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The National Museum of American Illustration

Portrait J.C. Leyendecker


The National Museum of American Illustration (NMAI) is proud to announce that Laurence S. Cutler and Judy Goffman Cutler, Founders of the NMAI, are co-authoring the most comprehensive publication to date on the revered American illustration artist, J.C.Leyendecker (1874-1951). Harry N. Abrams, Inc. is publishing the anthology which comes after years of primary research by Laurence and Judy Cutler. The working title for the publication is, J.C. Leyendecker-An American Imagist. It will offer a never-before-seen panoptic view into the life and work of the ‘Golden Age’ artist, and will showcase Leyendecker’s tremendous body of work in a hardbound volume, comprising more then 300 pages with more then 600 color images.

Above: J.C. Leyendecker at age sixty-six

J.C. Leyendecker, Mother's Day Cover for <I>Saturday Evening Post</I>

Leyendecker is perhaps best known for his 322 Saturday Evening Post covers. He was one of the most influential and prolific illustrators of the ‘Golden Age of American Illustration' (1865:1945). No other artist, until the arrival of Norman Rockwell two decades later, was so solidly identified with one publication, the most popular magazine ever.

Joseph C. and his younger brother Frank Xavier Leyendecker, were born in Montabour, Germany, and moved to America in 1882. Joe and Frank studied together in Paris at the Académie Julian, where they developed their artistic visions. Leyendecker’s renown grew from his ability to establish a specific and readily identifiable signature style. With his very wide, deliberate brush strokes done with authority and control, he seldom overpainted, preferring to interest the viewer with the omissions as well as the parts included. His most memorable creations which live on to this day, are the Arrow Collar Man, the New Year’s Baby, and his idealized sports and war heroes.

Image above: J.C. Leyendecker (1874-1951), "Bellhop with Hyacinths," oil on canvas, 28" x 20," signed lower right, Saturday Evening Post cover, May 30, 1914

Leyendecker painted Bellhop With Hyacinths (seen above) for the Saturday Evening Post in 1914 after Congress recognized Mother's Day as an official holiday. Leyendecker initiated the tradition of giving flowers to your mother on Mother's Day with this iconic image.

J.C. Leyendecker cover for the <I>Post</I> 1926, New Year;s Baby

As the Saturday Evening Post’s most important cover artist of the day, Leyendecker illustrated the holiday issues, as well as many in between. His Easter, Independence Day, Thanksgiving and Christmas were annual events for the Post’s millions of readers. Leyendecker gave us what is perhaps the most enduring New Year’s symbol; the New Year’s Baby. For almost forty years, the Post featured a Leyendecker Baby on its New Year’s covers. The New Year’s Baby chronicled what was foremost on the collective American mind that year.

The New Year's Post cover (seen left) reflects the United States Revenue Act of 1926, which reduced personal income taxes and ended public access to federal income tax returns. The Act was passed by the 69th Congress and signed into law by President Calvin Coolidge. Leyendecker's iconic New Year's Baby is cutting income tax records in half with an ax.

Image above: J.C. Leyendecker (1874-1951),"New Year's Baby 1926," 1926, oil on canvas, 28" x 20 1/4," Saturday Evening Post , January 2, 1926

The new anthology of Leyendecker’s life and work will be the first publication on the artist since Watson-Guptill Publications published J.C. Leyendecker, (1974) a seminal work by author Michael Schau. The Cutler’s explore the artist’s sometimes, tumultuous life in great detail, lifting the veil of obscurity that has shrouded this illustration genius for decades. Moreover, they include more then 600 images of the artist’s wide range of work including; advertisements for Arrow Collar, House of Kuppenheimer, Ivory Soap, and Kelloggs, as well as magazine covers for the Saturday Evening Post, Collier’s and Success, to name a few.


The American Illustrators Gallery (AIG), NYC is preparing the Catalogue Raisonné on Leyendecker's oeuvre and is seeking entries and information on the artist and his works. Submittals should be forwarded for consideration to Ms. Lee Ann Scotto at or to the attention of Phil Peters at the American Illustrators Gallery, 18 East 77th St, New York, NY 10021.

The NMAI has in its permanent collection, the largest private collection of original illustrations by J.C. Leyendecker, and a portion of them are exhibited year-round.

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Lee Ann Scotto, Assistant to the Director, The National Museum of American Illustration-492 Bellevue Avenue, Newport, RI 02840. T:401-851-8949 ext.31- F: 401-851-8974-

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 built by architects, Carreré & 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 art.

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

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