J.C. Leyendecker’s first initials stand for Joseph Christian, but they might as well stand for Joe College.
In a career spanning from 1900 until World War II, the American illustrator painted 300 covers for the Saturday Evening Post, as well as advertisements for products like Kuppenheimer Clothes and Interwoven Socks, that featured Harvard Rowers, Princeton football players, and other All-American collegiate types.
On assignment for the online magazine at RalphLauren.com, Ivy Style founder Christian Chensvold profiles the artist, on whom a lavishly illustrated new book, the first in 35 years, was recently published.
Leyendecker’s creation of the Arrow Collar Man is his most lasting legacy. Considered the first real advertising campaign and first sex symbol of either gender, Leyendecker’s iconic mascot expressed an ideal of American manhood that was equal parts rugged football hero and urbane man about town.
Quotes the article:
Amid the smoke and laughter of the Jazz Age, Leyendecker met another literary luminary: F. Scott Fitzgerald, who likely attributed some of the artist’s predilections—such as remaining mysteriously aloof at the lavish galas he threw—to the doomed hero Jay Gatsby. “The characters of F. Scott Fitzgerald’s ‘The Great Gatsby’ come to mind in many Leyendecker pictures of the twenties,” writes Michael Schau in his 1974 book on the artist (the only other major Leyendecker study): “Well-to-do, civilized people with self-confidence reinforced by breeding, education, position and taste.”
More from the artist:
Images provided by Abrams Books.