William Mark Fisher

William Mark Fisher was born in Boston, MA in 1841. His family was poor, and he spent a good part of his childhood working. At the age of 14, he was apprenticed to his cousin – a sign and house painter – William Lawless. From this point on he began to study art – initially taking drawing classes during the winter months at the Lowell Institute.

By the age of 18 or 19, he was working as a portrait painter, and he had the good fortune of meeting George Cass, a student of the American landscape artist George Inness. Cass introduced Fisher to Inness, and he too began studying under the master. Fisher remarked that Inness found him to be “…a most promising youth and it was finally arranged I should go and stay with him as a pupil without fees.”

In 1863 Fisher met one of Inness’ patrons who proposed that he travel to Paris to continue his studies. He left for Paris and entered the atelier of Gleyre where met many other artists, including Sisley. After finishing his training, he returned to Boston and continued to paint, but his work, which had a more impressionist style to it, met with little success and he finally decide to leave for Europe again. By 1871 he was on his way, first landing in Brest and then moving on to Normandy.

In 1872, he left France and headed for England, where he would not only take up permanent residence, but also find great success. In Benjamin’s “Contemporary Art in Europe”, the author remarks that: “Mark Fisher, a Boston artist, who had to leave his native land in order to find the appreciation he deserves, has won a front rank in the landscape art of his adopted country, and seems to have no superior there in the interpretation of certain aspects of nature. Upon his arrival in England he took up residence in London, but soon found the countryside was more to his liking and moved to Sussex.”

By 1901 he was living in Hatfield Heath, where he would remain for the rest of his life. He was a frequent exhibitor at the Royal Academy – displaying his first work there in 1872 and continued to exhibit there until his death in 1923; showing more than 100 works (l). Fisher was elected A.R.A. in 1911 and a full member in 1919.

Among his exhibited paintings are: Noon (1872); Early Summer (1875); The Siesta (1877); Milking Time (1881); Early Summer – Sussex (1883); Environs of Algiers (1896); A Hampshire Village (1903); Ponds at Bexley (1906); Harlow Mill (1912); Cote d’azur (1913); White poplars: September (1915); Mont Canaille, Cassis (1917); and On the Shore at Emsworth (1921).

It is interesting to note that Fisher is considered one of the first artists to bring the Impressionist style to England and was noted by George Moore, in 1893, as being [England’s] greatest living landscape painter.

Fisher died on April 30, 1923.

This biography from the Archives of AskART

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