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    Description

    HENRY FRANÇOIS FARNY (American, 1847-1916)
    The Ambush
    Oil on canvas
    20 x 12 inches (50.8 x 30.5 cm)
    Signed lower right: Farny

    PROVENANCE:
    Biltmore Galleries, Scottsdale, Arizona;
    J.N. Bartfield Galleries, New York (labels verso).

    Known primarily for his paintings of American Indians, Cincinnati artist, Henry Farny, first traveled to the West in 1881. He was drawn to visit Fort Yates on the Missouri River when he heard that famed Sioux chief, Sitting Bull, had been detained there. However, by the time Farny arrived at the fort, Sitting Bull had already been removed to another location. Undaunted, Farny spent several months at the fort and frequently made visits to Indian villages and reservations in the area. He spent his time sketching and photographing the daily lives of the Native Americans in the area and also began collecting items such as clothing, weapons, saddles, and ceremonial objects. All of these items frequently found their way into his paintings and many were used on numerous occasions to add just the right touch of authenticity.

    Farny made other trips west from 1881 to 1894, and he continued to collect Native American material and to amass a sizeable collection of photographs of Indian culture. He was not a literal historian of Indian life, choosing instead to base his paintings on various elements from his sketches, photographs, and the photographs of others. His works is often described as a romantic presentation of Indian life, yet he worked in a highly realistic manner. The landscapes in his paintings are exact depictions down to individual blades of grass. The clothing and other items in his paintings are rendered with such precision that one can distinguish between different styles in bead and quill work.

    The Ambush displays Farny's attention to detail and his ability to capture the ruggedness of the western landscape. The inclusion of authentic American Indian clothing, beadwork, and even a bone breastplate are historically-specific items that help bring the painting to life. This work is typical of much of Farny's compositions in that it focuses on a single figure. The action is anticipated but not shown, as the Indian warrior waits for the arrival of a presumed foe. Unlike his contemporaries, Frederic Remington and Charles Schreyvogel, Farny rarely showed his subjects in moments of intense action. His preference was to present a situation inherent with a sense of drama that could unfold in the mind of the viewer.

    Here, what is about to happen is contrasted sharply with the quietness of the scene and the beauty of the landscape. The mood is further enhanced by placing the warrior in the cool gray shades of the sheltering rocks with the vivid blue sky and hint of afternoon sun in the background. The overall effect is to set up all of the elements of a narrative that is yet to unfold. Farny leaves the ultimate telling of that story to the imagination of the viewer and The Ambush reflects his skill as painter and storyteller.


    More information about HENRY FRANÇOIS FARNY, also known as Farny, Henry François, Farny, François Henry, Farny, Henry F., Farny, Henry Francois, Henry François Farny.

    Condition Report*: Original canvas has been lined and is in stable condition; UV examination revealed moderate scattered inpainting to background passages and inpainting to the upper region of the figure's face. Framed Dimensions 28 X 20 Inches
    *Heritage Auctions strives to provide as much information as possible but encourages in-person inspection by bidders. Statements regarding the condition of objects are only for general guidance and should not be relied upon as complete statements of fact, and do not constitute a representation, warranty or assumption of liability by Heritage. Some condition issues may not be noted in the condition report but are apparent in the provided photos which are considered part of the condition report. Please note that we do not de-frame lots estimated at $1,000 or less and may not be able to provide additional details for lots valued under $500. Heritage does not guarantee the condition of frames and shall not be liable for any damage/scratches to frames, glass/acrylic coverings, original boxes, display accessories, or art that has slipped in frames. All lots are sold "AS IS" under the Terms & Conditions of Auction.

    Auction Info

    Auction Dates
    November, 2012
    10th Saturday
    Bids + Registered Phone Bidders: 2
    Lot Tracking Activity: N/A
    Page Views: 3,223

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