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    Joseph Christian Leyendecker (American, 1874-1951)
    Summer, The Saturday Evening Post cover, August 27, 1927
    Oil on canvas
    26-1/2 x 19-1/2 inches (67.3 x 49.5 cm)
    Signed with monogram lower left: JCL

    Private collection, New York;
    Private collection, by descent;
    Acquired by the present owner from the above.

    L.S. Cutler and J.G. Cutler, J.C. Leyendecker: American Imagist, New York, 2008, p. 146, illustrated.

    One of the most prolific and sought-after artists of the Golden Age of Illustration, J.C. Leyendecker captivates the public with his striking, fashionable depictions of handsome men and glamorous women. In contrast to Norman Rockwell, who sought to capture the simple moments of every-day Middle America, Leyendecker preferred a heroic, chiseled and highly refined look for his figures that were quite the opposite of the everyman that Rockwell portrayed. Painted in 1927, Summer encapsulates the high-fashion, glamorous fantasy world that Leyendecker strove to achieve over the course of his vastly successful career.

    Born in Montabaur, Germany, Leyendecker came to Chicago with his Catholic family at age eight. He apprenticed to a printer, J. Manz and Co., and then studied with John Vanderpoel at the Chicago Art Institute. In 1896, he won the Century magazine cover competition, which essentially launched him professionally. Two years later, he went to Paris to the Académie Julian with his brother, Francis Xavier, and they learned the "hachure" method of drawing whereby blended shading was not allowed. It was a time when poster art was very popular, and when he returned to America, the artist applied these new methods to his work. With a secret recipe combining oil and turpentine, J.C. and his brother, Frank, perfected a crosshatch method of working in oil paint that gave the speed of pencil and the visual impact of color without the brush going dry.

    Leyendecker did not use photographs but always employed models for his compositions. In contrast to Rockwell who concentrated on the personality of his subjects, Leyendecker painted figures that were widely symbolic, rather than human beings facing real-life situations. In the present work, an attractive, well-dressed couple is the focal point. Situated up close on the picture plane and viewed from a low and heroic vantage point, one cannot help but notice the fineries of the woman's bathing suit and silk headdress, as her dashing gentleman friend, equally gorgeous and well dressed, gazes down at his beach partner with a smile, as the sun cascades across his well-toned form. The scene is skillfully rendered in rich greens, blues, gold and orange, applied with Leyendecker's hallmark cross-hatching technique. The result is a highly refined, wonderfully descriptive moment that men and woman alike would wish to emulate.

    While both figures are masterfully painted in Summer, it is clear that the male figure is the core of the present work. Depicting the ideal male form was Leyendecker's hallmark, as evidenced by his popular "Arrow Collar Man," a mascot for the eponymous shirt collar company. Characterized by a chiseled jaw and broad shoulders, the qualities of the Arrow Collar man are evident across Leyendecker's oeuvre, reflected in his figures' faces and physique. It is believed that the Canadian model Charles Beach was the inspiration and basis for many of these paintings. Beach is a significant figure in Leyendecker's story, as the two would live together until the artist's death, with Leyendecker's estate being split between his sister and Beach. This relationship has caused speculation that the two were engaged in a romantic relationship, and that there is a subsequent subtext of homoeroticism in many of the artist's depiction of the male form.

    Published in 1927, the present work was executed during the midpoint of the artist's career, well before his final piece for the Post in 1943. Aside from its dazzling execution, Summer is equally notable in that is represents the Post's transition into producing full-color prints. Unlike earlier covers for the Post, this piece encapsulates a vibrant palette, due to such advances in printing technology. The flawless combination of technical prowess, dazzling color and quintessential subject matter brand Summer one of Leyendecker's most stylish illustrations to come to market in recent years.

    More information about Joseph Christian Leyendecker, also known as Leyendecker, Joseph Christian, .

    Condition Report*: Condition report is available upon request.
    Framed Dimensions 34 X 27 Inches
    *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. Some condition issues may not be noted in the condition report but are apparent in the provided photos which are considered part of the condition report. 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. Heritage does not guarantee the condition of frames and shall not be liable for any damage/scratches to frames, glass/acrylic coverings, original boxes, display accessories, or art that has slipped in frames. All lots are sold "AS IS" under the Terms & Conditions of Auction.

    Auction Info

    Auction Dates
    November, 2021
    5th Friday
    Bids + Registered Phone Bidders: 7
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