John Fery

– 1934


Studio with Flowers by John Fery

Studio with Flowers

6 x 9.5 – watercolor – sold

About John Fery


Johann Nepomuk Levy–John Fery’s name before he Americanized it–was born in Strasswalchen, Austria on March 25, 1859 to Hungarians Jahn and Mary Levy. Johann’s idyllic childhood filled with painting, hunting, and hiking came to an end in his teenage years when both parents died unexpectedly. An inheritance allowed him to attend the Vienna Academy of Fine Arts where he studied many art styles including Realism, Romanticism, and Impressionism. Further formal training was obtained at the prestigious Munich Royal Academy of Fine Arts and the Dusseldorf Academy.

As did many other European artists, Johann immigrated to the United States to seek the opportunities that the “American Dream” promised. A short time after his arrival in 1883, the young artist changed his name to John Fery. He soon found work in Milwaukee, Wisconsin where a number of German immigrant artists were hired to work on giant panorama paintings. After he and his wife, Mary Rose Kraemer, had their first child, they relocated to the Hudson River Valley in eastern New York. This gave him an opportunity to study the works of Bierstadt, Hill, and Moran, among others.

In 1890 they relocated to booming Duluth, Minnesota to work on a mural for the Fitger Brewing Company. But Fery dreamed of exploring the Rockies, and in 1891 he rode the Northern Pacific Railway to Yellowstone National Park and eventually all the way to Seattle. During the trip, he sketched, painted, and photographed the awe inspiring beauty of the American West. Louis Hill noted from afar the rising fame of Fery who was considered an outstanding landscape artist with the physicality to hike, climb, and camp in formidable terrain.

John Fery was given the daunting task of producing hundreds of large paintings from 1910 to 1913 that could be distributed throughout America and around the world to attract tourists to Glacier National Park. His work found its way to the walls of train depots, hotels, ships, travel agencies, colleges, and other institutions. Early on in their time in Glacier, the Fery family was neighbors of Charlie and Nancy Russell.

In 1915 John Fery traveled to San Francisco to take in the Panama-Pacific International Exposition where artist’s works from all over the world–including a number of Fery’s Glacier Park oils–were on display. Louis Hill who had a vacation home south of the Bay area helped Fery obtain commissions from the Southern Pacific Railway. The work took him to Yosemite National Park; Lake Tahoe; Central and Southern California; and Arizona.

Ten years later, Louis Hill once again called on his favorite landscape artist to return to Glacier. From 1925 to 1930, Fery completed approximately seventy-five paintings for the railway. It would be his last major commission. John kept a studio in Everett, Washington until his death on September 10, 1934.

Larry Len Peterson, author of John Fery: Artist of Glacier National Park & The American West

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