Harrison Fisher

The Illustrator and the American Woman

WHERE is one to find the real American girl in art? Which of our leading illustrators to-day in his work has come nearer to picturing the typical American woman as she is known to us? Here is a question that is of no little interest at this time. There are a number of leading illustrators to-day each giving us his conception of the American, and each has his host of followers. But in a majority of instances the girl has come to be known as the particular creation of the illustrator, and the one type shows through all his work. It is not so with Harrison Fisher, who is attracting great attention to-day by his work. His girl is not a creation, a fancy, an ideal. She is an actuality. She is the American girl as we find her in every-day life. She is the girl that Mr. Fisher sees. There is probably no illustrator to-day who follows his model more closely. And it is this fidelity in his work that forces Mr. Fisher to change his model often. It may be on this account largely that his girls are being so widely accepted as the real American girl. More than this, many society women and well-known actresses pose for Mr. Fisher. This gives him an opportunity to portray the most striking types of American Women.

Mr. Fisher believes that he has thus hit upon the true American woman. “What is the use of idealizing when the model is all that artist could ask?” he says. “If I can draw a handsome New York girl as she is to be seen on the street, riding, playing golf, or as we find her in the drawing room, is it not enough? Do such subjects not give us a picture that will please and charm any who see it?

“It is real life that we want to-day. As some writer has inquired, why try to paint a lily or gild refined gold? I am satisfied if I can put into my pictures the beauty, grace and style of the girls who pose for me or whom I study on the streets, in the theatres or in their homes. The American girl is good enough for me, and if only I can put her in my picture, I am contented.”

This apparently has been the secret of much of Mr. Fisher's success, although first he is a true artist. While not so much has been said of his men, or in fact any illustrator's men, the Fisher man is a distinct type. And it is one that is entirely satisfying to men and apparently attractive to women. His men are taken from real life. One realizes this the minute he sees them. But they are not picked up at random. Mr. Fisher first must find the type he admires, and what he is constantly searching for is character, as expressed in the face. In telling of the men he likes to picture he says:

“Give me the man of affairs, the business man or professional man. A man who has strength of character and who is doing something in the world. He is the typical American man as I see him. The man we admire today is he who is capable, full of energy, determined and successful. He is doing his part of the world's work. He is to be found on the streets of every city. He is the true American.”

Mr. Fisher is a young man. He began his career in San Francisco on a newspaper. Later he went to New York, where he now has his studio. Mr. Fisher comes of a family of artists. His grandfather was a painter, his father, Hugh Fisher, is well known for his water-colors, and his brother, Hugo Melville Fisher, has been engaged in illustrating and landscape painting. The latter is well known in Pittsburgh.

Harrison Fisher's art studio in New York is a stronghold for the leading illustrators. He has handsome rooms on Thirty-second street, where congregate many of the best-known artists in the country when he has an afternoon of leisure. Mr. Fisher goes to his work early. He is in his studio by 8 o'clock, and his work is finished by 3 o'clock in the afternoon. Then he has the remainder of the day to meet his friends and to get new ideas.

The Index, Volume XI, Number 23, Saturday, Dec. 10, 1904 - Pennsylvania