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    Description

    HENRY FRANÇOIS FARNY (American, 1847-1916)
    Portrait of an Indian, 1902
    Gouache on paper
    10-1/2 x 8 inches (26.7 x 20.3 cm)
    Signed lower right: Farny '02
    Inscribed on verso: From Farny Christmas 1902

    PROVENANCE:
    Joe Scheuerle (label verso);
    Mannados Bookshop (label verso).

    Few late nineteenth-century artists of the American West better evoked the humanistic spirit of the Indian than Henry Farny. His family moved in 1847 from Alsace, France, to western Pennsylvania, where as a six-year-old he observed his mother caring for members of a local Seneca tribe. This fascination with Native American culture remained with Farny as he initiated his career in Cincinnati as an illustrator, receiving early commissions from Harper's Weekly and Century Magazine. During the 1880s, Farny made four major trips to the West, most on magazine assignments, each time sketching and photographing reservation life and gathering materials for compositions he assembled back in his Cincinnati studio. After 1890, painting replaced illustration as Farny's preferred medium. Working primarily in gouache, he rendered moving portraits of Comanche, Sioux, and Zuni leaders in native dress, as well as Indian genre scenes. Farny distinguished himself from fellow illustrators Frederic Remington and Charles Russell by depicting his subjects engaged in tranquil everyday pastimes rather than in violent combat with enemies - a strategy for heroizing what he considered a deeply intelligent people.

    After his trip to Fort Yates, North Dakota, in 1881, Farny began painting bust portraits of both identifiable and unknown Indians, a practice he continued for the rest of his career. Of these, his most famous was that of Sitting Bull from 1899, which posed the Little Bighorn warrior in full regalia. The later Portrait of an Indian, by contrast, shows an anonymous sitter whose clothing - denim shirt, canvas vest, and brimmed hat - signals the encroachment of white civilization. Here, Farny demonstrates the lessons of his early 1870s academic training in Düsseldorf and Munich, both in his realistic treatment of the Indian's facial features and in his masterful handling of gouache. Included with his signature is the special emblem given to him by the Sioux from Fort Yates, a circle with a dot in the center.

    Portrait of an Indian
    represents one of the few paintings that Farny dedicated to a friend. On the verso, an inscription, "From Farny Christmas 1902," specifies the context of his gift to fellow Indian artist Joseph Scheuerle, also from Cincinnati.



    Condition Report*: Overall very good condition, faint waterstain beneath signature, faint overall craquelure, tiny areas of paint loss in feather and under hat brim, hinged to mat and framed. 
    *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. All lots are sold "AS IS" under the Terms & Conditions of Auction.

    Auction Info

    Auction Dates
    July, 2009
    16th Thursday
    Bids + Registered Phone Bidders: 1
    Lot Tracking Activity: N/A
    Page Views: 922

    Buyer's Premium per Lot:
    19.5% of the successful bid (minimum $14) per lot.

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