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 Paul Paulding Farnham  (1859 - 1927)

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Lived/Active: California/New York      Known for: silver design, sculpture, marine paintings

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This biography from the Archives of AskART:

The following information was submitted in July of 2006 by Michael Reed:

Paul Farnham was born George Paulding Farnham on November 6, 1859 in New York City.  He began an apprenticeship at Tiffany and Co. under the supervision of his maternal uncle, Charles T. Cook.  His creative and inspired designs soon began to bring notoriety to the firm and he was eventually named head of the jewelry (1891) and silver departments (1899).  Some of his best known works are the Adams Vase (1893), the Belmont Stakes Trophy (1896) and the Admiral Dewey sword (1898).

During this time period, Farnham was also known as an accomplished sculptor.  He became a member of the National Sculpture Society in 1895 and was noted for his bust of Charles L. Tiffany, a plaster Phoenecia and the Wind and Psyche.  Sadly, most of these works are not accounted for today.

On December 31, 1896 Farnham married Sally James of Ogdensburg, NY.  She was to become a sculptor of great note, best known for her monument of Simon Bolivar(1921) in Central Park.  The family lived at their estate, Stepping Stones, in Great Neck, NY.  His entries for Tiffany at the Paris Exposition in 1900 won him two gold medals and the firm the grand prize for jewelry. 

His career at Tiffany and Co. came to a sudden end in 1908 when he resigned from his position due to creative differences with the firm’s new President, Louis C. Tiffany.   For the next few years he shared a studio with is wife in New York.  He soon tired of this and traveled West to explore mining prospects in Nevada, California and British Columbia draining the family’s fiancé and patience.  Sally James Farnham was granted a divorce from Paulding on August 2, 1915. 

Farnham shortened his professional name to Paul and settled in Oakland, California.  From this period on, he never spoke of his time at Tiffany, turning his back almost completely on his past.  He began work on a series of paintings based on a historical marine series titled Ancient Ships of the Merchant Marine that Opened the Commerce of the World.  He first exhibited the works at the Hotel Oakland in 1920 then traveled in 1924 when they were shown at the Corcoran Gallery of Art (April 1-22), the Baltimore Museum of Art (April 24-May 5) and the Vose Gallery in Boston (May 10-24). 

Paulding Farnham died on August 10, 1927 at the Agnew State Hospital in Santa Clara County, California. 

Museums Collections:
The Metropolitan Museum of Art
Art Gallery at the University of Pittsburgh
United States Naval Academy Museum
High Museum of Art

Books:
Paulding Farnham: Tiffany’s Lost Genius by John Loring, Harry N. Abrahms, Inc., NY, 2000.

Magazines:
Zapata, Janet, “The Rediscovery of Paulding Farnham, Tiffany’s Designer Extraordinaire” Part I and II, The Magazine Antiques, 139, no. 3 and 4 (March and April 1999), 556-567 and 719-729.

Exhibition Record (Museums, Institutions and Awards):
Paris Expo, 1900 (gold medals); Hotel Oakland, 1920 (solo); CGA, 1924.

This biography from the Archives of AskART:
Painter, illustrator, sculptor, designer.  Born in New York on Nov. 6, 1859.  “Paul” Farnham was a designer at Tiffany and Company for many years.  Leaving Tiffany’s in 1908, he had a studio in NYC before traveling west to pursue mining interests.  About 1915 he settled in Oakland.  He died in Santa Clara County, CA on Aug. 10, 1927.  Clipper ships and galleons are among his painting subjects. ¶ 

Source:
Edan Hughes, "Artists in California, 1786-1940"
Census; American Art Annual 1921; SF Examiner, 8-21-1927 (obituary).

Nearly 20,000 biographies can be found in Artists in California 1786-1940 by Edan Hughes and is available for sale ($150). For a full book description and order information please click here.

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