Monday, November 9, 2020

J.C. Leyendecker's Women

J.C. (Joseph Christian) Leyendecker (1874-1951) was extremely popular during his long heyday as an illustrator thanks to a trademark painting style.  Eventually, that style fell from fashion: I wrote about his late works here.  I also wrote about his use of lighting here.  His Wikipedia entry is here.

Leyendecker was best known for his Saturday Evening Post magazine covers and his art for Arrow Collar and Kuppenheimer menswear advertisements.  For commercial and to some degree personal reasons Leyendecker tended to portray men.  However, he also included fetching young women as subjects when required.

This post presents some of his portrayals of women, showing variations in his technique from near the turn of the 20th century to the early 1930s.  Note that some of the women seem similar.  That might be because he often used Phyllis Frederic as a model for the later half of that period.


A study from 1896.  At about age 22 he already was using white paint applied over the painting surface to create a background or setting effect.

Magazine illustration from 1905.  His signature style was beginning around that time, but is apparent here only in his treatment of the lady's dress and some of the background.

A 1906 Easter illustration.  Again, little sense of his style because in part he needed to satisfy art directors who expected conventional appearance.

Even as late as 1923 in this Saturday Evening Post cover art Leyendecker painted the subject matter smoothly.  Note the depiction of cracks on the bowl in the foreground ... interesting detail.

A photo I took years ago showing a detail of a 1920 painting from the Kelly Collection of important illustrations.  Click on this image to enlarge greatly and observe Leyendecker's signature style up close.  His drawing has a sculptural feeling.  This and the regular brushwork on color overlays comprise much of that style.

Detail from another illustration.

And another.  The woman's neck and shoulders seem unnatural to me, but perhaps got lost in the full illustration.

A study squared for transfer to the finished illustration.

Another detail from a larger work.  Here there are more dark structural lines than usual, perhaps because this is from 1910 when his style was fairly new and still evolving.

Kuppenheimer advertisment art.

1932 Arrow ad art.  The models are Phyllis Frederic and Brian Donlevy -- who had a long career in movies.  She is painted smoothly, not in the style shown in the detail images above.

Studies of details in the previous image.


Anonymous said...

Do you know who the older portly female model was as seen on Thanksgiving Saturday Evening Post covers of 1925 and 1935?

Donald Pittenger said...

Anonymous -- Sorry, I don't know.