Iconic illustrator J.C. Leyendecker was born in Montabaur, Germany, in 1847. He immigrated with his family to Chicago at the age of eight. Leyendecker and his brother, Frank, also a talented artist, studied art at the Academie Julian in Paris under William Bouguereau. Leyendecker’s talent was immediately apparent, and he developed the dazzling technical proficiency and refined skill that placed him among the best in the world.
Leyendecker sketched constantly and filled canvases with all manner of illustrations, from the blooms in his garden to a model’s head. He refused to use photographs, so his store of pencil and charcoal sketches aided greatly in his creative process.
After his studies in Paris, Leyendecker moved to New York City, where he became a fixture in the American advertising and publishing industry. Known for his “Arrow Collar Man” created for Cluett, Peabody & Co. to advertise their Arrow collars and his series of New Year’s babies, Leyendecker created countless advertising illustrations and more than 320 covers for The Saturday Evening Post. His cover for Mother’s Day in 1914 is widely credited for creating an American tradition and launching the flower delivery industry.
He was a friend and mentor to Norman Rockwell, who began his career emulating Leyendecker. Leyendecker’s work forever captures an idyllic America with sharp-dressed, athletic men, lithe and graceful women and rosy-cheeked children. His elegant vision of 20th Century America was the first to sell a “lifestyle” and helped shape the fashion advertising industry.