The National Museum of American Illustration
NMAI ANNOUNCES MAJOR LOAN OF J.C.
On exhibit for the first time at the National
Museum of American Illustration is J.C. Leyendecker’s
masterpiece Couple Descending
Loaned to the NMAI by a private collector, this
Arrow Collar advertisement has never been
the public before and will be on display for the first time
commencement of the
New York Times Arts & Leisure Weekend, in
NMAI is participating (see details below).
Joseph Christian Leyendecker (1874-1951), most
associated with the Saturday Evening Post
he illustrated 322 covers, was one of the most
prolific illustrators of the ‘Golden Age of American
(1860-1930).Leyendecker began his studies at the
Art Institute in 1889 where he quickly gained the
his teachers and peers for his outstanding talent. In
left Chicago for Paris where he studied at the Académie
Leyendecker excelled at the Académie
and was considered one of the most talented
students ever to
attend. Though Leyendecker did not
the Art Nouveau movement at the time, he was
perhaps unknowingly influenced by it, as elements of
popular art are clearly detected in much of his work
throughout his career. Examples of this can be seen
the Arrow Collar advertisement above and the
below of an early work
entitled In the Yale Boathouse, which is in the
permanent collection of the NMAI. In taking a closer
Couple Descending A Staircase, it
evident that the three-dimensional quality of the
softens into a beautifully painted design which might well
appear at home in a Mucha poster. Similarly,
The Yale Boathouse contains swirls in the water
bottom half of the image that take on a more stylized
indicative of the Art Nouveau style and Mucha's influence on
Above left: J.C. Leyendecker (1874-1951) Arrow Collar
Advertisement Couple Descending A Staircase c.
1925 oil on canvas 48" x 36" Arrow Collar advertisement,
Peabody & Co., Inc. J. C. Leyendecker by Michael Schau, p.
Below: J.C. Leyendecker In The Yale Boat House
(1905) oil on canvas, Century Magazine
In 1905 Cluett, Peabody & Co., Inc., manufacturers of Arrow
brand detachable shirt collars commissioned Leyendecker to
illustrate their ads. Cluett, Peabody & Co. needed a
“superstar” artist who could depict fashionable and
sophisticated men sporting detachable collars. It is no
surprise that they chose Leyendecker as the prime artist to
sell their wares, for he was a veritable celebrity,
gracing cover after cover of the most popular magazine in
the nation; The Saturday Evening Post.
Couple Descending A Staircase is revered as the
quintessential Arrow Collar advertisement, for its subjects
clearly embody the grace, sophistication and elegance that
society in the 1920’s aspired to and so admired, and that
which Leyendecker portrayed. A well-dressed, well-educated,
handsome man of breeding and position in the 20’s
might hear himself being called an “Arrow Collar Man”.
Leyendecker chose two striking public figures; Brian Donlevy
and Phyllis Martingnoni as his models for Couple
Descending A Staircase as they epitomized the inherent
qualities he sought. Donlevy was a popular
actor of the 1930’s most known for his roles in Barbary
Coast, Beau Geste, Stagecoach and The Great McGinty.
Ms. Martingnoni was a member of the famous thespian
family- the Fredericks. Her father being “Pops” Frederick,
her mother and siblings were
tantamount to the Barrymore family although in silent films.
They were both renowned movie stars.
The breadth of Leyendecker’s influence on American popular
culture can be witnessed in the success of the Arrow
Collar advertisements which grossed $32 million in sales by
1918 for Cluett. Also, Charles Beach, the most famous of
Leyendecker's models received over 17,000 fan letters
in 1920 from love-sick woman admirers. This was more
mail then Rudolph Valentino received at the height of his
career. Through the intense popularity of his images,
Leyendecker defined the standards of American male beauty,
and as a consequence it made him one of the most
prominent and successful artists in American history.
The NMAI will be participating in the New York
Times, 2007 Arts & Leisure Weekend. The Museum
and Museum Shop will be open THIS WEEKEND Friday,
January 5 from 10AM
to 4PM, Saturday, January 6 from 10AM to 4PM and Sunday,
January 7 from 10AM to 4PM for self-guided tours with
buy one get one free admission. Tickets are $25,
Seniors 60+ and military with id are $22, Children 12 and
under are not admitted.
If you are unable to join us for the up-coming Arts &
Leisure Weekend and you would like to visit during the
2007 winter season, please call 401-851-8949 ext. 18 well in
advance to possibly be included in a prescheduled group tour
Please consider a gift to the NMAI to further support our
at preserving these masterpieces of American Culture in
perpetuity. Contact: Lee Ann Scotto T:401-851-8949 x 31, or
Email: email@example.com. The NMAI is
administered by the American Civilization Foundation, a non-
profit 501 (c) (3) organization, approved by the U.S Internal
The image may be used in publicizing the National Museum of
American Illustration or the loan of the painting. If your
publication wishes to utilize the image, please contact Lee Ann
Scotto for permissions and copyright information.
Lee Ann Scotto, Assistant to the Director, The
National Museum of American Illustration, Vernon Court, 492
Newport, RI 02840
T: 401-851-8949 ext.31
The National Museum of American Illustration is a nonprofit
independent, educational, and aesthetic organization. It is
located in Newport, RI on Bellevue Avenue at Vernon Court
(1898), a Beaux-Arts adaptation of an 18th century French
chateau by architects Carrere & Hastings.
It is the first national museum devoted exclusively to
American illustration art.
Illustration consists of original artwork created to be
reproduced in books, magazines, newspapers and
advertisements. ‘Golden Age’ paintings by such luminaries as
Norman Rockwell, Maxfield Parrish, NC Wyeth, and 75 others
are displayed in ‘Gilded Age’ architecture, creating a unique
union of art and architecture- a national treasure.
The Museum is administered by the American Civilization
Foundation, a nonprofit organization with the goal to present
the best possible venue for appreciating the greatest
collection of illustration art; the most American of American
COPYRIGHT NOTICE: This e-mail message and its contents
are copyrighted and are our proprietary products. Any
unauthorized use, reproduction, or transfer of this message
or its contents, in any medium, is strictly prohibited.
©2007 National Museum of American Illustration