DescriptionJOSEPH CHRISTIAN LEYENDECKER (American, 1874-1951)
Harvard Crew Team, Howard Watch Company advertisement, circa 1907
Oil on canvas
30 x 22 in.
This is one Leyendecker's finest paintings from the period to ever be offered at auction, incorporating all the stylistic and content elements one could hope for. The Howard Watch advertisement was published in Collier's magazine, 1909.
Judy Goffman Fine Art, New York (label verso).
The Brandywine Museum, Chadds Ford, Pennsylvania, "In Pursuit of Sport", September 12-November 22, 1987.
A tearsheet of the original advertisement is verso.
Wax lined canvas. Scattered areas of very faint craquelure in the white background area with comestic inpainting. Framed to an overall size of 36.5 x 28.75 inches.
Leyendecker, Joseph Christian:Born in Germany in 1874, Joseph Christian Leyendecker immigrated to the United States with his parents and younger brother Frank in 1882. The family settled down in Chicago, where Joseph’s mother’s uncle had founded a successful brewing company. There, he spent his adolescence working for an engraving firm, completing his first commercial commission of sixty Bible illustrations. Having both the financial and emotional support of his family, Leyendecker sought formal artistic training at the Chicago Art Institute, and he later studied at the Académie Julian in Paris with his brother, Frank, where he was exposed to the works of Toulouse-Lautrec, Chéret and Alphonse Mucha, a pioneer in the French Art Nouveau movement. Returning to Illinois in 1899, J.C. received his first commission for a Saturday Evening Post cover—the catalyst for what developed into his forty-four year relationship with the most popular magazine in the country. The collaboration would ultimately produce over 300 cover illustrations, many of which transformed household traditions and became iconic visual images, such as his New Year Baby series and his portrayal of Santa Claus as a fat jolly man in a big red suit. The custom of giving flowers as a gift on Mother’s Day even originated from Leyendecker’s May 30, 1915 Saturday Evening Post cover, which depicts a young bellhop with hyacinths. What made Leyendecker such a monumental artist, aside from his unrivaled draftsmanship, was his ability to draw upon common aspects of the era’s culture—from how men wore their suits to how they served their country—and turn them into a narrative that captivated his audience. Joseph Christian Leyendecker’s work so artfully captures the essence of his time, and yet his characters and compositions remain remarkably timeless.
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