J. C. Leyendecker

J. C. Leyendecker

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Joseph Christian Leyendecker (March 23, 1874 – July 25, 1951) was one of the pre-eminent American illustrator
Illustrator
An Illustrator is a narrative artist who specializes in enhancing writing by providing a visual representation that corresponds to the content of the associated text...

s 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
The Arrow Collar Man
The Arrow Collar Man was the name given to the various male models who appeared in advertisements for shirts and detachable shirt collars manufactured by Cluett Peabody & Company of Troy, New York...

, and his numerous covers for The Saturday Evening Post
The Saturday Evening Post
The Saturday Evening Post is a bimonthly American magazine. It was published weekly under this title from 1897 until 1969, and quarterly and then bimonthly from 1971.-History:...

.
Between 1896 and 1950, Leyendecker painted more than 400 magazine covers. During the Golden Age of American Illustration, for The Saturday Evening Post alone, J. C. Leyendecker produced 322 covers, as well as many advertisement illustrations for its interior pages. No other artist, until the arrival of Norman Rockwell
Norman Rockwell
Norman Percevel Rockwell was a 20th-century American painter and illustrator. His works enjoy a broad popular appeal in the United States for their reflection of American culture. Rockwell is most famous for the cover illustrations of everyday life scenarios he created for The Saturday Evening...

 two decades later, was so solidly identified with one publication. Leyendecker "virtually invented the whole idea of modern magazine design."

Early life & education


Joseph Christian Leyendecker ('J. C.' or 'Joe') was born on March 23, 1874, in Montabaur
Montabaur
Montabaur is a town and the district seat of the Westerwaldkreis in Rhineland-Palatinate, Germany. At the same time, it is also the administrative centre of the Verbandsgemeinde of Montabaur – a kind of collective municipality – to which 24 other communities belong...

, Germany
Germany
Germany , officially the Federal Republic of Germany , is a federal parliamentary republic in Europe. The country consists of 16 states while the capital and largest city is Berlin. Germany covers an area of 357,021 km2 and has a largely temperate seasonal climate...

, to Peter Leyendecker (1838–1916) and Elizabeth Oreseifen Leyendecker (1845–1905). He had three siblings: an older brother, Adolph A. Leyendecker (1869–1938); an older sister, Augusta Mary Leyendecker (1872–1957); and a younger brother, Frank Xavier Leyendecker (1876–1924).

In 1882, the Leyendecker family immigrated to Chicago, Illinois, where Elizabeth's uncle had founded the successful McAvoy Brewing Company
McAvoy Brewing Company
McAvoy Brewing Company was founded in 1865 as McAvoy & Bemis Brewing by John H. McAvoy and Henry V. Bemis in Chicago, Illinois. In 1889, the brewery was sold to the English-owned investment syndicate, the Chicago Breweries, Limited, leading the way for continued consolidation of Chicago's...

. After working in late adolescence for a Chicago engraving firm, J. Manz & Company, and completing his first commercial commission of 60 Bible illustrations for the Powers Brothers Company, J. C. sought formal artistic training at the school of the Chicago Art Institute.

After studying drawing and anatomy under John H. Vanderpoel
John Vanderpoel
John Henry Vanderpoel was a Dutch-American artist and teacher, best known as an instructor of figure drawing. His book The Human Figure, a standard art school resource featuring numerous of his drawings based on his teaching at the Art Institute of Chicago, was published in 1907.Born in the...

 at the Chicago Art Institute, J. C. and younger brother Frank enrolled in the Académie Julian
Académie Julian
The Académie Julian was an art school in Paris, France.Rodolphe Julian established the Académie Julian in 1868 at the Passage des Panoramas, as a private studio school for art students. The Académie Julian not only prepared students to the exams at the prestigious École des Beaux-Arts, but offered...

 in Paris for a year, where they were exposed to the work of Toulouse-Lautrec
Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec
Henri Marie Raymond de Toulouse-Lautrec-Monfa or simply Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec was a French painter, printmaker, draughtsman, and illustrator, whose immersion in the colourful and theatrical life of fin de siècle Paris yielded an œuvre of exciting, elegant and provocative images of the modern...

, Jules Chéret
Jules Chéret
Jules Chéret was a French painter and lithographer who became a master of Belle Époque poster art. He has been called the father of the modern poster. -Biography:...

