John Seerey-Lester’s career spans some 36 years, but many today associate his name with a series of 110 paintings that he included in Legends of the Hunt, an award-winning storybook based on 85 true-life stories that John culled from the Golden Age of Hunting that extended from 1850 to 1930. Just in time for the holidays, the realist painter is giving collectors, fans and art lovers worldwide something new to envision with the release of his much-anticipated sequel, Legends of the Hunt - Campfire Tales.
Campfire Tales is a 200-page large format coffee table book that contains a mouth-watering 150 paintings based on 60 true life stories that document life and death encounters with dangerous game and strange, often-bizarre events that defy description. Among the legendary figures appearing in the book is Theodore Roosevelt and his illustrious contemporaries. In fact, the coffee table tome contains a most insightful foreword by Tweed Roosevelt, the President's great-grandson.
The tales Seerey-Lester weaves come to life through John's authentic, wonderfully absorbing images, which transport viewers into the past to join iconic hunters as they relate their adventures around the campfire. But the paintings are not purely stylized fabrications. Seerey-Lester takes great pains to be historically and anthropologically accurate. To get the details right, Seerey-Lester spends hours upon hours studying the journals left behind by legendary huntsmen like Ernest Hemingway, Kalman Kittenberger, Fritz Schindelar and, of course, Terry Roosevelt, as well as famous hunts women including Beryl Markham, Karen Blixen, Florence Baker and Mary Kingsley.
“I have dramatized their stories, but never changed the facts," Seerey Lester recounted in a 2012 interview. "They are all based on real events.” Fortunately, fiction couldn’t be more amazing.
Except in rare instances, Seerey-Lester doesn't have the benefit of a photographic record. “When most of those events … took place,” John wrote in 2009 in the Forward of Legends of the Hunt, “there was limited photography or none at all. These images are from my imagination based on the facts as we know them. I pose the models, lay out the artifacts and refer to the many sketches I have done on location, and then compose the painting. They are not illustrations – they are paintings inspired by real events and are hopefully works of art in their own right that bring to life the stories I have retold.”
While each of the paintings in both his Legends of the Hunt and Campfire Scenes series tells a dramatic story, Seerey-Lester never lets the viewer forget that he or she is looking at a painting. Each canvas and wood panel is marvelously textured and built layer upon layer through the use of powerful yet economic brushstrokes. Although a realist, the painter refuses to get lost in unimportant details and broad expanses of his support often display almost impressionist stylings which serve to strategically enhance the impeccable details provided where they matter. Each is a work of art that demands and delivers a mastery of not only wildlife art, but figurative work, portraiture, equestrian art, landscape and floral art, and elements of the still life.
Legends of the Hunt: Campfire Tales is available in four versions:
- Gallery Edition - Large format, four color hardcover coffee table book with dust jacket, $60.00
- Buffalo Edition - Brown Leather-bound, limited edition of 350 with a special signed and numbered fine art print, $150.00
- Leopard Edition - Red Leather-bound, limited edition of 250, with a hand-colored, signed and numbered fine art print, $250.00
- Black Leopard Edition - Black Leather bound limited edition of 100 with an original painting, by Seerey-Lester, $995.00
You can view Seerey-Lester's paintings and prints locally at Naples' Call of Africa - Native Visions, an art destination synonymous with wildlife and native art in oil, acrylics and pastels, as well as limited edition giclees and bronze, verdite and leadwood sculpture, cast glass, and Raku pottery.
While Seerey-Lester is busy with book signings in the immediate future (Dallas Safari Club on January 9-12; Houston Safari Club on January 17-19; Safari Club Int. in Las Vegas on February 5-9; and SEWE in Charleston, South Carolina on February 13-16), Native Visions is planning an exhibition and book signing in early 2014. For details, follow Native Visions on Facebook or visit http://www.nativevisions.com/.
The gallery is located at 737 5th Avenue South, Naples, FL 34102 in the heart of historic Fifth Avenue South. For more information, please telephone (239) 643.3785.