowledge and authorship on American Sculpture, Lorado Taft was referred to by many as ‘the Dean of American Sculpture.’   He offered early praise for Hermon Atkins MacNeil.  His admiration of MacNeil’s work continued into the 1920s when he recommended MacNeil’s “Lawyer Lincoln” bust to the University Of Illinois to grace the spiral entry foyer of Lincoln Hall.

In Chapter XXIII of his volume “THE HISTORY OF AMERICAN SCULPTURE” (originally published in 1903), Taft offers the following praise of the young MacNeil:


 The opening twentieth century brings before us a group of young sculptors equipped by nature and by training as in the past few Americans have been. …

One of the most promising of this number is Hermon A. MacNeil.

Marquette Panel #4 (detail)

Well equipped with the training which the Parisian studios give, Mr. MacNeil was early discontented with the banality of modern sculptural themes. The makeshift subjects of his comrades seemed to him unworthy. He wanted to do things more original and more truly expressive. Western life and the Indian had for him a great appeal, and he made several trips to the redman’s reservations north and west, in order to study what he considered the most sculptural motifs which America offers.

His reliefs over the doors of the Marquette building in Chicago — scenes of the life and death [ p. 437 > p. 438 ] of Pere Marquette — show to what good use he put his material. He was wont to talk of the artistic possibilities of the Indian in sculpture with an enthusiasm that was eloquent if not always convincing. To him they were as fine as Greek warriors and as worthy to be immortalized. …

More of Taft’s critique on H. A. MacNeil will be offered in upcoming postings on HermonAtkinsMacNeil.com.

Hermon MacNeil's sculpture of Abe Lincoln wears a 'Happy Birthday' Hat

Abe Lincoln is helping celebrate Hermon A. MacNeil’s birthday on February 27th of this week. The sculptor was born in 1866 in Chelsea, Mass nearly ten months after Mr. Lincoln was assassinated.

Actually, the statue’s festive hat shown here was for the 100th birthday of the Spurlock Museum at the University of Illinois where the restored sculpture has been displayed for the last year.

This week the Abe Lincoln will be moved by university officials (not the Statue Liberation Society as in 1979 – CLICK HERE).  After March 1st the bust will be set into place in the refurbished Lincoln Hall.

Only three days remain to see the restored statue of Abraham Lincoln in-the-round, the way Hermon MacNeil sculpted it.

A visit to Illinois last week included a stop at the Abe Lincoln bust at Spurlock Museum at U of I. The sculpture will no longer be viewable in-the-round after being returned to its permanent home in the sparklingly-restored Lincoln Hall on campus.

MacNeil’s Abe Lincoln bust of the clean-shaven Illinois lawyer, senator and orator has become a beloved icon of Campus history.  The MacNeil work of Lincoln will continue to greet students, visitors and staff from central prominence in the spiral stairway.  It gives dramatic focus to the Main Entrance of the Hall named for this favorite son.   

The relocation will add the ‘crowning’ touch to the Main Lobby.  Once again, MacNeil’s ‘Lawyer Lincoln’ will look out from his perch in the circular stairwell.

In traveling through Champaign-Urbana, the Spurlock Museum was open last Saturday.  I made some poor-quality video of the statue in its 360 degree perspective and viewed again the MacNeil signature and ‘Roman Bronze Works’ marking on the rear of the piece.

MacNeil’s Lincoln, unlike most sculptures of him, is the ‘Lawyer Lincoln.’  Mr. Lincoln’s thirty-years in Illinois were the formative experiences that prepared him to be the statesman and leader of world-renown that he became as U.S. President during the preservation of the Union. (See the Feb 12th posting below)

The Lincoln bust will no longer be viewable in~the~round after this week.

Time is running out to see the refurbished Abraham Lincoln statue in-the-round, the way Hermon MacNeil sculpted it. 