, and also Alfons Mucha
Alfons Mucha
Alfons Maria Mucha , known in English as Alphonse Mucha, was a Czech Art Nouveau painter and decorative artist, known best for his distinct style. He produced many paintings, illustrations, advertisements, postcards, and designs.-Early years:...

, a leader in the French Art Nouveau
Art Nouveau
Art Nouveau is an international philosophy and style of art, architecture and applied art—especially the decorative arts—that were most popular during 1890–1910. The name "Art Nouveau" is French for "new art"...

 movement.

Career



In 1899, the Leyendecker brothers returned to America and set up residence in an apartment in Hyde Park, Illinois. They had a studio in Chicago's Fine Arts Building at 410 South Michigan Ave
Michigan Avenue (Chicago)
Michigan Avenue is a major north-south street in Chicago which runs at 100 east south of the Chicago River and at 132 East north of the river from 12628 south to 950 north in the Chicago street address system...

. On May 20 of that year, Joe received his first commission for a Saturday Evening Post cover – the beginning of his forty-four year association with the most popular magazine in the country. Ultimately he would produce 322 covers for the magazine, introducing many iconic visual images and traditions including the New Year's Baby, the pudgy red-garbed rendition of Santa Claus
Santa Claus
Santa Claus is a folklore figure in various cultures who distributes gifts to children, normally on Christmas Eve. Each name is a variation of Saint Nicholas, but refers to Santa Claus...

, flowers for Mother's Day
Mother's Day
Mother's Day is a celebration honoring mothers and celebrating motherhood, maternal bonds, and the influence of mothers in society. It is celebrated on various days in many parts of the world, yet most commonly in March, April, or May...

, and firecracker
Firecracker
A firecracker is a small explosive device primarily designed to produce a large amount of noise, especially in the form of a loud bang; any visual effect is incidental to this goal. They have fuses, and are wrapped in a heavy paper casing to contain the explosive compound...

s on the 4th of July
Independence Day (United States)
Independence Day, commonly known as the Fourth of July, is a federal holiday in the United States commemorating the adoption of the Declaration of Independence on July 4, 1776, declaring independence from the Kingdom of Great Britain...

.

In 1900, Joe, Frank, and their sister Mary moved to New York City
New York City
New York is the most populous city in the United States and the center of the New York Metropolitan Area, one of the most populous metropolitan areas in the world. New York exerts a significant impact upon global commerce, finance, media, art, fashion, research, technology, education, and...

, then the center of the US commercial art, advertising and publishing industries. During the next decade, both brothers began lucrative long-term working relationships with apparel manufactures including Interwoven Socks, Hartmarx
Hartmarx
Hart Schaffner Marx, founded in 1887 and incorporated in 1911, is an American manufacturer of tailored menswear. Its headquarters is at 101 North Wacker Drive, Chicago, Illinois. Hart Schaffner Marx is the flagship brand of HMX Group, a holding company that engages in the manufacture and marketing...

, B. Kuppenheimer & Co.
Kuppenheimer
B. Kuppenheimer & Co., or simply Kuppenheimer, was a mens clothing manufacturing and retail operation based in Chicago, Illinois and later Atlanta, Georgia.- History :...

, and Cluett Peabody & Company
Cluett Peabody & Company
Cluett Peabody & Company, Inc. once headquartered in Troy, New York was a longtime manufacturer of shirts, detachable shirt cuffs and collars, and related apparel. It is best known for its Arrow brand collars and shirts and the related Arrow Collar Man advertisements...

. The latter resulted in Leyendecker's most important commission when he was hired to develop a series of images of the Arrow brand of shirt collars. Leyendecker's Arrow Collar Man, as well as the images he later created for Kuppenheimer Suits and Interwoven Socks, came to define the fashionable American male during the early decades of the twentieth century. Leyendecker often used his favorite model and lover Charles Beach (1886–1952).

Another important commission for Leyendecker was from Kellogg's, the breakfast food manufacturer. As part of a major advertising campaign, he created a series of twenty "Kellogg's Kids" to promote Kellogg's Corn Flakes.

In 1914, the Leyendeckers, accompanied by Charles Beach, moved into a large home and art studio in New Rochelle, New York
New Rochelle, New York
New Rochelle is a city in Westchester County, New York, United States, in the southeastern portion of the state.The town was settled by refugee Huguenots in 1688 who were fleeing persecution in France...

