Category Archives for Artists

Henry F. Farny Biography

Henry F Farny was a son of a political refugee born in Alsace, France. His family moved to Pennsylvania when he was six years old.

When he was young, he had a friendly relationship with the people of the Seneca tribe in the nearby vicinity to where he lived. Thereafter, he developed a life-long fascination with Native Americans.

Henry Farny Biography

Henry F Farny and his family relocated to Cincinnati in 1859. He worked as an apprentice lithographer there. Harper’s Weekly published a two-page view of Cincinnati drawn by Farny at the age of 18.

After working for Harper’s New York, he wanted to go for more advanced training. He traveled to Royal Academy in Dusseldorf, Germany, in 1867 and spent three years studying painting under Thomas Read, John Twachtman, Frank Duveneck, and Herman Hartzog.

He returned to Cincinnati in 1970 and resumed his career working as an illustrator for Harper’s Weekly and other local publishers and Century magazines. He made illustrations for circus posters and McGuffy’s Eclectic Readers, which are the most popular 19th-century grade school texts.

In 1881 the great Lakota leader, Sitting Bull, turned himself over to the U.S military and was held at the Standing Rock Agency. Henry F Farny hoping to meet Sitting Bull, traveled To North Dakota only to find out that Sitting Bull had been moved to another location.

However, his journey was not fruitless after all, as he was enchanted by the life of the Plains Native American life, he used this opportunity to collect artifacts and make sketches to use in his paintings in Cincinnati. After this, he spent most of his life documenting scenes from the Plains Native Americans Lifestyle.

He embarked on his Western trip again in 1883 and illustrated the completion of the Northern Pacific Railroad transcontinental line for Century magazine. He met Sitting Bull at the celebrations that took place at the new territory at Bismarck, who then addressed the people via an interpreter.

He continued on the railroad with the likes of Ulysses S.Grant sketching scenes of the Montana Territory and the Crow Reservation at Grey Cliff, which were also used for Century Magazine.

Type of Work

Henry F. Farny’s works were mostly Western in nature. There were illustrations of Montana to Fort Benton, Helena to Missouri River, and several portraits of different Zuni leaders, which he created for Frank Cushing, a famous anthropologist.

Farny sketched Zuni Portraits when his subjects were at the Smithsonian Institute in Washington. D.C.

He was then invited to Fort Sill in Oklahoma Territory by General Nelson Miles in 1894. He was asked to paint the Apaches. One of his most notable works was a watercolor sketch of Geronimo. He met him on his trip, and the chief himself signed the painting.

Subject Matter

After 1890 Henry F Farny stopped illustrations and began easel painting. He particularly depicted Plains Native Americans he met, studied, and lived with, in his paintings.

His paintings are considered to follow the romantic realist tradition, which was prevalent in the late 19th century. He has used transparent watercolor and gouache to depict highly detailed expressions of the Native life, excluding the negative impact of reservation living.

Although, Henry’s paintings are idealized, yet, they are not overly dramatized like the ones done by other painters before his times. The light he uses in his paintings is intense but doesn’t have a pronounced effect of a chiaroscuro technique of shadow and firelight.

The subject in his paintings always poses candidly. It doesn’t look like a staged scene. Farny was a student and a scholar of Dusseldorf and Munich schools of Fine arts, and it can be seen from his artwork as he had used the Dusseldorf techniques like the drab style realism.

The oppression of the Native Americans and the post-civil war era is masterfully depicted in his paintings. One of those painting is In song of the talking wire, which is interpreted as a native American struggling with the white man’s technology that he has to succumb to ultimately.

Another artwork was Morning of a New Day, which shows a scene where Native Americans are standing on a snowy hill watching something far away.

Due to his paintings, Farny gained a reputation for using the ‘vanishing race’ painting style. He aimed to preserve the detailed scenes of the Native American’s way of life, which was disappearing right before his very eyes.

The Legacy of Henry F. Farny

Henry F. Farny’s paintings continue to get acclaimed and are part of the most public and private Western art collections. In recent times one of his paintings called Southern Plains Indian Warrior was sold three times its original value at Bonhams for US$362,500.

Theodore Roosevelt said to him, “Farny, the nation owes you a great debt. It does not realize it now, but it will someday. You are preserving for future generations phases of American history that are rapidly passing away.”

He passed away in Cincinnati in 1916

Frederic Remington Biography

You have probably heard that a picture is worth a thousand words. But you can’t really grasp the essence of it unless you come across an illustration that communicates a story, a message, or a feeling.

What is most meaningful in art has nothing to do with the canvas, structure or the hue of colors. In fact, it is what contribution a picture makes to our lives and what sensations and imaginations it sparks.

There are many legitimate methods to measure the importance of an art piece. But none that weigh the substance of a painting or illustration.

Frederic Remington Biography

Frederic Remington’s legacy is an example of such an art form that communicates feelings to its viewers. It arouses their interest in unknown subjects and holds their attention with the timeless illustration of Native Americans of the Old West.

