John Fery: Artist of Glacier National Park & The American West


JOHN FERY (1859-1934), Swiftcurrent Falls, oil on canvas, 69 × 128 inches

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John Fery: Artist of Glacier National Park & The American West is a 288 page hardcover book, 10 × 12 inches, and features an unprecedented selection of 284 B&W and color illustrations. Now available for $75 (+$12 shipping) – order online today or by calling our office at 208-772-9009.

“It is for everyone who appreciates Western landscape, loves
Glacier Park, and wants to know more about a painter who
impressed his vision on generations of travelers called west
by the mountains. All aboard for Fery-land.”

— From the Foreword by Brian W. Dippie


In John Fery’s lifetime, more Americans saw his art in person than almost any other artist. Train depots, hotels, universities, ships, travel agencies, and corporations all proudly displayed his magnificent paintings. What was not familiar was the man behind these impressive landscape paintings not only of Glacier National Park but also many other vistas of the American West. This biography makes use of 284 illustrations that document a remarkable life while also presenting the people and times in which Fery lived. More than that, it explains in detail the relationship between John Fery and his main patron, Louis W. Hill of Great Northern Railway fame.


Born Johann Levy in 1859 to a well-to-do family from Hungary, Fery was smitten early on with painting the Alps. After the death of both of his parents when he was just a teenager, Johann sought formal art training in Vienna, Munich, and Düsseldorf. By the early 1880s he had changed his name to John Fery and was hired on by German immigrant painters to work on cycloramas in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. Subsequently, along with his French wife Mary, he traveled through the Hudson River Valley in New York; lived in Cleveland for a while; explored Yellowstone National Park and Jackson Hole, Wyoming; and eventually located to booming Duluth, Minnesota where he worked on a mural for the Fitgar Brewery. In 1895 it was there that a young Louis W. Hill working for his famous father, James J. Hill, fell in love with Fery’s art.


Years later, in 1910 Louis Hill hired John Fery to paint the scenery of Glacier National Park. These paintings were used as promotional tools to entice tourists to ride the train to the park and stay at the chalets and lodges that the Great Northern Railway built from 1910 to 1915. When that highly successful commission ended, Fery headed to California and was hired by the Southern Pacific Railway to paint Yosemite, Lake Tahoe, and other views of California and Arizona.


Thereafter, Fery wandered the West painting landscapes in Oregon, Washington, and Idaho. John and Mary Fery lived for awhile in Salt Lake City where several dealers sold his paintings, and he garnered commissions from a number of patrons to not only paint the Wasatch Mountains, but also the canyon lands of Bryce and Zion.


In 1925 Fery once again was hired to paint Glacier country, especially the area around the newly constructed Prince of Wales Hotel (1927) in Canada just north of Glacier National Park. Later, he moved to the Puget Sound area and spent his final days there before dying in 1934.


Alongside Peterson’s engrossing tale of the life of this great painter, the 284 illustrations offer an unprecedented selection of Fery’s works—a view at once panoramic and intimate.

John Fery: Artist of Glacier National Park & The American West


Dr. Larry Len Peterson is a native of Plentywood, Montana and a frequent visitor to Glacier National Park. His publications include The Call of the Mountains: The Artists of Glacier National Park; Philip R. Goodwin: America’s Sporting and Wildlife Artist; L. A. Huffman: Photographer of The American West; and Charles M. Russell: Photographing the Legend, A Biography in Words and Pictures. Peterson is the recipient of two Western Heritage Awards and the Scriver Bronze.


Dr. Brian W. Dippie is retired as Professor of History at the University of Victoria, British Columbia. He is the author of numerous books and articles on the history and art of the American West, including The Vanishing American: White Attitudes and U.S. Indian Policy; Charles M. Russell: Word Painter; Remington and Russell: The Sid Richardson Collection; and Catlin and His Contemporaries: The Politics of Patronage.


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