, where J. C. would reside for the remainder of his life. During the first World War
World War I
World War I , which was predominantly called the World War or the Great War from its occurrence until 1939, and the First World War or World War I thereafter, was a major war centred in Europe that began on 28 July 1914 and lasted until 11 November 1918...

, in addition to his many commissions for magazine covers and men's fashion advertisements, J. C. also painted recruitment posters for the United States military and the war effort.

The 1920s were in many ways the apex of Leyendecker's career, with some of his most recognizable work being completed during this time. Modern advertising had come into its own, with Leyendecker widely regarded as among the pre-eminent American commercial art
Commercial art
Commercial art is historically a subsector of creative services, referring to art created for commercial purposes, primarily advertising. The term has become increasingly anachronistic in favor of more contemporary terms such as graphic design and advertising art.Commercial art traditionally...

ists. This popularity extended beyond the commercial, and into Leyendecker's personal life, where he and Charles Beach hosted large galas attended by people of consequence from all sectors. The parties they hosted at their New Rochelle home/studio were important social and celebrity making events.
As the 1920s marked the apex of J. C. Leyendecker's career, so the 1930s marked the beginning of its decline. Around 1930-31, Cluett, Peabody, & Co. ceased using Leyendecker's illustrations in its advertisements, now for shirts and ties as the collar industry seriously declined after 1921. During this time, the always shy Leyendecker became more and more reclusive, rarely speaking with people outside of his sister Mary Augusta and Charles (Frank had died in 1924 as a result of an addiction-riddled lifestyle). Perhaps in reaction to his almost all-pervasive widespread popularity in the previous decade, or as a result of the new economic reality following the Wall Street Crash of 1929
Wall Street Crash of 1929
The Wall Street Crash of 1929 , also known as the Great Crash, and the Stock Market Crash of 1929, was the most devastating stock market crash in the history of the United States, taking into consideration the full extent and duration of its fallout...

, the number of commissions Leyendecker received steadily declined. In 1936, the editor at the Saturday Evening Post for all of Leyendecker's career up to that point, George Horace Lorimer, retired, and was replaced by Wesley Winans Stout (1937–1942) and then Ben Hibbs (1942–1962), both of whom rarely commissioned Leyendecker to illustrate covers.

Leyendecker's last cover for the Saturday Evening Post was of a New Year Baby for January 2, 1943, thus ending the artist's most lucrative and celebrated string of commissions. New commissions continued to filter in, but slowly. Among the most prominent were posters for the United States Department of War
United States Department of War
The United States Department of War, also called the War Department , was the United States Cabinet department originally responsible for the operation and maintenance of the United States Army...

, in which Leyendecker depicted commanding officers of the armed forces encouraging the purchases of bonds
War bond
War bonds are debt securities issued by a government for the purpose of financing military operations during times of war. War bonds generate capital for the government and make civilians feel involved in their national militaries...

 to support the nation's efforts in World War II
World War II
World War II, or the Second World War , was a global conflict lasting from 1939 to 1945, involving most of the world's nations—including all of the great powers—eventually forming two opposing military alliances: the Allies and the Axis...

. Leyendecker died on July 25, 1951, at his estate in New Rochelle of an acute coronary occlusion
Coronary occlusion
A coronary occlusion is the partial or complete obstruction of blood flow in a coronary artery. This condition may cause a heart attack.In some patients coronary occlusion causes only mild pain, tightness or vague discomfort which may be ignored: the myocardium is however damaged....

.

Personal life


Many biographers have speculated on J. C. Leyendecker's sexuality, often attributing the apparent homoerotic aesthetic of his work to a homosexual identity. Without question, Leyendecker excelled at depicting male homosocial spaces (locker rooms, clubhouses, tailoring shops) and extraordinarily handsome young men in curious poses or exchanging illicit glances. Moreover, Leyendecker never married and lived with another man, Charles Beach, for much of his adult life, who is assumed to have been his lover and the original model of the Arrow Collar Man.

While Beach often organized the famous gala-like social gatherings that Leyendecker was known for in the 1920s, he apparently also contributed largely to Leyendecker's social isolation in his later years. Beach reportedly forbade outside contact with the artist in the last months of his life.

Due to his fame as an illustrator, Leyendecker was able to indulge in a very luxurious lifestyle which in many ways embodied the decadence of the Roaring Twenties
Roaring Twenties
The Roaring Twenties is a phrase used to describe the 1920s, principally in North America, but also in London, Berlin and Paris for a period of sustained economic prosperity. The phrase was meant to emphasize the period's social, artistic, and cultural dynamism...

