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Beauty & Strength: The Life and Work of American Sculptor Sally James Farnham
 

Sally James Farnham

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

“It is difficult to decide which is the more fascinating, Mrs. Farnham the woman or Mrs. Farnham the artist” remarked a 1931 reviewer of the career of American sculptor Sally James Farnham. In the first half of the 20th century, Farnham (1869-1943) achieved fame and critical acclaim for her monumental public sculptures and intimate, expressive portraits. But in the second half, she fell into obscurity. The permanent exhibit reintroduces to contemporary audiences a brilliant, charming, and determined artist, helping her regain the recognition she so richly deserves.

 

Ogdensburg's other great sculptor
Like Frederic Remington, Farnham had childhood roots in Ogdensburg, and maintained ties to the area throughout her life. She was married at Ogdensburg’s St. John’s Episcopal Church. Her first major public sculpture commission was The Spirit of Liberty, a Civil War memorial located in Ogdensburg’s Library Park across the street from the Museum. Her sister Lucia married prominent Ogdensburg doctor Grant C. Madill.

Although self-trained as an artist, Farnham sought the advice of established male sculptors, beginning with Frederic Remington. Farnham and Remington became cordial friends, corresponded about their sculptures,  and admired one another’s work. The two had many things in common, including North Country roots, fathers who were Civil War officers, and a love of horses and riding. When Remington died in 1909, his widow, Eva Remington, asked Farnham to oversee the production of Remington’s final two sculptures, The Stampede and the remodeled, large-size Broncho Buster. Farnham’s Cave Woman is a companion to and in conversation with Remington’s Paleolithic Man, and several of her Western sculptures can be seen as homages to Remington’s work.

This exhibit was generously funded by The Robert F. and Eleonora W. McCabe Foundation

Grant C. and Lucia Madill's Grandchildren, 1931

Grant C. and Lucia Madill's Grandchildren, 1931

startofanchorpendofanchor startofanchor/pendofanchor startofanchorpendofanchorstartofanchormeta charset="utf-8" /endofanchorstartofanchor/pendofanchor startofanchorp dir="ltr"endofanchorSally James Farnhamstartofanchorbr /endofanchor Lost wax bronze castingstartofanchorbr /endofanchor Gift of Katharine Brown Madillstartofanchorbr /endofanchor 1984.002startofanchor/pendofanchor startofanchorp dir="ltr"endofanchorFarnham sculpted numerous portraits of her friends and family, including this portrait of her sister's grandchildren, Mary Kate, Chris, and Emily, with their dog, Shep.startofanchor/pendofanchor
Grant C. and Lucia Madill's Grandchildren, 1931
Cowboy Fun, 1905

Cowboy Fun, 1905

startofanchorpendofanchor startofanchor/pendofanchor startofanchorpendofanchorstartofanchormeta charset="utf-8" /endofanchorstartofanchor/pendofanchor startofanchorp dir="ltr"endofanchor Sally James Farnhamstartofanchorbr /endofanchor Lost wax bronze castingstartofanchorbr /endofanchor Gift of the Remington Estatestartofanchorbr /endofanchor 1966.017startofanchor/pendofanchor startofanchorp dir="ltr"endofanchorFarnham told Theodore Roosevelt that Remington filled her “with the romance and picturesque beauty of those days that have passed.” It is unknown whether Remington purchased this sculpture from Farnham or if she gave it to him in gratitude for his encouragement and guidance.startofanchor/pendofanchor
Cowboy Fun, 1905
Joan of Arc, ca. 1918

Joan of Arc, ca. 1918

startofanchorpendofanchor startofanchor/pendofanchor startofanchorpendofanchorstartofanchormeta charset="utf-8" /endofanchorstartofanchor/pendofanchor startofanchorp dir="ltr"endofanchorSally James Farnhamstartofanchorbr /endofanchor Lost wax bronze castingstartofanchor/pendofanchor startofanchorp dir="ltr"endofanchorMuseum purchase with gifts from Jack and Jo Anne Backus, Mary and Carl Colton, Dr. Patricia Mahoney, JoAnn and Lowell McAllister, Robert and Eleonora McCabe, Julie and Peter Huff, Frances “Dolly” MacIntyre, Janet McFarland in memory of George McFarland, Tyler and Sara Mongerson, Allan P. Newell, Catherine Newell, and William Torreystartofanchor/pendofanchor startofanchorp dir="ltr"endofanchor2016.004startofanchor/pendofanchor
Joan of Arc, ca. 1918
Rain, 1923

