Monday, 30 March 2015

J. C. Leyendecker - part 1

 J. C. Leyendecker in 1895
Joseph Christian Leyendecker (1874 – 1951) was one of the pre-eminent American illustrators of the early 20th century. He is best known for his poster, book and advertising illustrations, the trade character known as The Arrow Collar Man, and his numerous covers for The Saturday Evening Post.

Between 1896 and 1950 Leyendecker illustrated more than 400 magazine covers including 322 for The Saturday Evening Post, as well as many advertisement illustrations for its interior pages. No other artist, until the arrival of Norman Rockwell two decades later, was so solidly identified with one publication.

Leyendecker was born in 1874 in Montabaur, Germany. The family moved to Chicago in 1882. After working in late adolescence for an engraving firm in Chicago, and completing his first commercial commission of 60 Bible illustrations for the Powers Brother Company, he sought formal artistic training at the Chicago Art Institute.

After studying drawing and anatomy under John H. Vanderpoel at the Institute, Joseph and his younger brother, Frank Xavier Leyendecker, enrolled at the Académie Julian in Paris for a year, where they were exposed to the work of Toulouse Lautrec, Jules Chéret and Alphonse Mucha. The brothers returned to America in 1899 and set up residence in Hyde Park, Illinois, and had a studio in Chicago. That year Joseph received his first commission for The Saturday Evening Post, beginning his four –year association.

The brothers moved to New York in 1900 and during the next decade the brothers began lucrative long-term relationships with apparel manufacturers including Interwoven Socks, Kuppenheimer & Co., and Cluett Peabody and Co.

The Flapper by F X Leyendecker

Artwork by F X Leyendecker for The Flapper

The latter resulted in Joseph Leyendecker’s most important commission when he was hired to develop a series of images for Arrow brand shirt collars. Leyendecker often used his favourite model and partner, Charles Beach.

Charles Beach by J C Leyendecker

 In 1914 the Leyendeckers and Charles Beach moved into a large home and studio in New Rochelle, New York, where J.C. would remain for the rest of his life. 


J C Leyender's home in New Rochelle, New York photo: public domain

During World War 1 Leyendecker produced recruitment posters for the United States military. The 1920s saw Leyendecker at the peak of his career, with some of his most recognisable work completed during this period, and he himself became recognised as being among America’s pre-eminent commercial artists. (Frank Leyendecker died in 1924).

The 1930s saw a decline in Leyendecker’s popularity, (the shirt, tie and collar industry had seriously declined after 1921), and the Wall Street Crash of 1929 also contributed to Leyendecker’s fall in commissions. His last cover for The Saturday Evening Post was January 2, 1943. 

J C Leyendecker's last Saturday Evening Post cover
Leyendecker died at his estate in New Rochelle in 1951. Charles Beach died a few months later.


Leyendecker's monument
Biographical notes adapted form WiKipedia, with thanks.


 This is part 1 of a 10-part series on the works of J. C. Leyendecker:


n.d. At Tea gouache on cardboard with light tan paper facing 34.6 x 35.6 cm Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York

n.d. Man Standing graphite on green wove paper 31.8 x 23.7 c, Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York

n.d. Seated Woman black watercolour, white gouache and graphite on blue-grey wove paper 18.1 x 23.5 cm Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York

1818 Collier's magazine 5 January 1918

1896 The Century August, Midsummer Holiday Number commercial lithography in yellow, green, red, and gold 

1897 "A Mon Ami…"

1900 Success Magazine Christmas Number 1900

1900 Success Magazine Christmas Number 1906

1903 The Saturday Evening Post. 16 May 1903

1904 "Christmas" The Saturday Evening Post. December 3 1904

1904 "Christmas" The Saturday Evening Post. December 3 1904

1904 "Couple on Deckchairs" Collier's magazine cover 18 June 1904 tempera on board

1904 Charging Japanese Soldiers

1904 The Club-Fellow & Washington Mirror

1904 The Garden Walk

1905 "Easter" The Saturday Evening Post. April 22 1905

1905 Christmas Dinner

1905 Success Magazine February 1905

1905 Success Magazine December 1905


1906 "Cuchulain" The Century Magazine January 1907

1906 "Easter" The Saturday Evening Post. April 7 1906 1 oil on canvas 50.8 x 50.8 cm

1906 "Easter" The Saturday Evening Post. April 7 1906 2

1906 "Queen Maeve" The Century Magazine January 1907


1906 "The Crimson Conquest" by Charles Bradford Hudson cover illustration

1906 Ridolfo and Gismonda

1906 The Saturday Evening Post. June 2 1906

1907 "Christmas" The Saturday Evening Post. December 7 1907

1907 "Thanksgiving" The Saturday Evening Post. November 23 1907

1907 "The Speed God" Collier's magazine. January 19 1907

1907 "Vacation" Collier's magazine cover illustration. Oil on canvas @ American Illustrators Gallery, New York

1907 Arrow Collars and Cluett Shirts artwork

1907 Arrow Collars and Cluett Shirts advertisement

1907 Collier's' magazine 26 October 1907 artwork


1907 Collier's' magazine 26 October 1907

1907 Cuchulain In Battle

1907 Harvard Crew Team advertisement for Howard Watch Company oil on canvas 76.2 x 55.9 cm

1907 Success Magazine. March 1907

1907 The Saturday Evening Post. October 5 1907

1907 The Saturday Evening Post. July 6 1907 artwork

1907 The Saturday Evening Post. July 6 1907

1908 "February 29" The Saturday Evening Post. February 29 1908

1908 "Independence Day" The Saturday Evening Post. July 4 1908 artwork

1908 "Independence Day" The Saturday Evening Post. July 4 1908

1908 Collier's magazine

1908 The Punter

1908 The Saturday Evening Post. April 11 1908

1908 The Saturday Evening Post. December 19 1908

1908 The Saturday Evening Post. December 26 1908

1909 "1910" The Saturday Evening Post. January 1 1910 artwork

1909 "1910" The Saturday Evening Post. January 1 1910

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