Oil on Canvas
17 x 12.38 in.
Signed “h.f. farny” lower right
Henry François Farny (1847–1916) was a French-born (Ribeauvillé) painter and illustrator working in the United States. His work was centered on the life of Native Americans in 19th century America.
Farny’s family left France in 1853 to emigrate to the United States. The family moved to Warren, Pennsylvania, near a Seneca reservation. Farny was profoundly affected by the Indian civilization he encountered at an early age. Around 1859, the Farny family then moved to Cincinnati, Ohio. Attracted by painting and drawing, the young man became an illustrator for magazines and books for children. When he was 18 years old, Harper’s Weekly published a double page view of Cincinnati he made. Between 1867 and 1870, he took private lessons from Albert Bierstadt in Düsseldorf. By the time Farny had arrived at Düsseldorf, and began attending Düsseldorf academy in the late 1860s, the Düsseldorf school of painting had already began to lose it’s once high acclaim amongst most of the American populace. One part of America where this was not the case was in Cincinnati, Ohio where the realist objectives taught there were still being held in high esteem. Farny who had been studying abroad, returned to Cincinnati in 1870 to a minimally responsive demand by Cincinnatians for his paintings, and instead used his new found skills in the service of poster painting and other odd jobs. In 1873 this all changed when he was commissioned by the Chamber of Commerce to draw the different stages of pork packing in Cincinnati.
Farny who was an erudite scholar, and student of both the Munich and Düsseldorf’s school’s of fine arts, has assimilated the Düsseldorf techniques of a drab-styled realism into his paintings. In his depictions of the post civil war era and oppression of Native Americans at the time, Farny masterfully painted confounding situations, such as a perplexed Indian examining a telephone line. This painting entitled “In song of the Talking wire”, a major work of 1904, can be interpreted as ‘in the struggle against the white man’s technology he must succumb’ – John Clubbe. This painting, along with one entitled “Morning of a New Day” which shows Native Americans on a snowy hill watching a far away train, have gained Farny a reputation of practicing the ‘vanishing race’ style of painting.
Farny artwork continues to gain popularity and most serious collectors, as well as private Western art collections, usually include a piece by Farny. Recently, one of his paintings know as “Southern Plains Indian Warrior” was sold at Bonhams, London, for ₤224,097.