One of the most prolific and sought-after artists of the Golden Age of American Illustration, Joseph Christian (J.C.) Leyendecker captivated the public with his striking images and fashionable depictions of handsome men and glamorous women. With his instantly identifiable style—“The Leyendecker Look”—he helped shape the image of a nation, created dozens of enduring icons, and created some of the earliest national advertising brands. Leyendecker was talented at self-promotion and quickly established an easily identifiable style. His approach to his own career influenced an entire generation of younger artists, most notably Norman Rockwell, who began his own career by specifically emulating Leyendecker.
Born in 1874 in Montabaur, Germany, J.C. immigrated to Chicago in 1882 with his parents and three siblings. Showing an early artistic talent, J.C. and his youngest brother studied at the Art Institute of Chicago before moving to Paris where they developed their distinctive styles. Upon returning to the United States, the brothers entered a publishing renaissance and soon found themselves at its center, New York City. In 1914, they moved into a fourteen-room house in New Rochelle, New York, along with Charles Beach, a model who would become J.C.’s muse and domestic partner for forty-eight years.
At the turn of the century, illustrators could disseminate original artworks on a national scale for the first time. As publishing technologies advanced to include images, and later colors, the methods of transportation and communication accelerated, allowing publications to be circulated to millions of Americans on a weekly basis. This change revolutionized the way Americans consumed media, from printed text to vibrant representations of the modern world in mastheads, highly illustrated novels, and store windows. It was America’s Golden Age of Illustration.
Reynolda is the debut venue for this exhibition showcasing J.C. Leyendecker’s five-decade career. The exhibition will be presented in English and Spanish.
Leyendecker and the Golden Age of American Illustration se presentará en inglés y en español.
Image: J.C. Leyendecker, Couple in Boat, oil on canvas, 1922. © 2019 National Museum of American Illustration, Newport, RI. Photo courtesy American Illustrators Gallery, New York, NY.