J. C. Leyendecker bigraphy, stories - Painter

J. C. Leyendecker : biography

March 23, 1874 - July 25, 1951

Joseph Christian Leyendecker (March 23, 1874 – July 25, 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 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 two decades later, was so solidly identified with one publication. Leyendecker "virtually invented the whole idea of modern magazine design."

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.Segal, Eric Jefferson. "Realizing Whiteness in U.S. Visual Culture: The Popular Illustration of J.C. Leyendecker, Norman Rockwell, and the Saturday Evening Post, 1917-1945." PhD Dissertation, University of California Los Angeles, 2002. 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's declaration of Mother's Day as an official holiday that year.

Leyendecker was a chief influence upon, and friend of, Norman Rockwell, 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, 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, a first person shooter game for the PC, Xbox 360, and PlayStation 3.Francke, Moby. Team Fortress 2 tc_hydro Developer Commentary, node 14.

Notable clients

  • Amoco
  • Boy Scouts of America
  • Chesterfield Cigarettes
  • Cluett Peabody & Company
  • Collier's Weekly
  • Cooper Underwear
  • Cream of Wheat
  • Curtis Publishing Company
  • Franklin Automobile
  • Hart Schaffner & Marx
  • Ivory Soap
  • Kellogg Company
  • Kuppenheimer
  • Overland Automobile
  • Palmolive Soap
  • Pierce Arrow Automobile
  • Procter & Gamble
  • The Century Company
  • The Timken Company
  • U.S. Army
  • U.S. Marines
  • U.S. Navy
  • Willys-Overland Company

Early life

Joseph Christian Leyendecker ('J. C.' or 'Joe') was born on March 23, 1874, in Montabaur, Germany, 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. 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.

Living octopus

Living octopus

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