The Frieze of Discoverers, 1910
Commissioned for the Pan-American Union Building
Now displayed in the Organization of American States,
Room, Washington, D.C.
Farnham was awarded this important commission on December 31, 1908. The panels, depicting the discovery, exploration, and settlement of the Americas, were originally meant for the Director's office, but upon further debate it was decided that the cost of them dictated that the panels be placed in a more public area. Farnham intensely studied the histories of the Americas and, with the guidance and advice of Elihu Root, Secretary of State and the Pan American Union Director, John Barrett, settled on the following themes:
1. Conquest of Mexico by Cortez
2. Landing of Columbus, October 12, 1492
3. Discovery of the Pacific by Balboa.
4. Pizarro, the conqueror of Peru, marching to subdue the Incas
5. Simon Bolivar leading his army across a mountain pass
6. The landing of King John in the port of Rio de Janeiro
7. Meeting of Champlain with the Huron and the Algonquin Indian chiefs
Farnham was sensitive to the realities and the brutality that the conquest of these lands provoked. She wrote to Barrett in 1909 that "I have carefully refrained from battles and murder and there is no suggestion of death in any of the panels. They are as peaceful as one can make warlike subjects."
In 1915, Farnham was asked to place plaster copies of these panels in the California Building at the Panama-California Exposition in San Diego. The plaster copies are in storage in San Diego's Museum of Man.