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    Description

    HENRY FRANÇOIS FARNY (American, 1847-1916)
    Portrait of a Cowboy (self portrait), 1886
    Watercolor, ink, and pencil on paper
    Image: 9-1/2 x 14 inches (24.1 x 35.6 cm)
    Signed and dated center right: Farny - 1886

    This lot is accompanied by a letter of authentication from Edan Milton Hughes dated October 14, 2005.

    Intrigued by news of the capture of famed Sioux chief Sitting Bull, Henry Farny embarked on his first western journey in 1881 to Fort Yates on the Missouri River, following in the footsteps of such early western painters as George Catlin and Karl Bodmer. By the time he arrived, Sitting Bull had already been removed, but Farny stayed at the fort for several months and frequently visited nearby Indian villages. The trip turned out to be a true turning point for his artistic career. The life that he observed here among the Native people of the plains would remain his most constant artistic pursuit for the rest of his life.

    He made several sketches and photographs during his time at Fort Yates, which he continued to use as resources for his paintings throughout his career. He 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.

    While the great majority of his paintings depict Native Americans, he sometimes focused on other western figures, such as this watercolor of a cowboy. The date on this painting, 1886, indicates that it is an early work in terms of his western paintings. It is likely that the cowboy pictured is wearing items that Farny collected on one of his early ventures into the West. California art historian Edan Hughes has speculated that this painting may be a self portrait. While there is a resemblance to Farny himself, the painting may simply be of a western figure that he encountered on his travels.

    Farny was born in Ribeauville, Alsace, France, in 1847 and migrated with his family to western Pennsylvania in 1848. His later fascination with American Indians most likely began at an early age with his family's association with a group of Seneca Indians who lived nearby. In 1859, Farny's family sought better opportunities farther west and moved to Cincinnati. Except for several trips to Europe where he received his artistic training, Farny remained in Cincinnati for the rest of his life. His artistic talent was nurtured at an early age, and by 1865, at the age of eighteen, he was already producing illustrations for Harper's and other publications. He remained a successful illustrator for much of his early artistic career and was afforded national recognition for his work in the McGuffey Reader, which helped educate thousands of American children.


    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*: Very good condition.
    *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, 2010
    20th Saturday
    Bids + Registered Phone Bidders: 0
    Lot Tracking Activity: N/A
    Page Views: 1,503

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