Like many prominent Post cover artists, Anton Otto Fischer, noted for his stunning seascapes, did work between the magazine’s covers as well. Fischer illustrated well over 400 stories for the Post. So associated is he with resplendent masted ships and sailboats on choppy waves (where the observer can almost taste the salt air), one tends to forget he painted characters as well as sea scenes for the Cappy Ricks stories beginning in 1915, the Mr. Glencannon series beginning in 1930, and Tugboat Annie, 1931. He confessed his favorite character was “that old reprobate Glencannon,” with the big broom moustache.
U.S. Navy Commander Lincoln Lothrop had once written to the artist: “My two lads, one of whom is now a twenty-two-year-old lieutenant in the Navy … used to cut out your pictures and pin them on the walls of their rooms. … You are responsible for recruiting many a seagoing lad.” They must have been brave lads, for Fischer’s paintings not only depicted the majestic beauty of the oceans, but the terrors they held as well.
Fischer was invited to lunch one day by none other than Vice Admiral Russell Waesche, Commandant of the Coast Guard for the purpose of recruiting. The January 9, 1943, Post describes it thus: “Did the admiral know that he was an anti-New Dealer? The admiral didn’t know—or care. But did the admiral know that he was born in Germany? Oh, yes, the admiral knew that, all right; his record had been checked.
“That record included, among other things, the fact that young Fischer had come to America as a deck hand on a German vessel, that he sacrificed two months’ pay to obtain his freedom, and then sailed on American ships for three years.”
By late that same afternoon, Fischer was sworn in as a lieutenant commander in the Coast Guard. “His duties? Putting on canvas some of the heroic deeds of our Merchant Mariners and Coast Guardsmen—the least-publicized men, perhaps, in all of our armed forces.”
This called for a wartime sacrifice at The Saturday Evening Post. Concluded the 1943 story, “and that is why Fischer’s glorious living seascapes will be out of the Post for the duration.”
Also known for illustrating books such as Moby Dick, Treasure Island, and 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea, Anton Otto Fischer died far from his beloved coastlines in the Catskill Mountains of Woodstock, New York, in 1962 at the age of 70.
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