February 14, 1851: Birth of Duluth artist Von Luerzer

One of two paintings titled Sequoia, painted by Duluth’s Feodor von Luerzer, are part of the St. Louis County Historical Society’s collection. (Image: St.Louis County Historical Society)

On this day in 1851, future Duluthian and artist Feodor Von Luerzer was born in the Austrian province of Salzburg. According to Zenith City’s David Ouse, following several years of service in the Austrian military Von Luerzer enrolled in the Vienna Art Academy to study painting. After spending some time traveling through Europe, he immigrated to the United States about 1886. Like many artists from Europe, he found work in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, as a panorama painter. In late 1887, he moved to Cleveland, Ohio, where he had an art studio for a couple of years. Von Luerzer left Cleveland by canoe in the spring of 1889, heading west on Lake Erie. In the fall of that year, he arrived in Duluth; he apparently liked the city and decided to stay. While in Duluth, Von Luerzer maintained a studio (housed at several locations throughout the years) where he both painted and gave lessons to groups and individuals. In Duluth, Von Luerzer painted mostly landscapes and scenes of the logging industry. In 1899 he was hired to paint interior decorations in the residence of the Right Rev. James McGolrick, Bishop of the Diocese of Duluth, at 211 West 4th Street. Around 1900 Von Luerzer and fellow artist and Austrian John Fery were hired to paint murals in the Brewery Saloon inside the Fitger Brewery. Von Luerzer’s paintings depicted, among other things, elves brewing beer and inebriated monks and a depiction of August Fitger’s boyhood home in Delmenhorst, Germany. In 1914 the murals were moved to the new Brewery Saloon Fitger had built next to the brewery at 508 East Superior Street. In 1916 the Brewery Saloon became the Pickwick, which still operates today. The murals can still be seen in the restaurant’s Dutch Room. Von Luerzer died in Spokane on August 19, 1913; you can read much more about him here.

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