I knew the wild riders and the vacant land were about to vanish forever… and the more I considered the subject, the bigger the forever loomed. Without knowing how to do it, I began to record some facts around me, and the more I looked the more the panorama unfolded.” – Frederic Remington

Early Life

Frederic Remington was an American painter, illustrator, sculptor and writer. His work became famous for his realistic depictions of life in the Old West. Frederick was born on October 4, 1861 in Canton, New York to a prominent family.

His parents, Seth Pierrepont Remington and Clarissa Bascom Sackrider, had moved from Alsace-Lorraine in the early 1700’s. His father had been a colonel in the civil war and became a newspaper editor and postmaster in America. Frederic grew up in a family that was active in local politics and heard tales from his father of his time in the cavalry.

It seems that Remington’s inspiration to draw cowboys and horses can be traced back to his family bloodlines. One of his great grandfathers, Samuel Bascom, was a saddle maker and the Remingtons were fine horsemen.

Moreover, Remington was also related to an Indian portrait artist, George Catlin and cowboy sculptor Earl W. Bascom. So, from early years of his life, we can observe that he developed an interest in drawing and sketching soldiers in uniform on horseback.

To top it all off, Remington’s father’s newspaper business taught him how to capture a story and illustrate the romantic aspect of the West as well as its struggles.

When he was young, Remington tried various avenues before making up his mind to find his peace in art. He was in and out of college in two years and then tried his luck at business. But most of his business ventures lasted only a few months. He studied art at Yale University from 1878-1880 and then briefly at the Art Students League of New York in 1886.

During the years of his education, he would travel far and wide and devoted himself to depicting Native Americans.

Most of his illustrations were of cowboys, soldiers, horses and other simple aspects of life on the plains. On his adventures, he would sketch and photograph earnestly, collecting material to take back to his studio in New York City and lay it out on a canvas.

In the fall of 1884, Remington married his sweetheart, Eva Adele Caten. The couple soon went on to live in Brooklyn, New York. But due to business failures and other difficulties in life, Eva left him and returned to her father’s house. For several weeks, Remington wandered in the desert, trying to deal with the absence of his wife. But soon, he returned back to New York to assume his due responsibilities, claim his love for art and his wife.

It wasn’t long after his return that he solicited work with Harper’s Weekly with the help of his portfolio of illustrations of the West. The initial success boosted his determination to prove himself as an artist. This time of Remington’s life can be marked as the bloom of his art career that transformed him into the most prolific artist of his time.

In 1887, he received a commission to do eighty-three illustrations for a book by Theodore Roosevelt, Ranch Life and the Hunting Trail. He produced 3000 signed paintings and sketches altogether. Most of his work was illustrations but he turned many into art as he turned away from the publishing world and resumed his passion in masterful art.

Types of Work

Frederic Remington’s artwork is about the depiction of life in the West, people’s struggles and their stories. He does not touch his personal experience on the journeys in his work and strictly adopts Western Americans as his subjects. In his career of twenty-five years, he produced over 3000 drawings and paintings, twenty-two bronze sculptures, a novel, a Broadway play and over one hundred articles and stories.

The “Marlboro Man” in the cigarette advertisement was one of Remington’s illustrations. Remington’s work gave substance to the American stories that the nation held dear, including independence, bravery, and heroism. Although he himself resided in the West for only a year, through his work he inspired a love for the West in people.

Some of his most famous works include:

  • A Dash for the Timber
  • The Fall of the Cowboy
  • Fight for the Waterhole
  • Aiding a Comrade
  • The Scout: Friends or Foes?
  • Cold Morning on the Range
  • An Indian Trapper

Subject Matter of Remington’s Work

The subject matter of Remington’s work is what captured his interests most. This mostly included soldiers, horses, cowboys and the western frontier. With his skillful techniques and remarkable work, he was successful in transforming his interests into the interests of the public.

Throughout his career, the focus of his subject matter remained on the people and animals of the West with landscapes being of secondary importance. He used his artistic skills to depict raw human action and the underlying stories.

Death and Legacy

In the December of 1909, Frederic Remington met an untimely death due to a ruptured appendix. He died at the age of forty-eight at the peak of his career. Remington was fond of adventures and ourneys to the West. He would often take others with him on rides, hikes, fishing and hunting trips.

Among other things, Remington deeply admired the undaunted approach toward the elements of frontier life. His legacy continues to inspire and instill love in others for the rustic life of the West.

Eugene de Blaas Biography

Eugene de Blaas was a an Italian painter born in 1843 he is best known for his works painted in the Academic Classic style.

When most of us think of Italian art, we tend to think of the Old Masters. Botticelli, Michelangelo, Raphael, Vasari – the names of the Italian Renaissance loom large.

But part of what gives Italian art such power is its unique mixture of body and soul, one derived from centuries, sometimes millennia-old movements and counter movements – it doesn’t all begin and end with Leonardo.

Eugene de Blaas Biography

Yet the Classicism of the Old Masters proved potent enough to be reinvented and revived with the rise of Neoclassicism.

This was the “accepted” style of at the Académie des Beaux-Arts throughout much of the 18th and 19th century, which was the “Academic” Classicism in Paris when Eugene de Blaas attended.

