Joseph Christian Leyendecker
1874-1951 | American
The Reluctant Golfer
Collier's Magazine Cover, September 23, 1916
Signed "JCLeyendecker" (lower right)
Oil on canvas
A robust golfer feels the strain of his next shot in this oil on canvas by the great American illustrator J.C. Leyendecker. Painted for the September 23, 1916, cover of Collier’s Magazine, The Reluctant Golfer encapsulates J.C. Leyendecker's signature style. The artist is renowned for his ability to capture the character of his models and convey a story through a single scene. His works such as this are as engaging today as they were over a century ago.
The great American illustrators of the 20th century — Norman Rockwell, J.C. Leyendecker, John Philip Falter and others — often portrayed golf-themed covers for the most renowned publications of the day. The game of golf, which was introduced in the United States in the 1890s, had just begun to gain traction among middle-class Americans at the time of this painting's creation. This is not the only work on the theme that Leyendecker created; just four years later, he composed a charming scene of a caddy for the March 13, 1920, cover of the Saturday Evening Post. Even his iconic, debonair Arrow Collar Man got in on the fun, sporting golf clubs in a number of ads throughout the early 20th century.
With his deliberate brushstrokes and distinctive cross-hatching technique, Leyendecker seldom overpainted his canvases, and subsequently, his works captivate the viewer as much with their omissions as the elements included. Here, Leyendecker's apprehensive golfer is accompanied only by his club and handkerchief, but these elements are all that the artist needs to set up his scene. With his uncanny talent for conveying narrative, Leyendecker successfully gives the viewer a humorous story in his distinctively uncluttered style.
J. C. Leyendecker is credited for creating some of the most beloved and endearing images of his era that set the style and tone for entire generations of Americans. In 1898, Leyendecker produced the first of 48 covers for Collier’s magazine. The next year, he painted his first cover for 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. Today, he remains one of the most beloved American illustrators of the early 20th century.
Canvas: 25 1/2” high x 21” wide
Frame: 38 7/8" high x 30" wide