Henry F. Farny

Artist Biography

Born in Alsace, France, Henry F. Farny moved to Warren, Pennsylvania with his family in 1853 following the rise of the Napoleonic party. While living in Pennsylvania for six years, Farny met the Seneca Indians. American Indians would become the most prominent subject for Farny’s art. When the family moved to Cincinnati in 1859, Farny worked as an apprentice lithographer and then briefly as an illustrator for Harper’s Weekly in New York. To further his training, Farny traveled to Europe, studying at the Royal Academy of Fine Arts in Dusseldorf, Germany under Hermann Herzog and Thomas Read. While in Dusseldorf, Farny met artist Albert Bierstadt, who encouraged him to visit the American West.

In 1881, Farny made his first journey to the West. He would continue to endeavor on numerous trips throughout the 1880s, creating countless sketches that he would later return to in his Cincinnati studio. He visited Standing Rock and traveled over a thousand miles by canoe on the Missouri River. The artist became close with the Blackfoot, Zuni, and Sioux people. The Sioux called him Whizhays, meaning “Long Boots,” and Wasitcha, meaning “White Face Maker.” They represented his name with a symbol of a dot within a circle. Farny completed many illustration commissions, but after 1890 he turned his attention to painting. Often nostalgic in nature, Farny’s depictions of Native Americans became quite popular. His peaceful scenes captured figures engaged in everyday activities. He showed great care for both composition and color. His work is now found in the collections of the Cincinnati Art Museum, Smithsonian American Art Museum, and Denver Art Museum.

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