Illustration Hero: J.C. Leyendecker

It amazes me that I could of missed someone like J.C. Leyendecker (1874-1951) when I was in art school. (I'm sure some of my teachers must of mentioned him but I was probably daydreaming of other things)  His work is so incredible! But now that I have found him and have so much reference at my fingertips, I have no excuse not to study what he did.

His work is so detailed, and his colors are so rich. The lines and shadow work are pretty much perfect. Each of his characters are so fluid in their movement and so, so beautiful. As an illustrator, he was known for his advertising for Arrow Shirt Collars, The Saturday Evening Post (he did over 300 covers for them), Kuppenheimer's Good Clothing, illustrations for Interwoven Socks ads among many others.

Another really interesting aspect of J.C. is that he was gay. And although he was never out of the closet  during his lifetime, his illustrations contain a lot of homoerotic aspects. I love looking at all the connections between all the male characters in his paintings. In retrospect, Leyendecker is pretty damn brave to create the worlds that he did. So many of his images seem really contemporary now. It is also really fun to notice that his partner, the lovely Charles Beach, is the model for so much of his work.  Wouldn't that be a sweet tribute to the love of your life?

Here are a of my few of my favorite illustrations by J.C. Leyendecker:

J.C. Leyendecker, Couple Reading on Deck Chairs, 1904,

J.C. Leyendecker, Ridolfo & Gismonda, 1906

J.C. Leyendecker, The Vacation, 1907

J.C. Leyendecker, Arrow Collar Shirts Advertisement,  1910

J.C. Leyendecker, Charles Beach (the love of J.C.'s life and the perfect model for his illustrations)

J.C. Leyendecker, Couple Descending Staircase, Arrow Collar Ad, c.1930

J.C. Leyendecker, Interwoven Socks Advertisement, c.1920's

J.C. Leyendecker, Arrow Collars 

J.C. Leyendecker, Cupid's Kiss, 1923

J.C. Leyendecker, Saturday Evening Post Cover, Lifeguard, Save Me!, 1924

J.C. Leyendecker, Golf or Tennis, 1910

J.C. Leyendecker, Arrow Collar Advertisement, 1929

J.C. Leyendecker, Kuppenheimer's Good Clothes, 1920

J.c Leyendecker, The Butterfly Couple, 1923

J.C. Leyendecker, War Victory for Saturday Evening Post, 1918

J.C. Leyendecker at work in his studio via HagginMuseum
What do you think of Leyendecker's work? Did I mention that his work was all created on large canvases and painted with oil paints? Pretty impressive don't you think. I would love to check one out up close. Wouldn't you?

I heard that George Lucas is opening an illustration museum in San Francisco in the next few years, hopefully he will have a few of Leyendecker's painting in his collection. Fingers crossed...