A little over six weeks ago my family and I moved. After seventeen years at the same residence, the move was a culmination of a three-year project to completely remodel my husband’s grandparent’s farmhouse. Our “new” home will actually be celebrating its ninety-first birthday in 2018. To commemorate the occasion, this year we hosted the Ashburn Family Christmas. It was a special time, not only because of the holiday itself but also because the celebration returned to the home following a fifty-year absence. To make it even more special, my husband’s Aunt Louise, who grew up in the home, spent the night with us. It was her first time doing so since that long-ago time.
Christmas night we stayed up late reminiscing with Aunt Louise about the Ashburn Family history. The farm where we live, for example, has been in continuous operation by the same family for well over one hundred years. One of the items on my personal “To Do” list is to get it officially certified as a Century Farm.
In any event, you may be asking yourself what does all this have to do with horses? I’m getting to that. Aunt Louise herself will be reaching her ninetieth birthday milestone in 2018. Understandably, this has left her feeling quite nostalgic. When my husband took her back home the day after Christmas she sent back with him a number of family artifacts.
Each of the items she sent back will earn a spot somewhere in our home but right away there was one thing in particular that drew me to it. Inside a foot locker that came with its own storied past was a plethora of magazines and newspapers some of which commemorated historic events in history. However, just as special to me, was a copy of a 1904 “Ladies Home Journal.” Now we get to the “horsey” part. The front cover featured an English hunt scene with a woman riding sidesaddle. My first thought was to frame it.
Beneath the drawing, in small print, was the artist’s name. A quick Google search revealed quite a lot of interesting facts about Harrison Fisher. Mr. Fisher was considered an important artist during the fifteen-year period from 1905 to 1920. He must have been early in his career when this particular drawing was created.
Various internet sources state that he was born in 1875 and died in 1934. Born in New York City, he spent an unhealthy childhood growing up in California before later returning to New York. He made the most of his family background in the arts completing his education in this field. Afterward, he worked as an illustrator for various publications.
Mr. Fisher was an admirer of women and in particular his drawings of women led to his acclaim. Many of them were of his version of the ideal woman and thus included women engaged in various outdoor activities and sports such as horseback riding. My curiosity piqued, I found while completing my research that he created a number of other beautiful hunt scenes along with other charming illustrations. Despite his admiration for women he died a bachelor.
The story doesn’t end here. Aunt Louise didn’t just stop with the magazine and newspapers. She also sent back a couple of gorgeous Victorian wall plaques. One of these also featured an equestrian scene with a gentleman on horseback accompanied by a young lady on the ground by his side. Both of these treasures will be lovingly displayed in my home. Each time I look at them I will not only be reminded of their connection to my family but also their connection to the larger world.