Hermon Atkins MacNeil


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Sculptor. Known especially for works illustrating American Indian subjects, he also addressed historical or allegorical themes in civic monuments and architectural embellishments. In his most famous piece, the bronze Sun Vow (Metropolitan Museum, 1898), an aging seated warrior transmits his heritage to a lithe nude youth, who extends his bow skyward in a gesture followed in the glance of both figures. Born near Boston, MacNeil studied there at the Massachusetts Normal Art School (now Massachusetts College of Art) before taking a teaching position at Cornell University in Ithaca, New York. In 1888 he departed for three years of training in Paris, including study at the École des Beaux-Arts under Alexandre Falguière. Upon his return, he went to Chicago to assist on preparations for the 1893 World's Columbian Exposition. American Indians performing at the fair stimulated his interest in their experience and prompted a trip to the Southwest. He left Chicago in 1896 to return to Europe, where he worked for three years in Rome and another in Paris. In 1900 he settled permanently in College Point, Queens. After about 1910, he turned his attention from Indian subjects to large-scale treatments of idealized themes appropriate to public commissions. His wife, sculptor CarolBrooksMacNeil (1871–1944), specialized in small bronzes, typically portraying children and genre subjects. She also made decorative tableware and other utilitarian objects. Born in Chicago, she studied at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago and worked as an assistant to Lorado Taft. Subsequently she studied with Frederick MacMonnies in Paris. Married in 1895, she devoted much of her time to domestic responsibilities following their return from Europe in 1900.

Subjects: Art.

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