Joseph Christian Leyendecker
1874-1951 | American
New Year's Baby
Saturday Evening Post cover, December 25, 1907
Signed "J.C. Leyendecker” (lower right)
Oil on canvas
With his iconic New Year's series of Saturday Evening Post covers, J.C. Leyendecker gave us what is perhaps the most enduring and global New Year’s symbol, that of the New Year’s Baby. It was in 1906 that Leyendecker painted his first image of a baby ringing in the New Year for the Post, in what would become an annual series of works spanning nearly 40 years. The present composition appeared on the December 25, 1907, Post cover and is the second New Year's Baby the artist created for the publication. Wearing wings and accompanied by a stork, the cherubic infant looks at the viewer with childlike innocence in anticipation of the new year.
As the most popular and in vogue cover artist for the Saturday Evening Post of his age, Leyendecker was commissioned to illustrate the most important editions of the publication and, most notably, the holiday issues. His Easter, New Years', Thanksgiving and Christmas covers would become annual events for the Post’s millions of readers, who looked forward to his iconic characters such as the New Year's Baby.
Born in Germany in 1874, Leyendecker emerged as a major talent near the turn of the 20th century, becoming the most well-liked and sought after American Illustrator of his day. In 1898, Leyendecker produced the first of 48 covers for Collier’s magazine. The next year, he painted his first cover for the Saturday Evening Post magazine, which was the beginning of a 44-year association with that esteemed publication.
Over the course of his career, he would also paint covers for Life magazine, illustrations for a library of books and transform advertising for such companies as B. Kuppenheimer & Co. and Interwoven Socks. His remarkable and extensive oeuvre ensured his influence over an entire generation of young artists, most notably Norman Rockwell, who was vocal about the impact of Leyendecker on his work. His unique hatching technique makes his distinctive style instantly recognizable, and he remains one of the most beloved American illustrators of the early 20th century.
Canvas: 24" high x 20" wide
Frame: 31" high x 27" wide