Rain, 1923

startofanchorpendofanchor startofanchor/pendofanchor startofanchorpendofanchorstartofanchormeta charset="utf-8" /endofanchorstartofanchor/pendofanchor startofanchorp dir="ltr"endofanchorSally James Farnhamstartofanchorbr /endofanchor Lost wax bronze castingstartofanchor/pendofanchor startofanchorp dir="ltr"endofanchorMuseum purchase 2001 with funds donated by William Clark, Peter Huff, and by Katharine Brown MacKay and Robert Torrey MacKay, Jr., in memory of their mother, Mary Kate Madill MacKaystartofanchor/pendofanchor
Rain, 1923
Spring in the Jungle, a.k.a. The Courtship of Two Elephants, 1921

Spring in the Jungle, a.k.a. The Courtship of Two Elephants, 1921

startofanchorpendofanchor startofanchor/pendofanchor startofanchorpendofanchorstartofanchormeta charset="utf-8" /endofanchorstartofanchor/pendofanchor startofanchorp dir="ltr"endofanchorSally James Farnhamstartofanchorbr /endofanchor Lost wax bronze castingstartofanchorbr /endofanchor Gift of Emily Wiser Madill Baxterstartofanchorbr /endofanchor 1999.005startofanchor/pendofanchor startofanchorp dir="ltr"endofanchorThroughout her career, Farnham modeled numerous animal subjects, notable for their expressiveness and personality. Her studio companions included a parrot, a monkey, dogs, and a cat.startofanchor/pendofanchor
Spring in the Jungle, a.k.a. The Courtship of Two Elephants, 1921
National Navy Club Medals, 1923

National Navy Club Medals, 1923

startofanchorpendofanchor startofanchor/pendofanchor startofanchorpendofanchorstartofanchormeta charset="utf-8" /endofanchorstartofanchor/pendofanchor startofanchorp dir="ltr"endofanchorSally James Farnhamstartofanchorbr /endofanchor Struck bronzestartofanchorbr /endofanchor Gift of Michael Reedstartofanchorbr /endofanchor 2005.002..0001, 2005.002.0002, 2005.002.0003startofanchor/pendofanchor startofanchorp dir="ltr"endofanchorThen President of the National Navy Club, Franklin D. Roosevelt, wrote, “The medal is done in bronze by Sally James Farnham, the sculptress who patriotically gave her services for the production of the original of this model, and as a work of art, it is a valuable souvenir of the cause.”startofanchor/pendofanchor
National Navy Club Medals, 1923
John Drew Medal, 1923

John Drew Medal, 1923

startofanchorpendofanchor startofanchor/pendofanchor startofanchorpendofanchorstartofanchormeta charset="utf-8" /endofanchorstartofanchor/pendofanchor startofanchorp dir="ltr"endofanchorSally James Farnhamstartofanchorbr /endofanchor Struck bronzestartofanchorbr /endofanchor Gift of Michael Reedstartofanchorbr /endofanchor 2004.002startofanchor/pendofanchor startofanchorp dir="ltr"endofanchorFarnham was commissioned to create a gold plaque celebrating 50 years of stage work by famed American actor John Drew. The plaque was presented to Drew at a gala event, and each of the 350 invited guests received a companion medal depicting Drew in the role of Petruchio.startofanchor/pendofanchor
John Drew Medal, 1923
Theodore Roosevelt, 1905-1906

