Biografie von Henry François FARNY (1847-1916)

Birth place: Ribeauville, Alsace, France

Death place: Cincinnati, OH

Addresses: most of his career was spent in Cincinnati, OH, with trips throughout western U.S. and to Europe

Profession: Painter, illustrator

Studied: briefly with Thomas Buchanan Read in his studio, Rome, 1867; Farny wanted to learn portrait and figural painting but became frustrated with Read's slow teaching pace. Read then sent him to study with the landscapist Herman Herzog in Düsseldorf, 1868-70; with Wilhelm Diez, Munich, 1873 (5 months); Europe, incl. Munich, 1875-76, with Cincinnati friends, Duveneck, Dengler, and Twachtman

Exhibited: Cincinnati AM, frequently in his lifetime and retrospective, 1965; Vienna Exp., 1883; Paris Expo, 1889 (medal); Calif. Midwinter Int'l Expo, 1894; AIC ,1895-96; Boston AC, 1896; Charleston Expo, 1902 (medal); St. Louis Expo, 1904 (medal); Corcoran Gal, 1908.

Member: Cincinnati AC.

Work: Cincinnati AM; Univ. Texas, Austin; Taft Mus., Cincinnati; Amon Carter Mus. A.

Comments: In 1853, Farny"s family emigrated from France to western Pennsylvania, where he became acquainted with the Seneca Indian tribe and developed his lifelong interest in Native American tribes. The family moved to Cincinnati in 1859, and after his father's death in 1863 Farny quit school and took a variety of jobs, one of them as a lithographer of Civil War scenes. He began illustrating for Harper's Weekly in 1865 and in 1866 moved to NYC where he continued to work for Harper Brothers, producing engravings and cartoons (he worked for Harper"s for over thirty years). In 1867, he traveled to Europe for study, returning in 1870 and settling once again in Cincinnati where he drew circus posters and continued to do illustrations, producing a number of illustrated books for Van Antwerp and Co. In 1873, he went back to Europe (for several months) and again from 1875-76. By 1880, Farny was recognized as a major illustrator (his illus. for the children's textbook, The McGuffey Reader, appeared in 1879, alongside those by Howard Pyle, Walter Shirlaw, and others), but from this year on he began devoting more time to painting, and in 1881 he made his first trip West and began work on the Indian paintings for which he is best known. Traveling to Ft. Yates on the Missouri River, Farny sketched and photographed the Sioux Indians (he made 124 photographs) and collected a number of artifacts which he brought back to his Cincinnati studio. This subject matter proved to be a bonanza for the artist and his Indian pictures were soon in great demand. Farny traveled west several other times: to Helena, Montana, in 1883; along the Missouri River from Helena to Fort Benton in 1884; he took an overland trip to California in 1888 during which he visited the Mormon country around Salt Lake City (it is also believed he traveled throughout the southwest and northwest on this trip); in 1894 he visited Indian Territory, sketching Geronimo and the Apache, Kiowa, and Comanches who had been settled on the reservation. On each western trip, he would take extensive photographs and gather artifacts for his studio, also clipping photos from magazines and other sources, allowing him to work steadily in his Cincinnati studio (from which a large number of his paintings were actually sold). In his work, Farny memorialized the Plains Indians in their daily life, depicting quiet scenes of camp life, hunting parties, and life on the trail, in contrast to the more dramatic and sometimes violent scenes chosen by his contemporaries Remington and Russell. He often signed his paintings with his name as well as an Indian symbol. Although he focused more on his paintings from 1881-on, his illustrations of tribal life continued to appear frequently (until 1893) in Century, Harper's Weekly, and others. Highlights include his illustrations for Frank Cushing's articles on the Zuni Indians in Century during the 1880s, and his illustrations of the ceremony held to celebrate the last spike being driven for the Northern Pacific's transcontinental railroad line, which appeared in Frank Leslie's Illustrated Newspaper in 1883.

Sources: WW15; Henry Farny (exh. brochure. New York: Spanierman Galleries, 1981); Hughes, Artists of California, 176; P & H Samuels, 164; Sotheby's, The American West: the John F. Eulich Collection," May 20, 1998; Cincinnati Painters of the Golden Age, 70 (w/illus.); Eldredge, et al., Art in New Mexico, 1900-1945, 196"

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