James Haas, author of Hermon Atkin MacNeil: American Sculptor in the Broad, Bright Daylight submitted these thoughts on artists Emil Fuchs and Hermon MacNeil.
I have always had an interest in the trajectory taken of the artists whose lives paralleled that of Hermon Atkins MacNeil. The E-Sylum never fails to rouse my curiosity, case in point Emil Fuchs. Six months younger than MacNeil, Fuchs was born in Vienna, Austria on August 9, 1866; MacNeil on February 27, 1866 in Everett, then called Malden, in Massachusetts. Fuchs had his early training in Europe; MacNeil had his in the Massachusetts Normal Art School, and then, having been awarded the first Rinehart scholarship in sculpture in 1895, in Rome. As his years increased, so too did the number of his trips to Europe. The same held true for Fuchs who made annual visits to America, usually business related, from 1906 through 1915 when he decided to become an American citizen.
Fuchs was at heart a European artist, a medalist, painter and sculptor of significant talent. His patrons and subjects were members of the British aristocracy and nobility, notably Queen Victoria and Edward, the second child and eldest son of Queen Victoria and Prince Albert. Among his works was a medal in her honor modeled in 1900, another to commemorate the coronation of King Edward VII and Queen Alexandra in 1902. In that same year appeared a one penny stamp with a profile of the new king. Never before had English stamps had the picture of a man's head on them.
When in America Fuchs occupied a studio in Manhattan's Bryant Park, there executing portraits of many New York City doyennes and socialites. He also designed the medal to commemorate the city's Hudson-Fulton's 100 th anniversary celebration commissioned by the American Numismatic and Archaeological Association.
MacNeil was a through and through champion of American art at first lauded for modeling the American Indian and in time, also for producing statues and groups; medals, a famous coin, memorials, large and small, portrait busts and paintings, too. Fuchs had John Singer Sargent as his teacher; MacNeil, William Bourgerau and Jean-Léon Gérôme.
Other than their taking part in the National Sculpture Society's 1923 exhibition there appear to be no instances where their names appeared together. Both men were multi-faceted artists whose works were celebrated. Articles indicate they enjoyed giving lectures, and taking part in exhibits, large and small. Men of wit and humor, Fuchs once said
I like every part of my work such, that I cannot decide my favorite, so I compromise and give lectures. My cracks, wise and otherwise, are the joy of my life. MacNeil, when asked to comment on converting his community's unused, unattractive, and outmoded water tower as a WWI memorial, he replied with tongue planted firmly in cheek,
Without any intention of throwing cold water into the tank, it is my firm conviction the location is totally inadequate.
Two deaths were reported on January 14, 1929. One, the passing of Babe Ruth's wife who had perished in a house fire while visiting friends in Massachusetts. The other, that of Emil Fuchs who, having been diagnosed with cancer some years earlier, had taken his own life. In a note written to his sister Renee he said
You can see as well as I can that I am going down every day. There is no help for me. I'm taking the only way out. I beg you will forgive me for what I am doing. MacNeil lived on until October 2, 1947. I suspect they would have enjoyed each other's company.
Emil Fuchs sketch of Queen Victoria on her deathbed
To read the earlier E-Sylum articles, see:
NEW BOOK: HERMON ATKINS MACNEIL
NEW ANS HUNTINGTON MEDAL DESIGN
Wayne Homren, Editor
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