top of page



Click on an image for enlargement and more information

Feodor von Luerzer (1851 - 1913)

Feodor von Luerzer was born February 14, 1851, in Austria, the third of the eleven children of Count Matthias von Luerzer and his wife Eleanor. Being the older of the count's two sons, von Luerzer was in line to succeed to his father's title. The count was the chief forester of the district and it was his wish that his elder son would one day take over this position. Although he indulged his son's youthful interest in art, he never hoped that he would one day become a professional artist.

Records at the Vienna Art Academy indicate that von Luerzer was registered there as a student during the 1884-1885 winter semester. He was enrolled in a painting class where the instructor was Christian Griepenkerl (1839-1916), an artist remembered chiefly for his mythologically inspired murals.

Von Luerzer arrived in the U.S. in February 1886 and found work in Milwaukee as a panorama painter. The commercial production of immense panoramic paintings by teams of artists was a local industry in Milwaukee. The paintings generally depicted Civil War battles or religious subjects and were for the most part the work of German artists who had been brought to the United States for this purpose.

In the spring of 1889, von Luerzer set off with a friend by canoe, intending to go from Cleveland to Minneapolis. Instead, he ended his journey in Duluth, where he arrived in September. He soon established himself there as a professional artist with a studio in the now-demolished Ingalls Block.

One of von Luerzer's friends in Duluth was John Fery (1859-1934), a fellow Austrian whose career as a landscape artist was in many respects like von Luerzer's.  Fery was living in Duluth in 1890, though he later worked mostly in Milwaukee and St. Paul. The two artists had a chance to collaborate on wall paintings that were commissioned by a local brewery as decorations for a tap room. The paintings can now be seen in the Pickwick Restaurant in Duluth, where they were installed in 1914. The panels contributed by von Luerzer are whimsical grotesques depicting elves brewing beer while a tipsy monk looks on.

In 1893 von Luerzer closed his studio in Duluth and made a trip by canoe to visit the World's Columbian Exhibition in Chicago.  Upon his return to Duluth, he opened a new studio.


On November 25, 1897, he married Ella Brautigam, whose German immigrant parents owned a picnic ground on the Lake Superior shore. Von Luerzer built some summerhouses on that property.

In the spring of 1904 von Luerzer again closed his Duluth studio and left with his wife for an extended trip to California. The Duluth Herald reported in June that he intended to paint at the Calaveras Grove, a stand of giant sequoia trees owned by the Duluth timber magnate Robert Whiteside, who commissioned some paintings of the trees.  Although the Herald had predicted that von Luerzer would probably not return to Duluth, he was back in the city the following year. Kurt, the older of his two children, was born in Duluth on August 27, 1905.

In 1907 his wife's two brothers, Ernest and and Brautigam, purchased property on Lake Coeur d'Alene in western Idaho. Von Luerzer and his wife visited the place the following summer. He built a cabin on the property and in the summer of 1909 closed his Duluth studio for the final time and moved with his wife and son to Coeur d'Alene.

For the rest of his life, von Luerzer and his family spent summers at their cabin on Lake Coeur d'Alene and winters in Spokane, Washington, a short thirty-mile drive west of the cabin.


Von Luerzer died in Spokane on August 14, 1913. Death was due to pneumonia, but tuberculosis was a contributing cause.


Von Luerzer's paintings are executed in a carefully delineated realistic style. They are generally of moderate size, most ranging between one and three feet in length. Some idea of their subject matter can be gathered by studying the descriptions of the 66 van Luerzer paintings enumerated in the Smithsonian Institution's Inventory of American Paintings Executed Before 1914. Four of these works are watercolors, while the rest are oil paintings. Fifty-four of the paintings are landscapes, while the remaining works include animal subjects and two portraits. Numerous von Luerzer paintings are privately owned and several of his paintings are now in public collections such as the St. Louis County Historical Society in Duluth, the Minnesota Historical Society in St. Paul, and the Cheney Cowles Museum in Spokane.

bottom of page