Rita Rasmussen

  • "Harrison Fisher"
  • "The Father of a Thousand Girls"
Harrison Fisher Discovered A New Type Of Beauty

Miss Maurine Rasmussen, the beautiful San Francisco girl, who aroused the enthusiasm of Harrison Fisher the famous illustrator when he was on the Pacific Coast last Summer, is coming to New York very soon to pose for him as an ideal American girl.

"I have a lot of work all mapped out for her," declared Mr. Fisher when seen by a Sunday Times reporter. "She is an excellent model. When I was in San Francisco I made a sketch of her in the lobby of the Palace Hotel." He fumbled about among dozens of sketches, but couldn't find the one he wanted. But before many days elapse there will be plenty of such sketches in the Harrison Fisher studio if half the plans which the artist is making are carried out.

Prominent among the studio's decorations is an enormous Mexican hat -- such a hat as one sees in the depictions of "vaqueros" and "bad men" and all the other things that make the West what it is in the East. Mr. Fisher smiles when asked if that hat will be part of Miss Rasmussen's costume when she poses for him here. "It certainly will," he says. "I intend to draw pictures of Western life with her as a model. She will be fine as an outdoor girl. Of course, I won't have a monoply ----" Miss Rasmussen's excellence as a model, he evidently knows, will bring her into great demand as soon as she strikes town.

[ Sunbonnet Girl, Girl of the Golden West, Rita Rasmussen]

Harrison Fisher went west last August. The day after his arrival in San Francisco the papers there came out with big headlines announcing that the celebrated illustrator was on a quest for the ideal Western beauty. No sooner had that appeared than he was besieged by scores of girls, who thought, with more or less justification, that they were the beauty mentioned.

"Miss Rasmussen was on a ranch many miles from San Francisco," Mr. Fisher told The Times man, "when she heard of my advent and my quest. She immediately set out on a twenty-five mile walk to the nearest railroad station, took the first train, and presented herself before me.

"She is a mighty pretty girl, with beautiful features and a splendid set of the head. After I had sketched her she told me that she intended to visit New York, and not only pose for me but keep up her art work -- she is an artist herself. She said then that she would be here in October, but something happened to delay her. She then wrote that she expected to be here soon after the holidays."

Miss Rasmussen is a daughter of Charles Rasmussen, a noted artist of San Francisco. She is 25 years old and has won distinction already as a water-color artist, having been particularly successful in making sketches of wome and children in the Chinatown of her native city. Her sketches of the Chinese residents of San Francisco are much in demand, and many of them hand in the homes of rich San Franciscans.

Miss Rasmussen is tall and slender. She carries her head well -- a trait in her which the artist especially likes.

That the ideal American beauty should be somewhat of a cosmopolitan is evidenced by the fact the Miss Rasmussen's Americanism comes from a blend of Irish and Danish blood. Her first name, Maurine - an Irishism for Mary - is not the only reminder of the Celtic strain in her. She has that combination which, it seems only the Irish possess in perfection - a wealth of dark hair combined with beautiful blue eyes. Her Danish extraction is shown by a lovely fair complexion, which is the proudest boast of the daughters of the little Scandinavian monarchy.

She is 5 feet 8 inches tall. Mr. Fisher considers that an extremely meritorious height of a woman who could pose for him. In addition to all these charms, she is described as "sensitive and high bred."

She has been somewhat upset at the notoriety attendant on Mr. Fisher's approval of her as a model. The other day she wrote him expressing her concern that she should have brought such a shower of newspaper items about his ears.

But her fame has not stopped at newspaper items.

"Why, vaudeville agents are after her trying to get her to go on the stage just as soon as she arrives here," Mr. Fisher told the reporter. He waved his hand toward a number of letters on the mantlepiece of his studio. "Miss Rasmussen, care of Mr. Harrison Fisher," there were addressed.

"Those, probably, are offers of theatrical engagements," he informed the visitor.

In talking about Miss Rasmussen and her coming invasion of New York, Mr. Fisher took occasion to make some remarks on the kind of girl he is trying to put into his illustrations nowadays -- a kind of which he feels that his new Irish-Danish recruit will be an eminently meritorious example.

"Americans are getting very tired of the pictures of girls who are simply sweet and pretty," he said. "They have had all they want of magazine covers showing girls all primped and prettied up, with masses of curly golden hair falling over them.