MacNeil's Lincoln bust is beautifully restored on public display in the Spurlock Museum

We are told that the Spurlock Museum’s exhibit may end this spring or early summer.  The restored piece by Hermon A. MacNeil will return to the pristinely resurrected Lincoln Hall.  The relocation awaits the completion of the Main Lobby of the newly refurbished Hall.

Once again, MacNeil’s ‘Lawyer Lincoln’ will returned to his perch in the niche of the circular stairway.

Last time I traveled through Champaign, the Spurlock Museum was closed for the Christmas-New Year holidays.  I wanted to video the statue in its 360 degree perspective and rephotograph the MacNeil signature and ‘Roman Bronze Works’ marking on the rear of the piece.

MacNeil’s Lincoln, unlike most sculptures of him, is the ‘Lawyer Lincoln.’ He is clean-shaven, no beard, no ‘Mr. President Lincoln.’

This is THE Abe Lincoln of the ‘Land of Lincoln:’

  • Who came to Macon County in 1830 and build his father’s cabin.
  • Who would live in Illinois for the next 30 years.
  • Who settled in New Salem in 1831 to manage the mill.
  • Who volunteered with the Sangamon County company going to the Indian war in 1832.
  • Who returned to be appointed Postmaster of New Salem.
  • Who was elected to the State Legislature in 1834, 1836, 1838 and 1840.
  • Who courted Ann Rutledge, who died of ‘brain fever’ in 1835.
  • Who moved to the new Capitol in Springfield in 1837 to enter the practice of LAW with John T. Stuart.
  • Who Married Mary Todd of Kentucky in 1842.
  • Who was elected to Congress as a Whig in 1848.
  • Who traveled from Springfield by horseback across the County Seats of the Illinois Eighth Circuit Court.
  • Who argued over 5000 cases ranging from murder to boundary disputes
  • Who spoke in a simple and straightforward manner understandable by any farmer or citizen on the jury.
  • Whose quaint, homely stories were often filled with wit and humor and that made the point clearly.
  • Who campaigned for the the US Senate denouncing Stephen Douglas’popular sovereignty” doctrine.
  • Who received 110 ballots for nomination as Vice-President at the 1856 Republican National Convention.
  • Who delivered his “House Divided” speech at the Republican State convention of 1858.
  • Who challenged his opponent, Stephen Douglas, to seven debates across the state of Illinois in the 1858 Senatorial campaign.
  • Who from 1858 to 1860 made speeches throughout many states defining the Republican Party’s position.
  • Who won the Republican Party nomination and was elected President of the United States in 1860.
  • Who left Illinois after 30 years to seek to keep those same States “United.”
  • Whose body was returned to Illinois in 1865 for entombment in Oak Ridge Cemetery, Springfield”
  • Hermon A. MacNeil's "Lincoln Lawyer" at the University of Illinois

  • “Now he belongs to the Ages”

As mentioned in the previous post of July 22, the Lincoln Hall statue at University of Illinois was cast from a standing Lincoln original plaster sculpture. The Smithsonian Institute archives contain a photo of that piece on right. [or CLICK HERE]

The Smithsonian Institute archives contain this photo of MacNeil's Lincoln standing.

MacNeil's "Lincoln Lawyer" from U of I's Lincoln Hall was modeled from the larger standing Lincoln plaster original

Note the folded arms, the papers in the right hand, and the young clean-shaven Lawyer Lincoln.  The resemblance of the Lincoln Hall figure (left) to the Smithsonian photo (right) is apparent (even in the reduced images seen here).

MacNeil’s original plaster statue of Lincoln (standing) very likely has been lost to the ages.  He sculpted it in 1914 for a competition of the Art Commission of Illinois.  They sought a statue for the City of Springfield. After the commission chose another sculpture, MacNeil worked with Roman Bronze Works  to cast 8 Lincoln busts from the original standing  Lincoln. 

