Joseph Christopher Leyendecker is widely known as one of the most prominent illustrators of the Golden Age (1920s). His work is a major inspiration for a lot of my work too.
He was born in Germany in 1874 and immigrated to the United States in 1882. Living in Chicago, he studied at the Chicago Art Institute and then in France. Learning from a variety of artists, he began to craft his style. When returned to the United States, he was commissioned to do the covers for the Saturday Evening Post.
Leyendecker created works for clothing/apparel companies as well and was very successful up through the 1920s. After the Depression, everyone took a hit and like many others, he struggled. He passed away July 25, 1951 and left behind a legacy and a volume of work that displays his drive and love for art.
He is also famous for his New Year’s Baby illustrations that he had done for a number of years. His later style especially apparent in the stylized/animated and exaggerated figures. Look at the baby’s expression and posture; it is not necessarily realistic, but it works amazingly.
If you take this painting above, you can see that this was an earlier painting. The figures are slightly exaggerated, but not as much. The brush strokes are smoother as well. If you compare this painting to the one below, you can see the style/method change. His use of the the brush is what makes his work so distinctive. Leaving the spaces and going in directional strokes creates an indescribable mood.
Definitely take the time to look up some more of his pieces because it is an experience to look at them.