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    Joseph Christian Leyendecker (American, 1874-1951)
    Beat-up Boy, Football Hero, The Saturday Evening Post cover, November 21, 1914
    Oil on canvas
    30 x 21 inches (76.2 x 53.3 cm)
    Signed lower right: JCLeyendecker
    Bears signature and inscription on the reverse: P35011 / Cover- Football / Hero / J.C. Leyendecker

    Private collection, Kanab, Utah.

    A gifted and inimitable draughtsman, Joseph Christian Leyendecker stands as a principal figure in the Golden Age of Illustration. As the inventor of the Arrow Collar Man, he defined dapper dressing and everyday activity for the entire prewar generation, and as the creator of more than 300 covers for The Saturday Evening Post, he revolutionized modern magazine design and chiefly informed Norman Rockwell's wistful vision of America.

    A sensitive observer, Leyendecker also created poignant, whimsical works capturing the antics of children, as evidenced by his iconic, recurring New Year's Baby created exclusively for The Post. To many collector and historians, Leyendecker's scenes of children are some of the finest of his entire oeuvre. Beat-up Boy, Hero of 1914 typifies Leyendecker's masterful ability to story-tell using a solitary figure as his subject-a precocious young boy beat up after a game of football-rendered in his distinctive staccato painting style.

    By 1926, when The Saturday Evening Post went to four-color printing, which reproduced his paintings in all their creative and technical splendor, Leyendecker was the most famous illustrator in America. The artist understood not only how to paint, but also how to present a clear message to his audience at the newsstand in an instant. Of all the Golden Age Illustrators, Leyendecker perhaps understood best how much to include in his composition, but more importantly, he understood restraint, and how much to leave out, in order to get his message clearly across.

    On the subject of magazine covers, Leyendecker told the Post:

    "A cover is a poster; and more related to murals, even sculptures, than to illustration. It should, therefore, tell its story on one plane, be without realistic perspective and distance.... A cover that carries an explanatory legend defeats itself...The editor prefers the cover to the simple picture because the cover sells more copies of his magazine. It sells more copies because it carries further and hits harder. It hits harder because it is a symbol; it is concentrated and says what it has to say in a straight line. It carries further because a good cover has a distinct silhouette. The reader will notice it at a greater distance. And though he can't make out the design, still the design will pull him in." (as quoted in K. Steine and F.B. Taraba, The J.C. Leyendecker Collection: American Illustrators Poster Book, Portland, Oregon, 1995, p. 12)

    In the present work a darling young boy, blonde hair tousled and eye bandaged, stands staring directly and defiantly at the viewer. He clearly suffered a few scrapes and bruises in his most recent attempt at football, yet in true childlike resilience, he is ready for more. Positioned up close on the picture plane, one cannot help but notice the spectacular rendering of various textures evident in the painting, from the crop of blonde hair to the weave of the knit shirt and pants, to the smooth shiny surface of the football in the boy's arm the simple yet effective scene is skillfully rendered in rich reds, browns, and yellows, applied with Leyendecker's hallmark cross-hatching technique. The result is a highly refined, wonderfully descriptive snapshot of a moment that every person who survived childhood can appreciate.

    Beat-up Boy, Football Hero has resided in one family for close to 100 years, and Heritage is thrilled to offer this lot to the public for the first time in nearly a century. What enhances the rarity of this remarkable work is its condition: The painting has never been relined and is still housed on its original stretcher. Additionally, a copy of the November 21, 1914 The Saturday Evening Post magazine illustrating Beat-up Boy, Football Hero on its cover accompanies this lot.

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

    Condition Report*: Original canvas. Under UV exam, minimal spots of inpaint, not extending into the figure. The largest areas of inpaint includes: 1/4 x 1 1/2 inch line of inpaint above 6 inches above the figures head; 1x2 area in the extreme lower left corner; a few 1/4 inch spots in the lower right corner. Stretcher bar lines visible. Craquelure, most apparent in the white background. Scattered scuffs commensurate with age.
    Framed Dimensions 31.5 X 22.5 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
    May, 2021
    7th Friday
    Bids + Registered Phone Bidders: 14
    Lot Tracking Activity: N/A
    Page Views: 9,156

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