Saturday, August 19, 2006

The Marquette Building

The Marquette building, designed by Holabird and Roche in 1895, is one of those great, elegant, masculine, big-windowed Chicago office buildings -- and no expense was spared in its construction -- including the services of the young sculptor,Herman Atkins MacNeil (1866-1947), fresh back from Paris and ready to tackle a real challenge: how to tell an elaborate story - and still express the simple strength of this building's facade.

.. the success of which I think is shown in the above detail -- where the characters in a narrative also serve as architectural elements.

I'm not quite sure what's happening here -- and I guess the fun would gone if I ever looked it up.

Am I looking at N.C. Wyeth's illustrations for "Last of the Mohicans" -- or am I entering an office building ? This is the puzzle that I loved to ponder ...

back when I actually did work in this office building -- my first job when I came to Chicago -- as an office-temp in the publications division of a brokerage house.

He went on to specialize in Indians (with pieces now in the Met and the AIC) but I don't know that MacNeil ever got any better -- these pieces, despite their frenzied detail -- really do complement the building. (I'm guessing that the architects were watching him closely)- and I like the idea of all these tall, skinny, half-naked, wild anarchists - with big hooked noses - forever challenging that plump, proper priest.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

The artist's name is Hermon Atkins Macneil,,Not Herman

October 19, 2006  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

His name is Herman Atkins MacNeil.
Born In 2/27/1866 to John Clinton MacNeil and Mary Lash MacNeil. He Married Carol Brooks.

He was my Great Uncle.

Donald Lash MacNeil

October 31, 2006  
Blogger chris miller said...

Thankyou for your correction, Donald -- but most of the world is currently spelling the name "Hermon".

(Google prefers "Hermon" by about ten to one - and that's how Wikipedia currently spells it)

Can you provide some visual evidence for the correct spelling ? Like -- a photo of his tombstone perhaps ?

Your great uncle was a great sculptor - and the least we can do is spell his name right !

November 01, 2006  
Blogger Unknown said...

"Hermon" spelled his name with an "O" not an "A."
For his signature on various sculptures see my website:

For several hundreds examples and a copy of the marriage license of Carol Louise Brooks and Hermon Atkins MacNeil search my website dedicated to them both.

"Herman" was a common misspelling. His family spelled it the same as "Mount Hermon" in the Bible.

Daniel Neil Leininger

September 22, 2013  
Blogger Donald MacNeil said...

I it was very careless. I
have some of his original clays here in my home in Chicago. One them is of a World War I aviator

June 15, 2016  

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