Anton Otto Fischer was born in  Munich, Germany, on February 23, 1882. He was orphaned at an early age and reared in an orphanage. At the age of fifteen he  ran away when he was forced to study for the priesthood and became  a printer’s devil. He soon left this job and ran away to sea.

Fischer was at sea for eight  years, except for a fourteen-month period in 1905-06 when he worked for A.B. Frost, a well-known  artist, as a model and general handyman. This experience prompted  Fischer to take up the study of art seriously, and in October  of 1906 he went to Paris to study at the Académie Julian  under Jean Paul Laurens. He studied there for two years, spending his summers painting landscapes in Normandy.

Fischer returned to the United  States in January 1908 to take up illustration and landscape painting. Attracted by the fame of Howard  Pyle, he came to Wilmington from New York City in 1908 and  established a studio at 1110 Franklin Street. He freelanced in  “subject pictures” ­ paintings telling a human  interest story. Subject pictures were very popular in this era  and were used for magazine covers as well as full and double  spread illustrations.

In 1910, Fischer moved back to  New York and received his big break: he was asked to illustrate  a story by Jack London in Everybody’s Magazine. He continued  to illustrate many of London’s magazine stories and books until  London’s death in 1916. By 1912 he was in great demand as an illustrator. From 1909 to 1920 he produced more than one thousand  illustrations covering a variety of subjects: pretty girls, women  and babies, dogs and horses, the tropics, the far North, the  West, city and country life, the Navy, the sports world, and  the sea.

Fischer returned to Wilmington  briefly in 1932 but soon moved back to New York. With his wife, an artist in her own right, and his daughter, Fischer moved to  Woodstock, New York, in 1938, where he continued to produce illustrations  but also began working on oil paintings for his book Foc’s’le  Days. In 1942 he was asked to serve as official war artist  by the Coast Guard. Fischer cruised with the United States Coast  Guard cutter Campbell in the winter of 1943 and noted  much material which he incorporated into his paintings. These  paintings were exhibited at the Corcoran Gallery in Washington,  D.C., in November 1943.

Fischer continued to do magazine  illustrations through the fifties but began to prefer commissions from private individuals for landscapes and marine scenes. On  March 26, 1962, he died just before beginning work on a commissioned  historical battle painting.

Fischer was extremely prolific  in a variety of subjects but is remembered most for his superb marine paintings. He was known for his technical accuracy, strong,  tight compositions, and masterful portrayal of men’s emotions.  Like many illustrators, Fischer used photographs to check positions,  lighting, and the way clothes creased, for his illustrations.

References: Fischer; Sunday  Star (Wilmington), Jan. 9, 1910; DAM files