Friday, November 25, 2016

JOSEPH CHRISTIAN LEYENDECKER
SAINT OF ANTINOUS


WE honor Joseph Christian Leyendecker as a Saint of Antinous for his trail-blazing work as a homoerotic illustrator who changed the face of magazine publishing and advertising in the early 20th Century.

He is best known for his poster, book and advertising illustrations, the trade character known as The Arrow Collar Man, and his numerous covers for The Saturday Evening Post.


J. C. Leyendecker's sexuality, often attributing the apparent homoerotic aesthetic of his work to a homosexual identity. Without question, Leyendecker excelled at depicting male homosocial spaces (locker rooms, clubhouses, tailoring shops) and extraordinarily handsome young men in curious poses or exchanging glances.

Moreover, Leyendecker never married, and he lived with another man, Charles Beach, for much of his adult life, who is assumed to have been his lover and who was the original model of the famous Arrow Collar Man.

While Beach often organized the famous gala-like social gatherings that Leyendecker was known for in the 1920s, he apparently also contributed largely to Leyendecker's social isolation in his later years. 


Beach reportedly forbade outside contact with the artist in the last months of his life.

Due to his fame as an illustrator, Leyendecker was able to indulge in a very luxurious lifestyle which in many ways embodied the decadence of the Roaring Twenties. 


However, when commissions began to wane in the 1930s, he was forced to curtail spending considerably.

By the time of his death, Leyendecker had let all of the household staff at his suburban New York estate go, with he and Beach attempting to maintain the extensive estate themselves.


Leyendecker left a tidy estate equally split between his sister and Beach. 

Leyendecker is buried alongside parents and brother Frank at Woodlawn Cemetery in Bronx, New York. Charles Beach died a few months after Leyendecker, and his burial location is unknown.

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