The original may have been destroyed, or more probably, was stored in Roman Bronze Works  (RBW) warehouse . There it would have been subject to the foundry activities, moves, changes and decay of that facility’s history over the  past 100 years since MacNeil created the fragile plaster Lawyer Lincoln.  (Many renowned sculptors desired the “lost wax” method of casting which RBW made available in the U.S. ) During the thirty years from 1897 to 1927,  Roman Bronze Works resided in New York City. The story of RBW  after 1927 seems a bit more complicated:

Roman Bronze Works in New York City, established in 1897 by Ricardo Bertelli, was the pre-eminent sculpture bronze foundry in the United States during the American Renaissance. It continued to cast sculpture after that period ended. Its foundry, long a sub-contractor to Louis Comfort Tiffany‘s Tiffany Studios, moved to Tiffany’s Corona, New York, red brick factory in 1927.[1]

Roman Bronze Works, which made Tiffany’s bronze accessories and lamp bases, moved to Tiffany’s Corona facility in 1927. Roman Bronze Works was purchased in 1946 by Salvatore Schiavo, whose father had been working at the foundry since 1902. His nephew, Philip J. Schiavo, the grandson of the first Schiavo, was the president of the foundry until its closing.[4]

Roman Bronze Works 1890s New York City

 After the foundry closed, an auction was staged of original plaster models of major works by American artists, Frederic Remington, Daniel Chester French, Charles Russell, Bessie Potter Vonnoh and Anna Hyatt Huntington, in New York, 17 September 1988.[5] Some of the molds were moved to warehouse space in Copiague, New York, under the aegis of American Art Restoration, Inc..[6] Fortunately the business archives were preserved and are now at the Amon Carter Museum Library, Fort Worth, Texas.[7]In addition, the foundry has recently been reopened as Roman Bronze Studios by Brain Ramnarine who apprenticed and worked at Roman Bronze Works with Salvatore and Philip Schiavo.  (Source: Wikipedia  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Roman_Bronze_Works )

Whether MacNeil’s original plaster model of the standing Lincoln was transported in the 1927 move, or was part of the ownership transfer of 1946 (the year before MacNeil died), or was sold in the 1988 auction of American artists has yet to be documented by this researcher. Perhaps, it was destroyed after the eight busts were cast.  Though no recored of that is found either.Lucy C Rosenfield's RBW book  [A 2002 book  devoted to Roman Bronze Works, by Lucy D. Rosenfeld, A Century of American Sculpture The Roman Bronze Works Foundry bears a photo of MacNeil’s “Sun Vow” on the cover. Rosenfeld used the firm’s ledgers and archival photographs now stored at the Amon Carter Museum. This volume warrants future investigation].


  • The bust in Urbana was placed in Lincoln Hall in 1929.
  • This procurement suggested by Lorado Taft occurred fifteen years after the original sculpture was made.
  • The University of Illinois “Lincoln Lawyer” is the only one of MacNeil’s Lincoln busts pictured on this website,
  • It is the only one ever seen by this author,
  • It remains the only one readily found by web searching in general.
  • It is a truly beautiful piece that is now restored to its original patina and brilliance.

Art and museum records locate four of MacNeil’s eight “Lincoln Lawyer” castings. the  others “Lincoln Lawyer” busts by MacNeil appear incomplete as follows:

The fact that MacNeil made a “Lincoln Lawyer” statue was catalogued 60 years ago, along with the Lincoln likenesses sculpted by over 125 other sculptors.   Donald Charles Durman assembled a “List of Sculptures of Abraham Lincoln” in his 1951 book, “He Belongs to the Ages: The Statues of Abraham Lincoln” (published by Edwards Brothers, Ann Arbor, Michigan, 1951).  The Smithsonian American Art Museum inventory lists only 3 locations of MacNeil’s other Lincoln busts.  The University of Illinois bust of Lincoln is NOT listed among them.  Thus, four of the eight are documented publicly.  The Smithsonian records indicate the following listings:
  1. University of Pennsylvania, Office of the Curator, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania – Control_Number: 77001611
  2. Beloit College, Wright Museum of Art, Beloit, Wisconsin – Control_Number: 75008855
  3. Amherst College, Mead Art Museum, Amherst, Massachusetts: Control_Number: 20090014
  4. Amherst College, Mead Art Museum, Amherst, Massachusetts 01002 Accession Number: S.1932.4

Source: Smithsonian American Art Museum ~ SIRIS

This past Friday I stopped at Spurlock Museum on the University of Illinois campus to see the newly refurbished bust of Abraham Lincoln that will return to the renovated Lincoln Hall in 2012.

