Anton Otto Fischer

Anton Otto Fischer

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Anton Otto Fischer was an illustrator for the Saturday Evening Post.

Background


Born in Germany
Germany
Germany , officially the Federal Republic of Germany , is a federal parliamentary republic in Europe. The country consists of 16 states while the capital and largest city is Berlin. Germany covers an area of 357,021 km2 and has a largely temperate seasonal climate...

 and orphaned at any early age, he ran away at the age of 15 to escape being forced into priesthood. He came to America as a deck hand on a German
Germany
Germany , officially the Federal Republic of Germany , is a federal parliamentary republic in Europe. The country consists of 16 states while the capital and largest city is Berlin. Germany covers an area of 357,021 km2 and has a largely temperate seasonal climate...

 vessel. He sacrificed two months’ pay to obtain his freedom and then went on to sail on American ships for three years. For a fourteen-month period in 1905-1906, he worked as a model and general handyman for artist
Artist
An artist is a person engaged in one or more of any of a broad spectrum of activities related to creating art, practicing the arts and/or demonstrating an art. The common usage in both everyday speech and academic discourse is a practitioner in the visual arts only...

 Arthur Burdette Frost
A. B. Frost
Arthur Burdett Frost , was an early American illustrator, graphic artist and comics writer. He was also well known as a painter. Frost's work is well known for its dynamic representation of motion and sequence. Frost is considered one of the great illustrators in the "Golden Age of American...

. He went to Paris in October 1906 and studied for two years with Jean Paul Laurens at the Academie Julian
Académie Julian
The Académie Julian was an art school in Paris, France.Rodolphe Julian established the Académie Julian in 1868 at the Passage des Panoramas, as a private studio school for art students. The Académie Julian not only prepared students to the exams at the prestigious École des Beaux-Arts, but offered...

, spending summers painting landscapes in Normandy
Normandy
Normandy is a geographical region corresponding to the former Duchy of Normandy. It is in France.The continental territory covers 30,627 km² and forms the preponderant part of Normandy and roughly 5% of the territory of France. It is divided for administrative purposes into two régions:...

. Fischer returned to New York City
New York City
New York is the most populous city in the United States and the center of the New York Metropolitan Area, one of the most populous metropolitan areas in the world. New York exerts a significant impact upon global commerce, finance, media, art, fashion, research, technology, education, and...

 in January 1908. After being influenced by Howard Pyle
Howard Pyle
Howard Pyle was an American illustrator and author, primarily of books for young people. A native of Wilmington, Delaware, he spent the last year of his life in Florence, Italy.__FORCETOC__...

, he moved to Wilmington, Delaware
Wilmington, Delaware
Wilmington is the largest city in the state of Delaware, United States, and is located at the confluence of the Christina River and Brandywine Creek, near where the Christina flows into the Delaware River. It is the county seat of New Castle County and one of the major cities in the Delaware Valley...

 where he established a studio at 1110 Franklin Street. Pyle helped him transformed his firsthand knowledge into pictorial drama, but had little success in enlivening his lead-colored palette. He freelanced in “subject pictures,” or illustrations telling a human interest story that were in popular magazines of the day. During World War II
World War II
World War II, or the Second World War , was a global conflict lasting from 1939 to 1945, involving most of the world's nations—including all of the great powers—eventually forming two opposing military alliances: the Allies and the Axis...

 he was made the artist laureate of the United States Coast Guard
United States Coast Guard
The United States Coast Guard is a branch of the United States Armed Forces and one of the seven U.S. uniformed services. The Coast Guard is a maritime, military, multi-mission service unique among the military branches for having a maritime law enforcement mission and a federal regulatory agency...

.

Fischer married Mary Ellen ("May") Sigsbee (1877-1960) following her divorce from fellow artist William Balfour Ker (1877-1918). Mary Ellen Sigsbee, William Balfour Ker and Fischer were all artist
Artist
An artist is a person engaged in one or more of any of a broad spectrum of activities related to creating art, practicing the arts and/or demonstrating an art. The common usage in both everyday speech and academic discourse is a practitioner in the visual arts only...

 and former students of Howard Pyle
Howard Pyle
Howard Pyle was an American illustrator and author, primarily of books for young people. A native of Wilmington, Delaware, he spent the last year of his life in Florence, Italy.__FORCETOC__...

. After marriage, he adopted his wife's son from her first marriage, David (1906-1922). They first lived in Bushnellsville, New York before moving to a house near the intersection of Elmendorf Street and Ten Broeck Avenue in nearby Kingston
Kingston, New York
Kingston is a city in and the county seat of Ulster County, New York, USA. It is north of New York City and south of Albany. It became New York's first capital in 1777, and was burned by the British Oct. 16, 1777, after the Battles of Saratoga...

. The house still stands today and has a large north facing window that gave Fischer the light he needed to paint. In 1914, the couple had a child of their own, Katrina Sigsbee Fischer (1914-1998). The family eventually settled into a house off Glasco Turnpike in Woodstock, New York
Woodstock, New York
Woodstock is a town in Ulster County, New York, United States. The population was 5,884 at the 2010 census, down from 6,241 at the 2000 census.The Town of Woodstock is in the northern part of the county...

 just prior to World War II
World War II
World War II, or the Second World War , was a global conflict lasting from 1939 to 1945, involving most of the world's nations—including all of the great powers—eventually forming two opposing military alliances: the Allies and the Axis...

.

