Biography: Born in Munich, Anton Otto Fischer was a sailor for 8 years in his young adulthood, after fleeing a German orphanage, an enforced time in a seminary, and a job as a printer's assistant. While not at sea for 14 months in1905-06, he worked for American artist/illustrator A. B. Frost as a model and factotum. This experience prompted his 1906-1908 art study in Paris and Normandy. He returned to the U.S. in 1908 and established a studio in Wilmington in order to study with Howard Pyle. While there he free-lanced, supplying genre and human interest scenes to magazines for covers and illustrations not connected to texts. In 1910, he returned to New York and received a major commission: Everybody's Magazine hired him to illustrate a story by Jack London. He illustrated several of London's works until the author's death in 1916.
Fischer was a popular illustrator, producing over one thousand works between 1912 and 1920. His subjects were diverse: the "pretty girl" (ubiquitous at the time), domestic and animal scenes, travel literature, Western adventures, sports, the military, and the sea. He was particularly known for his marine works. Besides his many covers for The Saturday Evening Post, some of his best known story illustrations were for that magazine's Tugboat Annie tales by Norman Reilly Raine
He returned to Wilmington briefly in 1932 but soon moved back to New York. With his wife, illustrator Mary Sigsbee (Ker) (Fischer), and daughter, he moved to Woodstock, NY, in 1938. He continued his commercial illustration and also created oil paintings for his book Old Foc's'le Days. In 1942, commissioned as Lieutenant Commander/Artist Laureate, he served as an official war artist for the Coast Guard, cruising with the cutter Campbell. The resulting paintings were published by Life magazine and then exhibited at the Corcoran Gallery (Washington DC) in late 1943. Fischer remained active through the 1950s, often concentrating on landscape and marine scenes for private commissions.
Fischer died in 1962, as he was beginning work on a commissioned historical battle painting.
A Small School of Art. Rowland Elzea and Elizabeth H. Hawkes, editors. Delaware Art Museum. 1980.