Skip to main content
Go to accessibility options


    Joseph Christian Leyendecker (American, 1874-1951)
    Ice Skaters, The Popular Magazine cover, March 1909
    Oil on canvas
    30 x 20 inches (76.2 x 50.8 cm)
    Signed lower right: JCLeyendecker

    Private collection, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania;
    Gift to the daughter of the above, circa 1970;
    By descent to the present owner.

    L.S. Cutler and J.G. Cutler, J.C. Leyendecker, American Imagist, New York, 2008, p.186, illustrated.

    Of the most prolific and sought after artists of the Golden Age of Illustration, J.C. Leyendecker captivated 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 1909, Ice Skaters, The Popular Magazine Cover encapsulates the artist's 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 Academie 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, he applied these new methods to his work.

    With a secret recipe combining oil and turpentine, he 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 focused on the personality of his subjects, Leyendecker painted figures that were symbolic of something, rather than human beings facing real-life situations. In the present work, an attractive, well-dressed couple is the focal point for the viewer. Up close on the picture plane, one cannot help but notice the fineries of the woman's hat, fur stole, dress, and hairstyle, as her dashing gentleman friend, equally attractive and well dressed, guides her delicately across the ice. The scene is skillfully rendered in rich greens, browns, 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.

    A prestigious Main-Line Philadelphia family presented the painting to their young daughter, a skater, approximately sixty years ago to celebrate her love of skating.

    Although the present owner of Ice Skaters has moved locations several times, she kept the present work with her throughout her life, only to be offered today for the first time in nearly sixty years.

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

    Condition Report*: We would like to thank Chelsea Restoration Associates for the following condition report: This painting is in overall very good condition. It remains structurally unaltered since it was originally stretched. The impasto and brushwork are very well preserved. The painting has been cleaned removing a soot, dirt and grime and nicotine layer. Inpaint is present corresponding to an approximately 1" loss in the scarf of the woman . A small puncture at lower left has been bonded and inpainted. Minor inpaint is also present corresponding to small scattered stains. A protective layer of synthetic resin varnish has been applied.
    *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, 2019
    1st Friday
    Bids + Registered Phone Bidders: 5
    Lot Tracking Activity: N/A
    Page Views: 5,011

    Buyer's Premium per Lot:
    25% on the first $300,000 (minimum $49), plus 20% of any amount between $300,000 and $3,000,000, plus 12.5% of any amount over $3,000,000 per lot.

    Sold on Nov 1, 2019 for: Sign-in or Join (free & quick)
    Track Item

    Heritage membership

    Join Now - It's Free

    1. Past Auction Values (prices, photos, full descriptions, etc.)
    2. Bid online
    3. Free Collector newsletter
    4. Want List with instant e-mail notifications
    5. Reduced auction commissions when you resell your
    Consign now
    • Cash Advances
    • More Bidders
    • Trusted Experts
    • Over 200,000 Satisfied Consignors Since 1976
    Consign to the 2022 May 21 Texas Art Signature® Auction .

    Learn about consigning with us

    Thank you for being so courteous and professional. This was my first experience with a professional auction company and I could not have chosen any better.
    Jeffery S.,
    Fresno, CA
    View More Testimonials receives more traffic than any other auction house website. (Source:

    Video tutorial

    Getting the most out of search