. However, when commissions began to wane in the 1930s, he was forced to curtail spending considerably. By the time of his death, Leyendecker had let all of the household staff at his New Rochelle estate go, with he and Beach attempting to maintain the extensive estate themselves. Leyendecker left a tidy estate equally split between his sister and Beach. Leyendecker is buried alongside parents and brother Frank at Woodlawn Cemetery
Woodlawn Cemetery, Bronx
Woodlawn Cemetery is one of the largest cemeteries in New York City and is a designated National Historic Landmark.A rural cemetery located in the Bronx, it opened in 1863, in what was then southern Westchester County, in an area that was annexed to New York City in 1874.The cemetery covers more...

 in Bronx, New York. Charles Beach's burial location is unknown.

Body of work



Leyendecker's influence


As the premier cover illustrator for the enormously popular Saturday Evening Post for much of the first half of the 20th century, Leyendecker's work both reflected and helped mold many of the visual aspects of the era's culture in America. The mainstream image of Santa Claus as a jolly fat man in a red fur-trimmed coat was popularized by Leyendecker, as was the image of the New Year Baby. The tradition of giving flowers as a gift on Mother's Day was started by Leyendecker's May 30, 1914 Saturday Evening Post cover depicting a young bellhop carrying hyacinths. It was created as a commemoration of President Woodrow Wilson
Woodrow Wilson
Thomas Woodrow Wilson was the 28th President of the United States, from 1913 to 1921. A leader of the Progressive Movement, he served as President of Princeton University from 1902 to 1910, and then as the Governor of New Jersey from 1911 to 1913...

's declaration of Mother's Day as an official holiday that year.

Leyendecker was a chief influence upon, and friend of, Norman Rockwell
Norman Rockwell
Norman Percevel Rockwell was a 20th-century American painter and illustrator. His works enjoy a broad popular appeal in the United States for their reflection of American culture. Rockwell is most famous for the cover illustrations of everyday life scenarios he created for The Saturday Evening...

, who was a pallbearer at Leyendecker's funeral. In particular, the early work of Norman Rockwell for the Saturday Evening Post bears a strong superficial resemblance to that of Leyendecker. While today it is generally accepted that Norman Rockwell established the best-known visual images of Americana, in many cases they are derivative of Leyendecker's work, or reinterpretations of visual themes established by Rockwell's idol.

The visual style of Leyendecker's art inspired the graphics in The Dagger of Amon Ra
The Dagger of Amon Ra
Roberta Williams' Laura Bow in: The Dagger of Amon Ra is a computer game published by Sierra On-Line in 1992. The game is the second and final installment in the Laura Bow Mysteries line of adventure games, the first of which was The Colonel's Bequest...

, a game for the PC. The museum in the game is named for Leyendecker, and the box art for the game is based on Leyendecker's cover for the March 18, 1905 issue of the Saturday Evening Post.

Leyendecker's drawing style was cited as a major influence on the character designs of Team Fortress 2
Team Fortress 2
Team Fortress 2 is a free-to-play team-based first-person shooter multiplayer video game developed by Valve Corporation. A sequel to the original mod Team Fortress based on the Quake engine, it was first released as part of the video game compilation The Orange Box on October 10, 2007 for Windows...

, a first person shooter game for the PC
Personal computer
A personal computer is any general-purpose computer whose size, capabilities, and original sales price make it useful for individuals, and which is intended to be operated directly by an end-user with no intervening computer operator...

, Xbox 360
Xbox 360
The Xbox 360 is the second video game console produced by Microsoft and the successor to the Xbox. The Xbox 360 competes with Sony's PlayStation 3 and Nintendo's Wii as part of the seventh generation of video game consoles...

, and PlayStation 3
PlayStation 3
The is the third home video game console produced by Sony Computer Entertainment and the successor to the PlayStation 2 as part of the PlayStation series. The PlayStation 3 competes with Microsoft's Xbox 360 and Nintendo's Wii as part of the seventh generation of video game consoles...

.

Notable clients


  • Amoco
    Amoco
    Amoco Corporation, originally Standard Oil Company , was a global chemical and oil company, founded in 1889 around a refinery located in Whiting, Indiana, United States....

