Joseph Christian Leyendecker Biography

JOSEPH CHRISTIAN LEYENDECKER (1874-1951) was born in Montabaur, Germany, and came to America at the age of eight. Showing an early interest in painting, he got his first job at 16 in a Chicago engraving house on the strength of some large pictures he had painted on kitchen oilcloth. In the evenings after work he studied under Vanderpoel at the Chicago Art Institute, and saved for five years to be able to go to France to attend the Academie Julian in Paris.

Upon his return, as a thoroughly trained artist with immense technical facility, Leyendecker had no difficulty in obtaining top commissions for advertising illustrations and cover designs for the leading publications. His first Saturday Evening Post cover was done in 1899, and he did well over 300 more during the next forty years. Among the most famous of these was the annual New Year Baby series.

His advertising illustrations made his clients famous. The Arrow Collar man was a byword for the debonair, handsome male, and women wrote thousands of love letters to him care of Cluett, Peabody & Company. His illustrations for Hart, Schaffner & Marx were equally successful in promoting an image of suited elegance. He was elected to the Society of Illustrators Hall of Fame in 1977.

[Text from Walt & Roger Reed, The Illustrator in America 1880-1980, Madison Square Press, 1984]

J.C. Leyendecker

J.C. Leyendecker, whose Arrow Collar ads and Saturday Evening Post covers made him an idol in America's Golden Age of Illustrations. His 322 Saturday Evening Post cover, painted between 1899 and 1943, set the style for the magazine and for the era. Prior to that he was a pioneer of modern lithographic printing, influenced by Lautrec and the Art Nouveaux designs of France. Among his works were Advertisements for Ivory Soap, Arrow Collar, Interwoven Socks, and Chesterfield Cigarettes; poster for magazines as well as recruitment poster for both world wars; and book and magazine illustrations.