Tuesday, January 4, 2011

The Artist and the New Year's Baby

Have you heard of J. C. Leyendecker?(1874-1951) What if I added that he was the illustrator who inspired Norman Rockwell?

You see, Leyendecker was the illustrator of the magazine covers at the very popular Saturday Evening Post. In that role, he preceded Rockwell.

I was searching for iconic images for 2011's first blog. There were many images of chubby, precocious New Year's babies which I had seen before. What I didn't know was that they were all illustrations by one artist - J. C. Leyendecker. As I researched his name, I found that he was responsible for the style and look of the magazine's covers. I needed to know more about him and share what I learned with you.

Born in Germany, Leyendecker emigrated as a child to the United States. He was only a a teenager when he received his first paid commission for illustrations. Formal training at the Chicago Art Institute would follow. After an additional year of art study in Paris, he returned to Chicago and begin receiving commissions.

In the course of 44 years, he illustrated at least 322 magazine covers for the Saturday Evening Post! Leyendecker's creative output would include not only the chubby New Year's baby, but also the rotund image of Santa Claus. (Perhaps based on the poem, "Twas the Night Before Christmas" by Moore.)

One more bit of interesting info: Leyendecker's illustration style not only influenced Rockwell's work, but also today's artists. It seems that computer game illustrators have used his techniques for various game graphics. Inspiring artist indeed!

Here are a few more of his New Year's baby covers... and Happy 2011 to you!


  1. I so enjoy your blog. I never heard of this artist either. Interesting that Rockwell is so well known and not the man who inspired him. Gen

  2. Who knew? I love his baby illustrations. Kathy

  3. No, I've never heard of him either. Surprising how many unknown artists have influenced more widely know ones. That poor 1932 baby, trying to navigate all of the air traffic. sz

  4. Wow, that was good information! Thank you. MAJ

  5. Good info again Teacher, thank you. I appreciate your efforts RA, very very much. Connie