Do you like classic American advertising illustration art? Me too! The period from the late 1800s to the middle part of the 1900s is known as the “golden age of illustration”. It included Norman Rockwell who is a household name, but there were many other illustrators whose work had a huge impact on the American consciousness - illustrators such as Howard Chandler Christy, James Montgomery Flagg, and Charles Dana Gibson.
During that "golden age", some illustrators were as well known to the general public as movie stars are today. Why? Because advertising and the media hadn’t yet developed into the saturating monsters that they’ve become in this lovely 21st century world we live in. As a result, some of the characters these artists created for the print media became American icons, being seen on magazine covers, ads, posters, and newspapers.
Ever hear of the "Gibson girl" or the “Arrow Collar Man”? Well all right then. When these icons were created, it wasn’t art directors who dreamed them up, it was illustrators. The public was sometimes as familiar with the illustrators as much as they were with the iconic characters they created.
I’m a huge fan of Norman Rockwell’s work, and I love the illustrations of many artists of that classic era. However, my favorite illustrations to study and simply marvel at, are the ones done by Joseph Christian Leyendecker.
J.C. Leyendecker lived from 1874 to 1951 and had a style and technique all his own. During his career he was an illustration god to a young Norman Rockwell, and in fact, Rockwell stopped doing "Saturday Evening Post" covers after he did his 321st, stopping just shy of Leyendecker's total of 322, in homage to his hero.
Here are but a few Post covers that the casual art observer might think were painted by Norman Rockwell, but you and I know differently now don't we!
In the next few posts we’ll be taking a closer look at some of J.C. Leyendecker's great illustration work!