"What they want now is a girl who is natural. The real American girl is a natural girl, so what is coming in art is nothing more or less than the American girl as she really is. This desire for naturalness in art has been noticeable during the last two years.

"I intend, in future, to draw girls who show character -- girls with plenty of red blood in them. Just now I am busy with an awful rush of work, and my plans are all mapped out ahead for some time, so I won't have time to put any new ideas into execution.

"But just as soon as the rush isn't so big I'm going to get busy drawing really red-blooded girls."

He pointed to a sketch of a very pretty young lady, with a steady eye and a chin implying that she harbored a will of her own.

"There:" he exclaimed. "That's the kind of girl I'm talking about. Just before you came in the art editor of one of the magazines came here to give me an order. He caught sight of that little sketch.

"It seemed to please him. He studied it quite a while.

" 'Isn't there a new note in that?' he asked.

" 'Yes -- it's one I've been trying to ram under your nose for a long time,' I replied."

Then the talk reverted to the beautiful Miss Rasmussen of San Francisco, "so soon to be Miss Rasmussen of New York, and Mr. Fisher had something mighty interesting to say as to "Western" types.

"It is by no means necessary to go to the West to get them," he asserted. "Why, you can walk along Sixth Avenue and find girls who look just as Western as possible. I've hired such girls as models, brought them up here to the studio, put a big sombrero on their heads you know how" -- he flung back his own head in a way suggesting daredeviltry and the broad horizon of the plains -- " I've stood them up that way, and they're just as Western as any girl born and bred on the prairies.

"On the other hand, I've seen girls out in California -- regular cowboy girls, used to riding and roughing it all their lives --, girls who have never lived in cities -- and yet, when they're posing all dressed up as if to go to a big ball they're absolutely perfect.

"Miss Rasmussen is the kind of girl who can pose well for almost anything. You see, she's very intelligent.

"You've no idea how hard it is to pick out a model who has intelligence -- and if she hasn't any she's useless, no matter how pretty she is or how good a figure she has.

"Out there" -- he waved his hand toward the stairs beyond his studio door -- "out there, sometimes, a whole crowd of girls liies in wait for me, hoping to be hired as models. They come with their mothers sometimes, and sometimes alone. Working girls, girls with money, chorus girls -- all kinds. And yet in the whole bunch there is hardly one fit to be a model. Time and again, I've lliked girls' looks, given them a try, and posed them. As soon as that happened it was all off.

"I would find that it was impossible for me to draw them. They didn't know how to stand, how to keep the pose I wanted, how to express what I intended to convey in my picture.

"Oh, I can assure you that I'm mighty glad that a model as good as Miss Rasmussen has decided to come all the way from San Francisco to New York to pose for me. I know what it means to discover good models."

About his studio were a number of sketches having a curious similarity. Now it would be the eyes of one which seemed like the eyes of another; now it would be the chin, or the way the hair lay on the brow, or something like that. Sio the reporter inquired if they weren't all drawn from the same model.

He had guessed right.

"And she's a mighty good model, too." said Mr. Fisher with enthusiasm.

"Really, she deserves some of the fame which has come to Miss Rasmussen. She is a girl who has plenty of money; so she is by no means dependent on posing for a livelihood. But she is so interested in the work that she comes here day after day and spends hours in posing for my pictures."

"Her friends had teased her so much by telling her that she was a 'typical Harrison Fisher girl' that at last she decided to hunt me up and ask my opinion on the subject.

"I agreed with her friends. As a result, she is now one of my best models -- a remarkably intelligent girl. She never posed in her life before she came to me."

Mr. Fisher's studio bears out amply all the statemen's that have been to the effect that he is one of the busiest artists of the present day. On easels, against walls, or just scattered about haphazard on the floor, are pictures, some all ready to be hustled over to magazines impatiently clamoring for them, others in a state of chaotic youth, beginnings, mere tentative daubs not suggesting even remotely what they are destined to be -- dashing covers for some periodical.

"Honestly, I feel as if all the art editors in America had been there to-day," sighed Mr. Fisher. "One of them actually ordered a dozen covers for his magazine -- one dozen, mind you! -- and I haven't a single idea of them so far. But I'll turn them out somehow and get them to him before he gets too impatient.

