Museum Minute: Sally James Farnham

May 29, 2020

Sally James Farnham (1869-1943). The Sun Fisher, ca. 1920. Bronze, 14.75 x 9 x 6 inches. Roman Bronze Works, N.Y. Buffalo Bill Center of the West. Acquired from the Norman T. de Mauriac Estate. 55.69
Credit Whitney Western Art Museum

Sally James Farnham was a sculptor from a prominent family in upstate New York. Farnham didn’t start sculpting until she was 32.

“She began modeling in clay while she was recuperating from an illness. Her husband thought it might just keep her busy and keep her hands active,” said Karen McWhorter, the curator of the Whitney Western Art Museum.

Once she started, she caught the sculpting bug. She was primarily self-taught, but she did seek advice from a prominent local sculptor, Frederick Remington. 

“He was also from Ogden Springs, New York, and they were close family friends. Remington very much encouraged her work,” said McWhorter. 

Farnham sculpted for the rest of her life. She started with portrait busts of wealthy friends but then she started creating other things like war and other public monuments.

“Perhaps the most famous is her monument to Simón Bolívar in Central Park, which is still the largest bronze created ever by a woman,” said McWhorter.