The Sun Vow

Hermon Atkins MacNeil American
Cast by Roman Bronze Works

On view at The Met Fifth Avenue in Gallery 700

Although MacNeil originally claimed he drew on a Sioux legend that captured his imagination while traveling in the American West, he later admitted to inventing this coming-of-age ritual: before a boy entered adulthood, he must shoot an arrow directly into the sun. If the elder judging his prowess was so blinded by the sun’s rays that he could not follow the flight of the arrow, the young archer had passed the test. MacNeil presented his self-invented fable at the pivotal moment of the arrow’s release, both heightening the narrative suspense and reinforcing the fabricated trope of Native Americans as inhabitants of an idyllic, vanishing past.

The Sun Vow, Hermon Atkins MacNeil (American, Everett, Massachusetts 1866–1947 Queens, New York), Bronze, American

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