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Classic Covers: Harrison Fisher

Published: March 29, 2012

Harrison Fisher (right) in a November 1909 issue of the Post.

Harrison Fisher (right) in a November 1909 issue of the Post.

Harrison Fisher was known as “Father of a Thousand Girls” for his paintings of beautiful women. He was also the father of over eighty covers for The Saturday Evening Post.

Harrison Fisher (1875-1934) was the son and grandson of artists, and by the time he was six, his father was teaching him about art.

Fisher became a newspaper illustrator while he was still in his teenage years. In the days before photography was commonplace, newspapers depicted current events and stories in black and white sketches. Soon, however, it was clear that paintings of beautiful women were his forté and he found his ladies described as successors to the Gibson Girls.

Much like the Gibson Girls, the Fisher Girls were the epitome of the All-American beauty with hourglass figures, delicate facial features and rich, lustrous hair. If you could see any of this beyond those hats, that is.

Being a Fisher model was the hot job. Fisher’s models ran in high society circles, motoring with millionaires and staying at luxury mansions. But one model was especially interesting.

Big Black Hat by Harrison Fisher from June 29, 1912

‘Big Black Hat’
June 29, 1912

Her name was Dorothy Gibson. Her story begins with a brief career as a vaudeville singer and dancer before she became Harrison Fisher’s favorite model. She was also a survivor from the Titanic.

It is said that publisher William Randolph, with his newspapers and magazines like Cosmopolitan, tried to keep Fisher so busy he couldn’t work for other publications.

Indeed, Fisher illustrated most Cosmopolitan covers–nearly 300–between 1913 and his death in 1934. It was Cosmo that gave him the nickname “Father of a Thousand Girls.”

In fact, Fisher was reported in some sources to have had an exclusive contract with Cosmopolitan magazine, which is either inaccurate, or the artist found a way around it, as he did over 80 covers for The Saturday Evening Post between 1900 and 1915.

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  • Bob McGowan

    Stating the lady is in an oversized hat is putting it mildly! Regardless, she seems Gaga with it and that’s all that matters, right?

    Turbans on women are generally sexy (like Lana Turner’s), but in this case, not so much. Still a great Fisher cover.

    ‘Woman in Hat’ is probably the most normal (for a 1911 era lady) to wear. Great cover.

    In “Big Black Hat” the hat is bigger than she is. I’m looking forward to reading more about Ms. Gibson—especially with the 100th anniversary of the Titanic sinking this month!

    ‘Coffee and Conversation’ is very simple yet complicated cover at the same time. I absolutely COULD picture Lady Gaga PROUDLY wearing this hat. Oh yeah. No question about it.

    ‘Woman in Turban’ is a great cover. It’s more Gaga than Turner, but that’s just how it is. You may never see these two women mentioned together anywhere else. Yeah, it’s pretty unlikely.