"The Father of a Thousand Girls"
Harrison Fisher was born in Brooklyn, New York, on July 27, 1877 (1), a third generation artist in a family that included his grandfather, Felix Xavier Fisher and his father, Hugo Antone Fisher. His grandparents emigrated from Austria, an area that is now in Czechoslovakia, with the family name of Fischer. For unknown reasons, the spelling later changed to Fisher after immigration.
When he was nine years old, he moved with his family to Alameda, California and attended public schools. Two years later, in 1889, his mother, age 35, died of Peritonitis. Their father took his two sons. Hugo Melville and Harrison, on a lengthy sketching trip along the Pacific coast, and then they settled again in Alameda.
The father instructed his sons in drawing and painting, and they also studied at the Mark Hopkins Institute of Art, formerly the San Francisco Art Association. Amedee Joullin, noted for his paintings of the Aztec Indians, was especially influential on Harrison's work. In 1894, an image he created of an Indian maid titled LAUGHING WATER, and shortly after this work was on a deck of cards issued by the United States Playing Card Company.
In 1894, Hugo Antone and his sons opened an art studio at 506 Battery Street in San Francisco, and that same year, one of Harrison's political cartoons titled JAPAN-MADE AMERICA appeared in the humor magazine Judge.
The following year, Harrison began working in the news room as a Staff Artist for the Morning Call, later the San Francisco Call. He did drawings of sporting events, society functions and pen and ink illustrations for short stories. He continued to do free-lance work for Judge magazine. About a year later, William Randolph Hearst hired him for the San Francisco Examiner, and then sent him to New York to beef up the New York Journal, which Hearst had just acquired. Harrison's work was so popular that he accepted an offer from PUCK magazine, a rival of Judge and one of the nations first humor magazines. He also did Saturday Evening Post covers and other magazine work, and for some time, there was scarcely a leading publication that did not have his work.
By 1906, he was rehired by Hearst for the American Magazine, renamed The American Weekly. Harrison also illustrated for Hearst publications, the most widely circulated in the country, which made the illustrator very famous. He was a top cover artist for Cosmopolitan and had a studio near their offices.
Harrison Fisher died unexpectedly on Friday, January 19, 1934, in Doctor's Hospital, Manhattan, New York, following an emergency apendectomy.(2)
The bulk of his estate ($268,805) was left to his secretary, Kate (Kitty) Clements, a friend and legal advisor.(3)
(1) Shown on death certificate
Harrison Fisher never married, but his "secretary", Kate Clements, was also his lifetime partner.
During World War One, Harrison Fisher showed his patriotism by illustrating posters for the US government, free of charge.
In one newspaper article he was quoted as lamenting that he drew women almost exclusively, but that is what the market demanded.
You can read more about Harrison Fisher's life in Naomi Welch's book The Complete Works of Harrison Fisher. It is an out of print book, but if you are lucky you can find a previously owned copy. [You cannot have mine.] :o)
"The American Girl has found no more facile pencil than that wielded by Mr. Harrison Fisher. He has succeeded in creating a beautiful type distinctly his own."
~ Ladies' Home Journal, 1910
"I love to draw."
I have collected Harrison Fisher Illustrations, Postcards, Magazines, (for many years) ... well, anything
he did, actually. These pages have been created from my personal collection; the scans may have slight color/hue differences
because of my graphic editing of images. I do have The Complete Works of Harrison Fisher Illustrator by Naomi Welch and
her American and European Postcards of Harrison Fisher Illustrator. I recommend both to anyone who has interest in
Harrison Fisher's work. There is also Harrison Fisher - DEFININING THE AMERICAN BEAUTY by Tina Skinner;
It is a marvelous book for collectors (which also includes a price guide by Bruce Magnotti.