Yet, de Blaas’s art stands out from that academic tradition. Emerging in the late 19th and early 20th century, as Impressionism gave way to first Post-Impressionism and then varying shades of Modernism, he doesn’t fit into those traditions, either.

At first Monet and then Van Gogh broke new ground in color theory, and then Picasso, Weimar Modernists, and Italian Futurists revolutionized what art was or could be, de Blaas stuck to a more Academic realist style while shedding its stuffy connotations.

So who was this underappreciated Venetian artist, and where does Eugene de Blaas stand in the story of Belle Epoque and Italian Art?

1. Family and Early Life

De Blaas is known as a Venetian painter, but he was born in Rome.

His father was Karl de Blaas, a successful and likewise-academic painter who trained at the Academy of Vienna. There, he became enmeshed in the Vienna social circles and painted Franz Joseph as a boy in 1853.

He became a fresco and portrait painter before becoming a professor 1855 at the Venice Academy, where he would stay for a decade. Venice had been a huge attraction for artists in the 18th century given its incredible beauty and reputation for culture and beauty.

By this point the Venice’s Medieval and Renaissance glory days were long past, but were past enough to become classical – perfect fodder for an art scene that prized the Neoclassical.

Eugene himself was born in 1843, and was raised in the Venetian Neoclassical scene. Following in his father’s footsteps, he likewise trained in Neoclassical painting styles and focused on scenes of his native Venice, beginning with portraiture and religious subjects.

2. Artistic Style

Throughout the decades, however, de Blaas’ work would incorporate an element of the everyday which is in direct contrast to the tradition of mythic and historical paintings embraced in the Neoclassical style.

He obviously doesn’t approach the experimentation that was going on with the renegade Impressionists, Post-Impressionists, Pointillists, and other Avant Garde artists of the period. de Blaas’s training and, thus, his paintings were far more conservative.

Even so, there is a vivacity to his Venetian paintings which escape the static state of many Neoclassical and subsequent works.

Much of this comes from de Blaas’ treatment of his Venetian surroundings, which imbue his work with a sense of reality, if not “grit.”

His settings are given just enough style and gloss to appear “pretty” while still appearing to take place in real, “lived in” spaces.

Backgrounds such as those found in “Die Wasserträgerin,” “A Pensive Moment,” and “The Water Carrier” feature brick and stone backgrounds which evoke a sense of the Venetian landscape and, more broadly, Northern Italian towns and cities in the late 19th and early 20th century.

In this sense, de Blaas can be seen as an artistic forerunner to a subsequent great Italian artistic innovation – Neorealism in cinema.

The films of Rossellini and Visconti feature everyday people in everyday settings with an emphasis on reality. However, their settings and often characters (in films such as Rossellini’s Roma Città Aperta) are often far grittier.

By contrast, de Blaas’ warm color palette and focus on women may evoke Millais and Waterhouse in the minds of late-19th century art lovers.

Indeed, de Blaas’ work – successful in his time and beyond – was exhibited at the Royal Academy various times between 1875 and 1891. However, far from Millais’ Pre-Raphaelite Medieval Ladies, Waterhouse’s “Lady of Shallot,” or either artist’s take on Ophelia, de Blaas’ women lived squarely in contemporary Northern Italy.

This rich balance between realism and theatricality helped de Blaas carve out his own niche.

He had showings not just at the Royal Academy but all over Europe, with UK exhibitions at the Sons Gallery in London, Walker Art Gallery in Liverpool, and Fine Art Society.

3. De Baas and the Everyday Italian Woman

Women are a recurring theme throughout his work. In particular, de Blaas’ work eschews the aristocratic elite for figures of the working and middle class. These figures come from a wide range of backgrounds and are typically engaged in scenes common to work and social life in the area.

This movement away from the mythic and extraordinary toward mundane and every day. By this point, Manet had already shocked the art world with his “Le Déjeuner sur l’herbe” and “Olympia” – two portraits prominently featuring female nudes in a non-mythic but contemporary setting.

But where Manet was pioneering Impressionism, de Blaas was still firmly entrenched in the Academic style, as he would be throughout his career.

Another significant point of departure between de Blaas and an artist like Manet is his depiction as women – namely, as clothed, and sumptuously so. While Manet broke artistic ground and social taboos with the two aforementioned nudes, de Blaas only painted one nude in his career, “Dans l’Eau,” which remains in a private collection.

Women engaged in dignified manual work feature prominently in de Blaas’ paintings, from several portraits of fruit sellers to “A Young Fishwife.”

Otherwise, while other works such as “De Musette” feature a coy figure posing alone, de Blaas’ women are typically part of a scene.

Works like “The Balcony,” for example (1877, also in a private collection) depicts a tableau of four women in various poses leaning over a balcony, the expression and body language of each highlighting the contrast between them. “On the Terrace” and “Ladies on a Balcony” from 1875 function much the same way, both with typical Venetian domestic balcony settings. By contrast, “Daydreaming” from 1890 features a lady recumbent with a fan on a window ledge with an ambiguous, dreamy expression.

A unique artistic voice whose vision combined Academic Classicism with the rugged Northern Italian landscape and ethos while featuring women as figures of complexity, ambiguity, and dignity, de Blaas died in 1932.