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Remembering John Seerey-Lester

By Arthur Pearson, CEO

On behalf of the Roger Tory Peterson Institute, I’m sad to share the news that we’ve recently lost one of our dearest friends, John Seerey-Lester. John was a giant in the world of wildlife art. His work hangs in public and private collections the world over, including the White House – which is fitting since he is widely considered the preeminent modern-day artist of President Theodore Roosevelt.

John and Suzie Seery-Lester together in their art studio.

Like Roger Tory Peterson, John Seerey-Lester spent decades traveling the world and perfecting his craft. A native of England, he first gained praise for nostalgic scenes of the Victorian and Edwardian eras. A trip to East Africa sparked his passion for painting wildlife. Expeditions to China, India, the Arctic and Antarctica, Central and South America inspired a wealth of wildlife art, leading to numerous awards and honors, including a knighthood, bestowed by the Imperial and Royal Highness Archduke Andreas of Austria.

John served two terms as an RTPI board member. In 2016, we were honored to host a joint exhibition in the Institute’s main galleries, featuring the work of John and his wife, Suzie Seerey-Lester. Entitled Keeping the World Wild, the exhibition featured birds and mammals from around the world – from wolves to white ibises, from polar bears to water buffalo, from roseate spoonbills to giant pandas.

John Seerey-Lester speaking about his work at the Roger Tory Peterson Institute in 2016

Fellow board member Bill Hackney remembers John as a great storyteller as well as a great artist.

“The elephant took us through the tall grass,” John recounts in Impressions of India and Nepal. The tiger…suddenly charged through the bush towards us stopping short of the water that separated us. It was now only 15 feet away and partly in sunlight. The speed at which it moved was sudden and amazing. We could now see that it was a most magnificent male specimen. It lay, paws out front watching us intently. Most unnerving!”

Fortunately for us, John’s stories live on in his books and his original paintings and lithographs (a number of which are part of our permanent collection) – reminders of the beauty, drama and mystery found in nature throughout the world.

For more images and information about John and Suzie’s exhibition at RTPI: https://archive.rtpi.org/keeping-the-world-wild/

For more information about the artwork of John and Suzie Seerey-Lester: http://www.seerey-lester.com/

Moose on the Boulder River, John-Seerey-Lester, from The Peterson Collection