Morning of a New Day, 1907, oil on canvas, 22 x 32 in. (55.9 x 81.3 cm.), National Cowboy Hall of Fame and Western Heritage Center, Oklahoma City, Oklahoma
No American artist captured the frontier spirit and raw beauty of the American West with the skill and precision of Henry Farny. Born in 1847 in Ribeauville, France, Henry Farny moved to the United States with his family at the age of six. After several years in western Pennsylvania, the Farnys moved to Cincinnati, the city that the artist would consider home for the rest of his life. An artist at heart, Farny's earliest profession was that of an illustrator. Several years of art training in Europe developed Farny's abilities and honed his interest in landscape and figure painting. Even his earliest works exhibit remarkably keen attention to detail. Several extended trips to Europe to study art solidified his artistic style for the rest of his career - a combination of the influences of the Dusseldorf and Munich Schools.
Morning of a New Day exhibits all the hallmarks of Farny's highly independent style, revealing the international influences on his approach to painting a wholly national subject. Farny's treatment of the subject of the American Indians won the artist great popularity and acclaim during his lifetime which has continued to grow to this day.
The combination of a strong horizontal format, a high contrasting horizon line in the distance and tactical grouping of figures became something of a formula for Farny once he recognized the balance and strength it could lend his images. Many of Farny's most successful works, including Morning of a New Day, employ this characteristic composition. Denny Carter writes, "Even when the balance of Farny's composition is asymmetrical, it is responsible for the quietism and stability of his paintings. This balance expresses both the permanence of the landscape and its dominance over the Indian inhabitants who seem to live in harmony with the landscape." (Henry Farny, New York, 1978, p. 28)
The naturalness and realism of Morning of a New Day can be attributed to the compositional devices Farny routinely used in his major oil paintings. Several of the most effective tools were a result in Farny's interest in Japanese art. As Denny Carter writes, "By varying the viewpoint of the composition, cutting off the elements at the edge of the painting, and employing asymmetrical compositions, Farny used the Japanese motifs to achieve a more realistic representation of the landscape."(Henry Farny, p. 28) Farny learned these avant-garde devices from the Japanese design books he kept in his studio. As early as 1873, Farny recognized and assimilated the unique aesthetic ideas of the Japanese art which gained popularity and admiration among European and American artists of the day. In Morning of a New Day, Farny arranges a wonderfully flowing composition in a balanced fashion.