DescriptionJOSEPH CHRISTIAN LEYENDECKER (1874-1951)
Original Advertising Art
The House of Kuppenheimer
Merry Christmas from Kuppenheimer's, c.1924
Oil on canvas, mounted on board
30.5in. x 25.5in. (sight size)
Signed lower left: JC Leyendecker
J.C. Leyendecker's portrayals of handsome, stylishly dressed men soon became the symbol of fashionable American manhood, just as Charles Dana Gibson's portrayals had become the symbol of elegant young women. As author Michael Schau points out in his superb monograph, J.C. Leyendecker, "The characters of F. Scott Fitzgerald's The Great Gatsby come to mind in many Leyendecker pictures of the twenties: well-to-do civilized people with self-confidence reinforced by breeding, education, position, and taste. They were sophisticated but not above gaiety." Indeed, Fitzgerald himself paid tribute to Leyendecker in his 1929 story, The Last of the Belles, with this passage, "She showed me his picture -- it was a handsome, earnest face with a Leyendecker forelock -- and told me that when she met someone who measures up to him she'd marry."
Leyendecker's success with his Arrow Collar campaign soon had other clothiers seeking him out, and his ads were touted as among the most stylish ever produced. Illustrator Haddon Sundblom has often been credited with "branding" the image of Santa Claus with his Coca-Cola ads. The authors of The American Magazine write, "There was nothing elfin about Sundblom's painting, except perhaps the twinkle in his eye. He was a ruddy-faced fellow, with a hearty smile and a lap ample enough to accommodate a child or two. Not incidentally, his suit and cap were red and white, the colors of the soft drink's logo." Other Santa-philes however, credit Leyendecker with establishing the modern Santa Claus image with his Post covers. Key Leyendecker images of Santa appear on Post covers dated December 22, 1923; December 26, 1925; and December 20, 1930. Other famous illustrators including Thomas Nast and Norman Rockwell also helped standardize the image of Santa in the popular press. Their precedents influenced the Santa that Haddon Sundblom created for Coca-Cola in 1931. Leyendecker's vision of Santa in this Kuppenheimer piece is robust and atheletic; more strapping woodsman than jolly suburbanite soda-sipper! Thus this sensational painting presents a winning pair of icons, the modern successful American male and the modern Santa Claus.
Keywords: oil, painting, advertisement, fashion, Gibson, portrait, Santa Claus, Christmas
Condition report available upon request.
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2017 October 13 Illustration Art Signature Auction - Dallas