  • Boy Scouts of America
    Boy Scouts of America
    The Boy Scouts of America is one of the largest youth organizations in the United States, with over 4.5 million youth members in its age-related divisions...

  • Chesterfield Cigarettes
    Chesterfield (cigarette)
    Chesterfield is a brand of cigarette made by Altria. It was one of the most recognized brands of the early 20th century, but sales have declined steadily over the years. It was named for Chesterfield County, Virginia. Chesterfield is still being made today; it is still popular in Europe, but has...

  • Cluett Peabody & Company
    Cluett Peabody & Company
    Cluett Peabody & Company, Inc. once headquartered in Troy, New York was a longtime manufacturer of shirts, detachable shirt cuffs and collars, and related apparel. It is best known for its Arrow brand collars and shirts and the related Arrow Collar Man advertisements...

  • Collier's Weekly
    Collier's Weekly
    Collier's Weekly was an American magazine founded by Peter Fenelon Collier and published from 1888 to 1957. With the passage of decades, the title was shortened to Collier's....

  • Cooper Underwear
  • Cream of Wheat
    Cream of Wheat
    Cream of Wheat is a porridge-type breakfast food invented in 1893 by wheat millers in Grand Forks, North Dakota. The cereal is currently manufactured and sold by B&G Foods. Until 2007, it was the Nabisco brand made by Kraft Foods. It is similar in texture to grits, but made with farina instead...

  • Curtis Publishing Company
    Curtis Publishing Company
    The Curtis Publishing Company, founded in 1891 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, became one of the largest and most influential publishers in the United States during the early 20th century. The company's publications included the Ladies' Home Journal and The Saturday Evening Post, The American Home,...

  • Franklin Automobile
    Franklin (automobile)
    The Franklin Automobile Company was a manufacturer of automobiles in the United States between 1902 and 1934 in Syracuse, New York. Herbert H. Franklin, the founder, began his career in the metal die casting business before establishing his automobile enterprise.Franklin founded the H. H. Franklin...

  • Hart Schaffner & Marx
  • Ivory Soap
  • Kellogg Company
    Kellogg Company
    Kellogg Company , is a producer of cereal and convenience foods, including cookies, crackers, toaster pastries, cereal bars, fruit-flavored snacks, frozen waffles, and vegetarian foods...

  • Kuppenheimer
    Kuppenheimer
    B. Kuppenheimer & Co., or simply Kuppenheimer, was a mens clothing manufacturing and retail operation based in Chicago, Illinois and later Atlanta, Georgia.- History :...

  • Overland Automobile
    Overland Automobile
    -History:The Overland Automobile "runabout" was founded by Claude Cox, a graduate of Rose Polytechnic Institute, while he was employed by Standard Wheel Company of Terre Haute, Indiana, USA, in 1903. In 1905, Standard Wheel allowed Cox to relocate the Overland Automobile Company to Indianapolis,...

  • Palmolive Soap
    Colgate-Palmolive
    Colgate-Palmolive Company is an American diversified multinational corporation focused on the production, distribution and provision of household, health care and personal products, such as soaps, detergents, and oral hygiene products . Under its "Hill's" brand, it is also a manufacturer of...

  • Pierce Arrow Automobile
    Pierce-Arrow
    Pierce-Arrow was an American automobile manufacturer based in Buffalo, New York, which was active from 1901-1938. Although best known for its expensive luxury cars, Pierce-Arrow also manufactured commercial trucks, fire trucks, camp trailers, motorcycles, and bicycles.-Early history:The forerunner...

  • Procter & Gamble
    Procter & Gamble
    Procter & Gamble is a Fortune 500 American multinational corporation headquartered in downtown Cincinnati, Ohio and manufactures a wide range of consumer goods....

  • The Century Company
    The Century Company
    The Century Company was an American publishing company, founded in 1881.It was originally a subsidiary of Charles Scribner's Sons, but was bought and renamed. The magazine it had published up to that time, Scribners Monthly, was renamed The Century Illustrated Monthly Magazine.The Century Company...

  • The Timken Company
  • U.S. Army
  • U.S. Marines
  • U.S. Navy
  • Willys-Overland Company
    Willys
    Willys was the brand name used by Willys-Overland Motors, an American automobile company best known for its design and production of military Jeeps and civilian versions during the 20th century.-Early History:In 1908, John Willys bought the Overland Automotive Division of Standard Wheel Company...



External links