Farmann František /1896 – 1952/

Farmann was born on April 8, 1896 in Nitra (as Fahrmann) into a large family with 12 children as a son of a bricklayer without financial means...


Farmann was born on April 8, 1896 in Nitra (as Fahrmann) into a large family with 12 children as a son of a bricklayer without financial means, but who supported František´s drawing and painting gift since childhood. He also learned bricklaying, but he was more ambitious – he wanted to put himself into painting.

Farmann became an apprentice learning painting in Gustav Adlof Schűle´s school in Nitra. He spent 5 years in this studio and gained the basic fundamentals for his higher education. Many people were interested in the paintings by Farmann, especially in the portraits of his family members. He arouse public notice as well as notice amongst the rich respectabilities from Nitra region and painted their family members to commissions.

Even in the early works he devoted himself to the sacral painting and drew attention of clerics from Nitra and Trnava. He saved the earned money for his art studies. He left Nitra for the Academy of Fine Arts in Budapest and improved his painting technique at the Academy in Munich. After graduation he made several study trips and stays around European cities where he gained new experiences. He spent the longest period in Rome, Italy, where he studied painting at Prof. Rajmund Rivolli´s studio. Then he studied especially figurative painting at Penchiér´s studio in Paris. Farmann enjoyed travelling, foreign languages, different countries, their history and sights and was interested particularly in the historical painting. He wasn´t able to resist the Spanish architecture, painting and sculpture and continued with his studies at the Lisbon University. He was awarded a scholarship which he obtained in a competition (also Maximilián Schurmann, an artist born in Nitra was engaged in it) for altar-piece of St. Anton from Padua for the Franciscan church in Trnava, Slovakia. Afterwards Farmann went to Ružomberok, Slovakia where he met Andrej Hlinka, who took a fancy to him. During this time he also met the future painter and graphic artist Róbert Dúbravec. Then he moved to Bratislava and created free paintings – not only portrayal ones, but also those by Bratislava inspired motifs.

In the period of 1930s – 1950s he portrayed important personalities especially form the medical environment – prof. Koch, Kostlivý and Dérer. One of the very important works by Farmann is the oil painting ´Joy´ (200x120cm, from 1936). The central motif is St. Cyril and St. Methodius. Except of he figures of saints there are also other 150 additional motifs drawing from the period of the Great Moravian Empire through to the end of the 1930s. This painting was commissioned by ThDr. Ferdinand Juriga (1874-1950), who was an influential priest, politician and journalist.

The above mentioned work by Farmann depicts the key events of the Slovak nation and was a present of Slovak clerics to the Basilica Maria Maggiore in Rome, Italy. The artwork is of didactical, national as well as religious value. It is a memorial to the historical development in Slovakia.

In 1937 the Slovak Technical University was grounded at the premises of the former evening school of Max Schurmann. Farmann gave lectures there among many other famous artists/teachers – Martin Benka, Ján Mudroch, Ľudovít Fulla, Max Schurmann etc.. His professional artistic expression was influenced by his studies and study trips around Europe what earned him publicity and commissions. In 1939 he returned to Nitra and worked on church paintings in the near region. We can find a large number of his paintings in many Slovak towns and villages. He portrayed St. Anthony of Padua on the altar in the Franciscan church in Trnava, St. Stephan on the main altar in the Roman – Catholic church in Neverice, near Zlaté Moravce, Slovakia. He is the author of the calvary in the St. Martin´s church in Nitra painted in 1943. It was removed and stored in the depository of the church in 2009. Farmann created also other sacral artworks in Topoľčany, Bratislava and other locations around Slovakia.

Farmann devoted himself to the sacral painting also in the portrayal work. He captured the picturesque motifs from the old streets and historical parts of the Nitra castle above his house in Podzámska Str.. He depicted in an impressionistic and realistic way the dominant of Nitra – the Nitra Castle, park Sihoť, hill Zobor and its landscape scenery. These visual artworks form the old Nitra period sustained very rarely and those which did are held mostly in the private collections.

Farmann´s painting style was characterized by the precise brushwork technique with impressionistic features, bright colours and especially by the still-lives and the motifs of natural scenery. Many of his portraits are of a very high visual standard.

Two years before his death he was treated by Dr. Dérer in a hospital in Bratislava, suffering from a tropical illness morbus addison, which he caught during his journey to the northern Africa and Morocco. Despite of his illness he didn´t lose his love for painting until the end of his life.

František Farmann died before Christmas, on December 3, 1952 in Nitra. Even though his name and achievements are not inscribed in many fine art publications, we commemorate the 115th birth anniversary of this influential personality.