Career as an illustrator


After moving back to New York City in 1910, Fischer sold his first illustration to “Harper’s Weekly”, then illustrated an “Everybody’s Magazine” story by Jack London
Jack London
John Griffith "Jack" London was an American author, journalist, and social activist. He was a pioneer in the then-burgeoning world of commercial magazine fiction and was one of the first fiction writers to obtain worldwide celebrity and a large fortune from his fiction alone...

, for whom he would illustrate many books and magazine stories until London’s death in 1916. Also in 1910, Fischer began illustrating for “The Saturday Evening Post”, a relationship that would last for forty-eight years. He illustrated such stories as Kyne’s “Cappy Ricks,” Gilpatrick’s “Glencannon,” as well as serials by Kenneth Roberts, and Nordoff and Hall. From 1909 to 1920 he created more than one-thousand illustrations featuring women and babies, pretty girls, dogs and horses, sports, the Navy
Navy
A navy is the branch of a nation's armed forces principally designated for naval and amphibious warfare; namely, lake- or ocean-borne combat operations and related functions...

 and the sea. He later went on to illustrate Tugboat Annie in 1931. He confessed his favorite character was “that old reprobate Glencannon,” with the big broom moustache.

U.S. Navy Commander Lincoln Lothrop had once written to the artist: “My two lads, one of whom is now a twenty-two-year-old lieutenant in the Navy
Navy
A navy is the branch of a nation's armed forces principally designated for naval and amphibious warfare; namely, lake- or ocean-borne combat operations and related functions...

 … used to cut out your pictures and pin them on the walls of their rooms. … You are responsible for recruiting many a seagoing lad.” His work on seas scapes got Fischer an invitation to lunch with Vice Admiral Russell Waesche, Commandant of the Coast Guard
Commandant of the Coast Guard
The Commandant of the United States Coast Guard is the highest ranking member of the United States Coast Guard. The Commandant is normally the only four-star Admiral in the Coast Guard and is appointed for a four-year term by the President of the United States upon confirmation by the United...

 for the purpose of recruiting at the height of World War II
World War II
World War II, or the Second World War , was a global conflict lasting from 1939 to 1945, involving most of the world's nations—including all of the great powers—eventually forming two opposing military alliances: the Allies and the Axis...

. The January 9, 1943, Post described a good encounter with the Vice Admiral. Although Waesche knew Fischer was born in Germany
Germany
Germany , officially the Federal Republic of Germany , is a federal parliamentary republic in Europe. The country consists of 16 states while the capital and largest city is Berlin. Germany covers an area of 357,021 km2 and has a largely temperate seasonal climate...

 and anti-New Deal
New Deal
The New Deal was a series of economic programs implemented in the United States between 1933 and 1936. They were passed by the U.S. Congress during the first term of President Franklin D. Roosevelt. The programs were Roosevelt's responses to the Great Depression, and focused on what historians call...

er, but by late that same afternoon, Fischer was sworn in as a lieutenant commander
Lieutenant Commander
Lieutenant Commander is a commissioned officer rank in many navies. The rank is superior to a lieutenant and subordinate to a commander...

 in the Coast Guard
Coast guard
A coast guard or coastguard is a national organization responsible for various services at sea. However the term implies widely different responsibilities in different countries, from being a heavily armed military force with customs and security duties to being a volunteer organization tasked with...

. He was charged with putting on canvas some of the heroic deeds of the Merchant Mariners and Coast Guardsmen, then considered at the time the least publicized men of the armed forces.His drawings are archived in the Coast Guard Academy in New London, Connecticut
New London, Connecticut
New London is a seaport city and a port of entry on the northeast coast of the United States.It is located at the mouth of the Thames River in New London County, southeastern Connecticut....

.

Also known for illustrating books such as Moby Dick, Treasure Island, and 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea, Anton Otto Fischer died far from his beloved sea in the Catskill Mountains
Catskill Mountains
The Catskill Mountains, an area in New York State northwest of New York City and southwest of Albany, are a mature dissected plateau, an uplifted region that was subsequently eroded into sharp relief. They are an eastward continuation, and the highest representation, of the Allegheny Plateau...

 of Woodstock, New York
Woodstock, New York
Woodstock is a town in Ulster County, New York, United States. The population was 5,884 at the 2010 census, down from 6,241 at the 2000 census.The Town of Woodstock is in the northern part of the county...

, in 1962 at the age of 80.

The Friends of Historic Kingston
Kingston, New York
Kingston is a city in and the county seat of Ulster County, New York, USA. It is north of New York City and south of Albany. It became New York's first capital in 1777, and was burned by the British Oct. 16, 1777, after the Battles of Saratoga...

 hosted a lecture featuring Fischer's great-nephew, Andre Mele, in September 2011. Mele remembered 'Uncle Otto' with a heavy German
Germans
The Germans are a Germanic ethnic group native to Central Europe. The English term Germans has referred to the German-speaking population of the Holy Roman Empire since the Late Middle Ages....

 accent who often enjoyed playing the piano and smoking cigars. He could frequently be found gardening
Gardening
Gardening is the practice of growing and cultivating plants. Ornamental plants are normally grown for their flowers, foliage, or overall appearance; useful plants are grown for consumption , for their dyes, or for medicinal or cosmetic use...

 or listening to the New York Yankees
New York Yankees
The New York Yankees are a professional baseball team based in the The Bronx, New York. They compete in Major League Baseball in the American League's East Division...

on the radio through his headphones. Fischer was often sought after for his investment advice and amassed a $2 million fortune during his lifetime.

External links