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The Sun Vow

A work made of bronze.
CC0 Public Domain Designation

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  • A work made of bronze.


Modeled 1898, cast 1901


Hermon Atkins MacNeil (American, 1866–1947)
Cast by Roman Bronze Works (American, founded 1897)

About this artwork

Sculptor Hermon Atkins MacNeil imagined a rite of manhood in this portrayal of a Native American elder guiding a boy as he shoots an arrow skyward. The pair follows its ascent until it is lost in the sun’s rays. It was through the distorted lens of ethnographic displays at the 1893 World’s Columbian Exposition in Chicago as well as Buffalo Bill’s Wild West shows that MacNeil’s interest in Indigenous cultures developed. He modeled The Sun Vow apart from any meaningful contact with Native peoples, executing it in Rome in 1898. MacNeil’s study of classical sculptures in Italy is visible here in the attentive rendering of the human form and harmonious lines of the figures’ silhouettes.


Currently Off View


Arts of the Americas


Hermon Atkins MacNeil (Sculptor) , Roman Bronze Works Inc. (Cast by)


The Sun Vow


United States (Artist's nationality:)


Cast 1901 , Modeled 1898




Inscribed on right of base: "THE SVN-VOW" Inscribed on back of base: "CIRE.PERDUE. CAST.ROMAN.BRONZE.WORKS. N.Y. 1901" Inscribed on left of base: "H.A. MacNeil / R.R.S. Rome 1901"


H.: 176.5 cm (69 1/2 in.)

Credit Line

Bequest of Howard Van Doren Shaw

Reference Number


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