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J.C. Leyendecker posterJ.C. Leyendecker

The Haggin Museum Leyendecker Collection is now on display in a newly-refurbished gallery

Before Norman Rockwell, there was J.C. Leyendecker – arguably the nation's most popular and successful commercial artist of the first four decades of the 20th century.

The Haggin Museum's collection of more than 50 original works by Leyendecker represents the largest held by any museum. A majority of the collection has returned to public display in a newly-refurbished gallery.

Though few today recognize the name Leyendecker, his work was some of the most popular of its day, owing to his ability to convey the essence of both everyday life in America and international events through paintings that reflected his unique sense of drama, romanticism and humor.

He is best known for his cover work for Collier’s magazine and the Saturday Evening Post, for which he produced more covers than any other artist. His creation of the "Arrow Collar Man" in 1905, as well as the images he created for Kuppenheimer Suits, Interwoven Socks and the Cooper Underwear Company (precursor to Jockey Intl.), soon came to define the fashionable American male of the early 20th century.

His artwork was also used to promote a host of other products including soap, automobiles, cigarettes and cereal, such as a series of wholesome children enjoying bowls of Kellogg’s Corn Flakes.

The Haggin Museum's Leyendecker collection was assembled in the 1950s by former director Earl Rowland. An admirer of the artists of the "Golden Age of American Illustration," Rowland contacted some of the companies for which Leyendecker had worked to request any paintings that they might still have in their possession. He also contacted individuals who had inherited a number of his original canvases, such as the artist's sister, Augusta Leyendecker.

Leyendecker once told fellow illustrator Orson Lowell that he would rather have his work reproduced well and enjoyed by the masses than to have a select few view it in a museum or gallery. Nevertheless, we feel he would surely approve of this opportunity to share his warmth, humor, imagination and tremendous talent with the people of the 21st century.

Image Gallery of the Museum Leyendecker Collection >>