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Sally James Farnham 1869 ~


Sally James Farnham

Sally James Farnham artist and sculptor. Her father was Colonel Edward C. James; her mother, Sarah Perkins. Mrs. Farnham is descended from a long line of soldiers and jurists on one side and sailors on the other. She was born and reared in Ogdensburg, New York. She gave no indication in her early youth of the wonderful talent she possessed. She never received what is ordinarily considered essential to ultimate success, art education. She was not a student in Paris or Rome nor did she show any special taste for drawing or for things artistic during her school days. She was simply a descendant of a cultured race and lived among people of strong artistic tendencies; enjoyed the advantage of extensive foreign travel, becoming familiar with the masterpieces of ancient and modem sculpture.

Unconscious of possessing any talent in this line, while convalescing after a severe illness, her husband brought her some modeling wax, in the hope that it could help her to while away a period of enforced inactivity. From this she fashioned a recumbent figure of great beauty and delicacy, representing Iris, "Goddess of the Rainbow."

 This she executed, in the absence of modeling tools, by the use of the surgical instruments loaned her by the attending physician and the finished result was most charming. The fact that this first effort possessed the technique and finish usually found in the works of the trained and experienced artists, gave rise to the feeling among those who saw Mrs. Famham's work that a great future was before her. Her first portrait work was in bronze, a full length figure. This was followed by a bust which is a fine example of the sculptor's skill. Then followed the spirited bronze called "Cowboy Fun." This group is vibrant with life.

Father Juaneño with Indian boy

The Great Neck Steeple Chase Cup was modeled by Mrs. Farnham, and is considered one of the most artistic pieces of this kind ever produced. Mrs. Famham's most ambitious effort is the soldiers' and sailors' monument in Ogdensburg her birthplace. Mrs. Famham's work for the government has met with great praise from artists and laymen. She did the frieze in the council room of the building of the Pan-American Republics, at Washington, and also designed the medal which was given Mr. Carnegie by the government, in appreciation of his gift of a large sum of money toward this building as a contribution toward the efforts for peace. There is an originality in her work which gives it strength and vitality. Mrs. Farnham is destined to become one of the noted artists and sculptors in this country.

Women of America

Source: The Part Taken by Women in American History, By Mrs. John A. Logan, Published by The Perry-Nalle Publishing Company, Wilmington, Delaware, 1912.


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