Theodore Roosevelt, 1905-1906

startofanchorpendofanchor startofanchor/pendofanchor startofanchorpendofanchorstartofanchormeta charset="utf-8" /endofanchorstartofanchor/pendofanchor startofanchorp dir="ltr"endofanchorSally James Farnhamstartofanchorbr /endofanchor Bronze bas-reliefstartofanchorbr /endofanchor Gift of Edward C. Madill from the collection of Grant C. Madill 1966.020.startofanchor/pendofanchor startofanchorp dir="ltr"endofanchorFarnham was allowed to sit in on an informal cabinet meeting to sketch President Roosevelt in profile, an experience she later described as “one of the red-letter days of my life.” The sculpture was commissioned by social activist Jacob Riis for installation in the Henry Street Settlement House in New York City.startofanchor/pendofanchor
Theodore Roosevelt, 1905-1906
President Warren G. Harding, 1921

President Warren G. Harding, 1921

startofanchorpendofanchor startofanchor/pendofanchor startofanchorpendofanchorstartofanchormeta charset="utf-8" /endofanchorstartofanchor/pendofanchor startofanchorp dir="ltr"endofanchorSally James Farnhamstartofanchorbr /endofanchor Plaster cast with bronze patinastartofanchorbr /endofanchor Gift of Sally James Farnhamstartofanchorbr /endofanchor 1966.019startofanchor/pendofanchor startofanchorp dir="ltr"endofanchorIn a letter to Farnham, Harding called this portrait “...really the most nearly perfect of anything that has ever been done of me.”startofanchor/pendofanchor
President Warren G. Harding, 1921
Marshal Ferdinand Foch, ca 1921

Marshal Ferdinand Foch, ca 1921

startofanchorpendofanchor startofanchor/pendofanchor startofanchorpendofanchorstartofanchormeta charset="utf-8" /endofanchorstartofanchor/pendofanchor startofanchorp dir="ltr"endofanchorSally James Farnhamstartofanchorbr /endofanchor Plaster cast with bronze patinastartofanchorbr /endofanchor Gift of Sally James Farnhamstartofanchorbr /endofanchor 1966.021startofanchor/pendofanchor startofanchorp dir="ltr"endofanchorFarnham was commissioned by the American Legion to complete this bust during the Marshal’s visit to the US in 1921. Her friend Carl de Vidal-Hunt, editor-in-chief of the Anglo-American Press Syndicates in Paris, shared a photo of the bust with Foch and told Farnham: “I wish you could have seen him studying the photo—that half-smiled surprise, under the skin, just as you made him.”startofanchor/pendofanchor
Marshal Ferdinand Foch, ca 1921
Enos Booth, Esq., in Riding Habit, 1917

Enos Booth, Esq., in Riding Habit, 1917

startofanchorpendofanchor startofanchor/pendofanchor startofanchorpendofanchorstartofanchormeta charset="utf-8" /endofanchorstartofanchor/pendofanchor startofanchorp dir="ltr"endofanchorSally James Farnhamstartofanchorbr /endofanchor Lost wax bronze castingstartofanchorbr /endofanchor Museum purchasestartofanchorbr /endofanchor 2004.001startofanchor/pendofanchor startofanchorp dir="ltr"endofanchorEnos Booth was Farnham’s lawyer and dear friend. Her cat can be seen curled up in the crook of Booth’s right arm.startofanchor/pendofanchor
Enos Booth, Esq., in Riding Habit, 1917
Jascha Heifetz, ca. 1923

Jascha Heifetz, ca. 1923

startofanchorpendofanchor startofanchor/pendofanchor startofanchorpendofanchorstartofanchormeta charset="utf-8" /endofanchorstartofanchor/pendofanchor startofanchorp dir="ltr"endofanchorSally James Farnhamstartofanchorbr /endofanchor Lost wax bronze castingstartofanchorbr /endofanchor Museum purchasestartofanchorbr /endofanchor 2005.001startofanchor/pendofanchor startofanchorpendofanchorLike Farnham, virtuoso Russian-American violinist Jascha Heifetz was a fringe member of the Algonquin Round Table. The floating, cutaway style of this portrait suggests the refinement of his music and character.startofanchor/pendofanchor
Jascha Heifetz, ca. 1923