DescriptionJOSEPH CHRISTIAN LEYENDECKER (American 1874-1951)
Original Advertising Preliminary
Oil on canvas
20in. x 12in.R
J.C. Leyendecker's portrayals of handsome, stylishly dressed men remain world-famous symbols of fashionable American manhood. As author Michael Schau noted in his book, 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." Leyendecker's Arrow Collar illustrations are celebrated as among the most stylish ever produced. Original art from the Arrow campaigns is rather scarce in the marketplace as the company has retained ownership of most of the paintings. Who was the Arrow Collar man? Charles Beach, Leyendecker's closest companion was a prime candidate. As cited in Michael Schau's monograph, actor Neil Hamilton, and a Leyendecker model himself, remarked, "I was making the rounds of the many film studios in Fort Lee, New Jersey, when a fellow actor pointed out Charles Beach to me on the lot and identified the dapper gentleman as the real Arrow Collar Man." As a preliminary, Leyendecker painted this detailed study over a lightly penciled grid, so that he could easily enlarge the image and correct any distortions. The work exhibits the bravura brushstrokes and reflected light and color that ensured J.C. Leyendecker a spot in the Society of Illustrators' Hall of Fame. The provenance of this piece makes for an interesting story. An art major at the College of New Rochelle had a once in a lifetime opportunity. She recalled, "I was painting in class and my art director, Mr. Ernest Thompson, arrived in a hurried manner. 'We have been given a great opportunity to purchase some art from a canvas yard sale of the recently deceased Joseph Leyendecker and you must beg, borrow, or steal any monies you can muster.' I proceeded to empty my bank account, just shy of a mere hundred or so dollars, and clambered into cars with a dozen other girls. There was a vast array of canvases flailing around that day and it did not occur to me until years later that I might have missed out on a small fortune. I have been the original owner since finding this piece tucked away in a pile of sketches among the feeding frenzy of dozens of fans only a short while after Leyendecker's demise in 1951. I was so happy that amid all the confusion I had found an actual original painting of the Arrow Man, which incidentally at the time, I youthfully thought was an antique. The God Lord has been good to me and to this day I have not regretted owning my little piece of illustrative history."
Condition report available upon request.
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