Organizations* : AFA, NSS, SAA
Born in Chelsea, Massachusetts, Hermon Atkins MacNeil became a well-known sculptor of Indian subjects, commemorative works and medals including the designing of the medal of award for the 1915 Pan American Exposition in San Francisco and the quarter dollar for the United States government. He was also a teacher. His sculptures are in many locations including the Supreme Court Building in Washington DC, the State Capitol Buildings in Connecticut and Missouri, and the City Park in Portland, Oregon.
He studied at the Massachusetts Normal Art School in Boston. Until 1888, he was the first drawing instructor at Cornell University and taught at Pratt Institute in Brooklyn. He then went to Paris to study at the Ecole des Beaux-Arts and at the Julian Academy. In 1891, he returned to the United States as assistant to Philip Martiny on architectural sculpture for the 1893 World’s Columbian Exposition in Chicago.
MacNeil taught at the Art Institute of Chicago for three years and made several trips West to study Indians first hand for his sculpture because he did not like to rely solely on studio models. From 1896 to 1899, he was in Rome on a Rinehart Scholarship for sculptors, and during this time he created one of his most famous works, "The Sun Vow," for which he won a Silver Medal at the Paris Exposition of 1900.
Just before World War II, he designed the United States quarter dollar. Later in his career, he switched emphasis from Indian subjects to monumental works, primarily celebrating national heroes.
Reference: Peggy and Harold Samuels, The Illustrated Biographical Encyclopedia of Artists of the American West and Peter Falk, Who Was Who in American Art (1999)