J.C. Leyendecker’s
Saturday Evening Post Covers

J. C. Leyendecker created some of our most beloved and endearing symbols that set the style and tone for entire generations of Americans. From the Age of Opulence, through Art Deco and the Age of Style, Leyendecker remained steadfastly true to his view of the world. The power of his images is such that many of them reign today, part of our everyday life. They pique the imagination for all ages and have spread the world over.

In a widely supported editorial in 1903, The Saturday Evening Post called for a revamping of the national holidays, lamenting that although there were thirty holidays on the calendar, only five received any general observance. “We have on Christmas the opportunity for love and charity, at Thanksgiving the occasion for gratitude, on Election Day the right of self-government, on the Fourth of July the display of patriotism.” Leyendecker took these words to heart. Not only did he create for those special days images that came to symbolize the holiday itself, his depictions actually changed the way America celebrated. Thus began a tradition at the magazine.

At first Leyendecker asked for the holiday issues, but later the art editor automatically came to him with those assignments. The public came to expect the Leyendecker images, and the magazine thrived. So popular were Leyendecker’s holiday covers that Post subscriptions increased with each one; by 1913, circulation had risen to two million copies a week, making it the most popular magazine in the world. It did not elude Leyendecker that the huge response images received was at least in part to his having chosen a specific symbol for each holiday, enabling his public to focus on a single comprehensible theme.

Many of J.C. Leyendecker’s concepts (a baby for the New Year, flowers for Mother’s Day) have lasted well beyond the demise of the Post and remain iconic images today. J.C. Leyendecker’s Saturday Evening Post Covers showcases his 322 covers for The Saturday Evening Post – more than any other artist - which testify to the brilliance and importance of this powerful, iconic image-maker.