JOSEPH CHRISTIAN LEYENDECKER (American, 1874-1951). Honeymoon, The Saturday Evening Post cover, July 17, 1926. Oil on ca...
Honeymoon, The Saturday Evening Post cover, July 17, 1926
Oil on canvas
28.25 x 21.25 in.
Monogrammed lower right
The History of J.C. Leyendecker's Honeymoon, Saturday Evening Post cover, July 17, 1926. From The Intelligent Collector magazine (Winter 2012/2013).
In 1932, when Margery Acciardo's mother was married in the Boston area, the noted American illustrator Joseph Christian Leyendecker walked her down the aisle. "My grandfather had died when my mother was 12," says Acciardo, 76, a retired telephone company service representative. "He was in the advertising business and he and Leyendecker were business associates and friends. So Leyendecker did the honors of giving her away. He'd always remained a friend of the family."
Growing up, the bride was interested in art. "Leyendecker kind of pushed that with her," Acciardo says of her mother. "He'd bring her art supplies. They were close."
So it wasn't too much of a surprise when Leyendecker (1874-1951) gave Acciardo's mother a painting he'd completed for the July 17, 1926, cover of The Saturday Evening Post. It's an opulent piece showing a young maiden and her knight in shining armor on his lavishly bedecked steed. The golden banner across the bottom says, appropriately, "lune de miel" - a French phrase meaning "honeymoon."
"This is arguably the best example of a Leyendecker Saturday Evening Post cover to ever be offered at auction," says illustration art expert Ed Jaster of Heritage Auctions. "The subject matter is exquisite. Two lovers, reminiscent of Guinevere and Lancelot, mounted on a horse adorned with full tournament regalia, is simply a masterpiece."
Leyendecker was firmly established as a master illustrator by the early 1930s. He completed advertising illustrations for Boy Scouts of America, Cream of Wheat, Ivory Soap, and Cluett Peabody & Company, among others. And his art appeared on the covers of national magazines such as The Saturday Evening Post and Collier's.
His piece titled Honeymoon "was in my mother's house in Rhode Island for years and years and years," Acciardo says. "We knew it was a Leyendecker, but we really didn't think too much about it. Before my mother died in 2002, she gave it to me, and we had it hanging in our bedroom. We'd go off to Florida and leave it in the house with no insurance, no alarm ... nothing!"
When Acciardo's daughter decided to sell a smaller Leyendecker drawing the family owned, they finally discovered the high-dollar value of his oil paintings. When they contacted Heritage Auctions, they were told Honeymoon could fetch more than $100,000 at auction. "When I found out how valuable the painting was," Acciardo says, "I wanted to get it out of here! I didn't want the responsibility. It was part of my life. I was happy to have it. I loved it. But I didn't want the responsibility of having something that valuable around."
While parting with the Leyendecker piece, the family is happy to still have the art left behind by Acciardo's mother. "I love her stuff," Acciardo says. "I have her watercolors and oils, and I will always treasure them."
©2012 Heritage Auctioneers & Galleries Inc.
Condition Report*:Stretcher creases faintly visible wth associated linear craquelure; scattered faint carquelure in the white background area; UV examination reveals: scattered minor small points on in painting in white background area, most notable a 1-inch a 2-inch linear areas of in painting on the upper left stretcher edge; otherwise in very good condition. Framed to an overall size of 30.5 x 23.5 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.
*Heritage Auctions strives to provide as much information as possible but encourages in-person inspection by bidders. Statements regarding the condition of objects are only for general guidance and should not be relied upon as complete statements of fact, and do not constitute a representation, warranty or assumption of liability by Heritage. Please note that we do not de-frame lots estimated at $1,000 or less and may not be able to provide additional details for lots valued under $500. All lots are sold "AS IS" under the Terms & Conditions of Auction.
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