4 December 1996,
New York, Park Avenue
Price realised USD 63,000
USD 40,000 - USD 60,000
Hermon Atkins MacNeil (1866-1947)
'The Returning of the Snakes - The Moqui Prayer for Rain', A Bronze Group
inscribed 'THE RETURNING OF THE SNAKES', 'THE MOQUI PRAYER.FOR.RAIN', 'H.A. MACNEIL Sc.' and 'Fond.Nelli.Roma.'
22½in. (57.2cm.) high, reddish greenish brown patina
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After a traditional art school training and apprenticeship in Paris (in the ateliers of Chapu and Falquiere), MacNeil returned to the United States in 1891. He immediately found work as a sculptural assistant at the World's Columbian Exposition. There he first encountered native American Indians and became fascinated with their daily routines, their ceremonies and their beliefs. In 1895, he won the prestigious Rinehart Scholarship in for four years study in Rome.
The present model, his first sculptural effort after the Roman sojourn, reflects the lessons of anatomy, expressive modelling and treatment of the figure in motion which he learned from the study of Antiquity. The work depicts a naked Indian preist furiously running through the Mesa in order to release the tangle of rattlesnakes just used in his prayer for rain. The combination of MacNeils' academic training and masterly technique has elevated this "romantic" image of the West to heroic stature.
L. Taft, The History of American Sculpture, New York, 1903, pp. 439-440
P. Broder, Bronzes of the American West, New York, 1974, p. 88
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