Holly Koreb, Senior Director, and Dave  Evensen, both from the Office of Communications and Marketing at U of I’s College of Liberal Arts and Sciences,  met me at the museum for a guided viewing and photos.  She sent the  photo of me and Abe added below.  That is Abe on the left.  Thanks, Holly! 

(And BTW, Hermon A. MacNeil was my 1st Cousin twice removed.  But since he considered himself my mother’s Uncle Hermon and I think he was Great, I now consider him my Great Uncle Hermon.)  Back to the Lawyer Lincoln statue …

Beautifully restored and on public display at the Spurlock Museum. “H. A. MacNeil” is the signature on the left hand side of this Lincoln Bust. “Roman Bronze Works” is the foundry mark in small letters on the left rear corner

Examining MacNeil’s creation up close was a true thrill.  The restoration is beautifully done. The  rich brown patina gives the piece a radiance that has not been seen in half a century or more.

Webmaster Dan Leininger visited the Spurlock exhibit of MacNeil’s restored Lincoln Bust last week. (Tour and Photo courtesy of Holly Koreb).

The chance to find and record the MacNeil signature and foundry markings (see below) were a rare treat that will prove impossible in the bust’s niche at Lincoln Hall.

The display panel at the Spurlock states, in part:

The bust, by Hermon A. MacNeil, depicts Lincoln as a young lawyer with his arms folded holding a legal document in his right hand.  It was based on a full figured piece that MacNeil had submitted to the Art Commission of Illinois in a 1914 competition seeking a statue for the city of Springfield.

Although the design was not chosen, MacNeil cast eight busts from the upper part of the sculpture.  In this special exhibit it is possible for the first time to view the bust outside its niche.  You can see MacNeil’s fine work from all sides before it is returned to Lincoln Hall in 2012.

Lincoln the Lawyer , as depicted in Macneil’s sculpture, is one the least known aspects of this great American, BUT probably the BEST place to appreciate his skills, character and talents as a human being.  A segment of  an article from American History Magazine tells the ‘Lawyer – Lincoln’  story in this way:

Abraham Lincoln spent only four of his 56 years as president of the United States. Yet, given the importance of the events that marked his 1861-65 term of office, the nation’s admiration for him as a man of courage and principle, and the abundance of photographic images that recorded his presidency, it is hard for most people to think of him as anything else.  But there were other facets to the career of this man who led the nation through the Civil War years. Prior to his presidency, Lincoln honed his political skills and aspirations through the practice of law. 

 “The bulk of Lincoln’s courtroom work took place away from Springfield as he traveled twice a year with the presiding judge and fellow lawyers to the county seats of Illinois’ Eighth Circuit Court. Since most of those who served on the juries in these small towns were farmers and other country folk, Lincoln–himself a product of a rural environment and by nature a slow talker–recognized the need to argue his cases in the simplest and most straightforward manner. As one observer noted, ‘his illustrations were often quaint and homely, but always clear and apt, and generally conclusive. . . . His wit and humor and inexhaustible store of anecdotes, always to the point, added immensely to his powers as a jury advocate.'”  (Abraham Lincoln: The Lawyer.  American History |  Published: June 12, 2006 at 8:02 pm.  CLICK HERE to see entire article )

History records that Abraham Lincoln traveled the Eighth Circuit of Illinois for nearly a quarter of a century. He stood and spoke to citizens in courtrooms involving over 5000 cases ranging from sensational murder cases to the less glamorous issues of property ownership. (Adapted from David Wiegers, Gurnee, Illinois in his comments on Larado Taft’s standing Lincoln statue in Urbana, Illinois )

