Sunday, June 17, 2007


By popular demand:

I love the way Leyendecker studies water in the next three images. He never stops looking.


Anonymous Brian said...

Man, this stuff is incredible! Even in his studies, you can see JC's mastery of color, like how he plays the green in the shadows of the headscarf off of the reddish flesh tones of the woman's face and arms.

Study, study, study this! This guy never backed away from a technical challenge, but kept applying and increasing his technical ability with each piece to tackle more difficult things, such as the patterns and "feel" of clothing, or gesture, or any of a hundred other little details that go into making masterpieces. I am far less concerned with philosophical content than I am with artistic content. This is the fruit of a lifetime of hard work and study (I believe he did this study in his 60's).

One side note--it appears he came up with his cross-hatching painting technique from his days working as an engraver in Chicago and his drawing training in France, where smudging was not allowed for drawing--only lines. Terrible that they placed such strictures on the poor lad. Look what became of it.

6/17/2007 7:21 PM  
Blogger David Apatoff said...

Brian, you have a good eye. It's great to hear from people who appreciate the depth that these paintings offer.

Leyendecker's finished paintings are so polished and seamless, I almost prefer his studies for what they reveal about his creative process.

6/17/2007 11:14 PM  
Anonymous Brian said...

One more quick comment, David (and thanks for the compliment!)--one thing I don't think many people appreciate about Leyenekcer was that he used a limited palette for quite a bit of his work. In the study of the husband and wife, I see just a few colors--some kind of duller red, like an indian red, black, white, and yellow ochre. The painting of the pilgrim is very simple too, almost two colors plus white. The marching band major is cad red, yellow ochre and black plus white. His color always looked good because he got his color temperature relationships right, and he got his values and drawing right.

This is another great lesson, if you see it, and that is that color can look brilliant if you get your color temperature relationships right, not just by using very vivd colors--in fact, doing that makes it harder. He gave up something to get something else, and in the end he got what he gave up back. Ironic, but true.

This is why we study the masters folks! Its one of the most enjoyable kinds of study there is!

6/18/2007 1:12 AM  
Blogger colin said...

I guess it's easier to get comments for speaking your mind. ;-) I just wanted to say that seeing these incredible pieces and others like them on your blog is the reason I keep coming back, even if those aren't the posts that get the most comments.

Here's a really difficult question for you: Is there anything out there (books or exhibitions?) that show Leyendecker's development? Surely he evolved over time, or did he appear on the scene fully formed? I suppose it's too much to ask, really, that history preserve the early works, too.

6/21/2007 4:17 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

david, really curious as to where you got ahold of these. are there any leyendecker books you recommend?

6/22/2007 11:51 AM  
Blogger David Apatoff said...

Colin, it's great to share these images with such an appreciative audience. I feel we owe it to the brilliant artists who maintained such high standards while laboring in relative obscurity for so long.

The two best books on Leyendecker that I know are the ones by Michael Schau and Fred Taraba. Schau's book in particular has some material from Leyendecker's earlier years. Also, the great Illustration House gallery in New York sometimes has some very early work by Leyendecker. You can tell by looking at his pencil drawings that when he first got out of art school, he was already pretty hot stuff.

6/22/2007 11:36 PM  
Blogger David Apatoff said...

Anonymous, most of these are from the originals. You can't see what makes these paintings so great without an up close, personal image of the real painting. As for books, check out my response to Colin above.

6/22/2007 11:40 PM  
Blogger Daya said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

7/06/2007 1:07 PM  
Blogger Daya said...

Man, between Cornwell and Leyendecker, I wonder what happened to the graphic design that used to be inherent in painting and image making in general. They had such a great sense of graphic shapes that at times the fact that they were painting figures almost seems like it was a secondary purpose.

Leyendecker would render but his work can still be broken up into two values, and therefore the design is still structurally intact. I mentioned Cornwell because at certain periods they seem to have had a similar style. Thanks for all the info you give here, I love it every time.

7/06/2007 1:09 PM  
Anonymous Kent Steine said...

Nice of you to recognize my book in both image and comment. . . However, The J.C. Leyendecker Poster book was written by me, Kent Steine, not Fred Taraba. Fred helped me with securing the images, but I wrote all of the text.

The best,
Kent Steine

7/27/2007 6:14 PM  
Blogger David Apatoff said...

Thanks for the correction, Kent. I admire your book and was happy to grant permission for you to use one of my Leyendecker images. I realize now that the book did not specify who was responsible for which portions, but I should have given attribution to both of the listed authors.

I should also confess that I was uncertain about including your name because you were cited by the American Art Archive, at,jc_studies.htm, as their authority for claiming that a collection of studies on their website are authentic Leyendecker paintings. Since my own view is that they are not authentic, and that they are clearly inferior work, I did not want to create confusion in the minds of readers who were asking to see more Leyendecker sketches. I didn't want them following Google and getting a mistaken impression of Leyendecker's true talent.

If I have misread your position in some way, I am happy to discuss on or off line.

7/31/2007 2:16 PM  
Blogger adebanji said...


9/14/2008 9:50 PM  
Anonymous Eddy Del Rio said...

Are there any publications that discuss the painting style and application of JC Leyendecker?

2/15/2010 4:59 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Are there any publications that discuss the JC Leyendeckers painting technique?

2/15/2010 5:01 AM  

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