"Another was in here only a few minutes ago. 'Where's the cover you promised us?' he askded. 'You told us it would be ready this afternoon.'

" 'Oh, there's been a little delay,' said I. 'You see, there have been eight days of very bad light and I havent't been able to work on it as hard as I intended. But it will be ready to-morrow.'

"So he departed, appeased."

Here Mr. Fisher grinned slyly and pointed to the head of a girl -- or rather about one-fifth of a head of a girl, bearing every evidence of having just sprung into being.

"She's the cover which that art editor wants," he chuckled. "I began drawing her the moment he left the studio. And I'll have to work mighty hard to get her ready by to-morrow. But she'll be ready, all right."

It isn't only drawing pictures and struggling to get the right sort of models for them which keeps Mr. Harrison Fisher so feverishly busy. There is something else.

He is beset by that which comes, unbidden, to all celebrities -- an appalling number of admirers who simply must pour out their admiration by way of the United States mail.

"Yesterday I decided to answer some of the letters which had been accumulating here," said the artist, "So I sat down and got to work. How many replies do you think I wrote? Sixty!

"The letters are not only from autograph friends -- a great many are from people -- young girls mostly -- who think they can draw and want me to give an opinion of their work, of which they inclose [sic] samples.

Mr. Fisher showed one of these samples:

"Isn't that awful?" he groaned. "You can imagine how difficult it is to write my opinion, in a case like that."

One of the artist's youthful female correspondents declares that she fell in love with the sketch of Maurice [sic] Rasmussen may [sic] by him.

"I think she is the handsomest girl I ever saw, remarks this young enthusiast.

"I just sat down and drew her face on paper, and I know there is something missing about the picture I drew. Still, I can't say what, so I am sending it to you. Of course, I never took any lessons, because my folks and I live on a large farm and there is always something to pay out money for on a farm. But my mother and father think I do pretty well on drawing, so they are going to try and give me lessons, but I don't know when it will ever be.

"I love drawing better than anything. Please write and tell me just what you think I can be for an artist." At the foot of the letter is this proud postscript: "I never trace. I always draw freehand or not at all."

A Westerner, writing to congratulate Mr. Fisher on his discovery of the lovely Miss Rasmussen in the West says:

"Pardner, I am a cowboy myself and a bit of an artist. I'm just a Western kid. I was born twenty-one years ago; never did anything in my life but ride, and I sure can eat it.

"I first started to draw when I had time to myself in the bunkhouse or on the range. I'd draw pictures of the boys. One day I drew the ranch owner, which almost cost me my job."

A third aspirant for artistic honors tells Mr. Fisher this:

"I am 18 years old, have the appearance of 21, brains the same, without exaggerating in the least.

"The public of my town," he adds, "just laughs at my work; this is due to the fact that ignorance is their bliss.

"Now, Mr. Fisher," he concludes, "had I but the chance to work in or around your studio, merely for what I could live on or less, I believe I could become your successor, after your departure for the field of art. It if were to be so it would bring to me a harmonious bliss."

"And look at this one, please," says the artist, fishing a coy-looking little note from a pile of correspondence.

The not is from a girl who confesses to sixteen Summers, announces that she intends to call on the artist just as soon as she gets back from Europe, and begs prettily for his autograph because "Mr. Fisher, I do so love the way you sign your name'."

"Sometimes twelve or fifteen of them come in one morning's mail," sighs the celebrity.

Out in San Francisco, Miss Rasmussen is as enthusiastic over Mr. Fisher's artistic attainments as he is over her qualifications as a model.

"Mr. Fisher is a wonderful artist," she said the other day. "He has the power to idealize the type which he seeks."

Her family are reconciled to her becoming the Harrison Fisher girl of to-morrow, even though it means her journeying thousands of miles away from them.

"For years," said the mother, "our friends in San Francisco have suggested that Maurine was a typical Harrison Fisher girl and that the artist would find in her the type of beauty which is best expressed in his work. We have not, however, sought to have Maurine brought forward, as we do not care for publicity.

"However, since the matter has already received publicity in the local newspapers, there can be no harm in stating that Maurine will leave for New York as soon as she serves as bridesmaid for a friend, and that she will pose for Mr. Fisher. She will also prosecute her own art studies, in which she is intensely interested, and in which she has been succssful."
January 22, 1911, New York Times; Content as originally written; contains ocr errors, Webmaster.

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