The statue is listed, along with over 125 others, in a “List of sculptures of Abraham Lincoln” from Donald Charles Durman’s book “He Belongs to the Ages: The Statues of Abraham Lincoln” (published by Edwards Brothers, Ann Arbor, Michigan, 1951).  The Smithsonian American Art Museum inventory lists of 3 locations for some of MacNeil’s other eight Lincoln busts.  This  bust belonging to the University of Illinois is not listed among them.  They are as follows:
  1. Amherst College, Mead Art Museum, Amherst, Massachusetts 01002 Accession Number: S.1932.4
  2. University of Pennsylvania, Office of the Curator, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania – Control_Number: 77001611
  3. Beloit College, Wright Museum of Art, Beloit, Wisconsin – Control_Number: 75008855
  4. Amherst College, Mead Art Museum, Amherst, Massachusetts: Control_Number: 20090014

Source: Smithsonian American Art Museum ~ SIRIS

For an archive of Lincoln Bust postings click here:


Related posts:

  1. “Honest Abe” On Public Display ~ MacNeil Month #7 (15.4) At the University of Illinois, Abraham Lincoln has been released…
  2. Happy Birthday Mr. Lincoln! ~ MacNeil’s Sculpture Released from Vault ~ MacNeil Month #4 (14.3)Abe Lincoln will be a little late for his 202nd…
  3. MacNeil Bust of Lincoln Stored in Vault (13.5) Hermon Atkins MacNeil would probably be amused to know that…











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Hermon MacNeil’s bust of Abe Lincoln DID NOT go out for a walk in 1979. It WAS KIDNAPPED! [Since the bust has no legs, we thought the original “walk and fresh air” story was bogus in the first place.]

Holly Koreb, Senior Director, of the Office of Communications and Marketing at U of I’s College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, confirmed our suspicions in a message today. She has informed us (within the hour) that a public confession has been posted in audio on the LAS website.  [ www.lincolnhall.illinois.edu/storyography ]

Artist's rendition of the NEW Security system for Lincoln bust! Looks rather flimsy from here.

The anonymous culprit ‘claims’ to be a member of a group of ‘supposed’ pre-professionals who eventually formed themselves into the notorious Statue Liberation Society (hereafter the ‘S.L.S.’).

This student, now an alumnus, garbles on for 7 minutes and 22 seconds [ in a disguised voice] about a harmless prank that resulted  in the kidnapping of the 16th President from his prominent perch in the circular stairwell of Lincoln Hall.

The disguised culprit, now in his seeming mid-life repose, says in part:  “We alerted University police [of the bust’s whereabouts], and certainly we were not responsible for any damage or any scratches that appeared later.” —anonymous member of the Statue Liberation Society

This statement of ‘non-responsibility’ emits fumes of self-satisfaction, deception and a possible lack of understanding of “good clean fun”. (While we will defer to qualified historians of Illini lore for details on this organization, it does seem to be a post-incident fabrication to cover pranks that escalated to grand theft – not to mention the heinous act of kidnapping of a dead president.)

But in a conciliatory effort to NOT rub S.L.S. ‘noses’ in their infamous-hidden past, but to offer instead, a ‘fresh’ renovation to student life, we at HermonAtkinsMacNeil.com propose:

  1. That the Statue Liberation Society (S.L.S.) anonymously raise a challenge-reparation of $50,000 to be contributed to the existing ‘Lincoln Hall Scholarship Fund’.
  2. That these donations be met and exceeded by matching gifts from the faculty, staff, alumni and students of U of I.
  3. That the S.L.S. then be invited to shed their cloak of anonymity in a true ‘Lincoln-Douglas’ style of honesty.
  4. And that a spirit of ‘New Beginning’ be initiated by all parties with a rub of Lincoln’s refurbished nose in his new perch at the dedication of the new Lincoln Hall.

We think even our ‘UNCLE HERMON’ would smile at a ‘prank’ like that. 😆

Good Clean Fun for the next student generation!


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
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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