Monday, August 23, 2010

The Haggin Museum Leyendecker Collection

The Haggin Museum J.C. Leyendecker Collection
The Haggin Museum in Stockton, California has the largest collection of works by the great American illustrator J.C. Leyendecker held by any museum.

The collection had been on tour for some time and returned to the museum in May. Since then work has been completed on a newly remodeled gallery in which the collection will be on display until December 31, 2010 (just long enough for the next installment of my traditional Happy Leyendecker Baby New Year post).

Unfortunately, the museum has not matched the renovated gallery display with a much needed revision of their online image gallery, which still suffers from images with camera lens distortion and color aberration (I’ve straightened out a few of the above images with the Lens Correction filter in Photoshop).

The images are also frustratingly small, but you can get an idea of the breadth and depth of the collection, which contains some superb examples of Leyendecker’s work, as well as unique early pieces.

The museum’s website does include an article about the exhibit and a Leyendecker biography, which includes a history of the collection and of Earl Rowland, the museum’s former director who assembled the museum’s holdings of Leyerdecker and other noted illustrators.

As far as I know, there is not a printed catalog of the museum’s Leyendecker collection, but a new, long awaited book on Leyendecker was released in 2008, J.C. Leyendecker, by Laurence S. Cutler and Judy Goffman Cutler.

J.C. Leyendecker, for those who are unfamiliar with his work, was one of the finest illustrators in the history of the art form. His relative obscurity continues to amaze me; he should at least share the spotlight usually focused on Norman Rockwell, if not eclipsing him to some degree.

For a quick selection of large images, see these two articles on Golden Age Comic Book Stories. For more on Leyendecker, including additional links to large images and other resources, see some of my previous posts listed below.

[Addendum: Since publication of this article, the Haggin Museum has updated their online gallery with some higher quality images of 8 of the works.]

11 thoughts on “The Haggin Museum Leyendecker Collection

  1. Jake

    I’m in total agreement with your sentiments about his obscurity. It baffles me how such a talent seems swept to the fringes of art appreciation. Though, I think with the recent Leyendecker book that came out, and the tour he seems to be gaining the long over due attention his art deserves. Hopefully this means we’ll be seeing more collections of his work in the future. Thanks for the post and your blog.

  2. David Teter

    Yes on yours’ and Jake’s comment on his obscurity… as an artist and art follower I so easily forget how unknown he is to the average population until I mention his name (and countless others too) and am met with “Who?”
    He was a giant, as far as I’m concerned, in the heyday of illustration.
    His style was unmistakenly his own…

  3. Charley Parker Post author

    Thanks for the comments, Jake. I also hope the book and show will bring him more recognition. I’ve seen an encouraging increase in mention of Leyendecker on the web in recent years.

    Other readers can check out the illustration, concept art and comics of Jake Parker on his blog and website. You can also see my short and quite out of date post about his work from 2005.

  4. Charley Parker Post author

    Thanks for the comments, David. It is easy to forget sometimes. Usually, if someone is familiar with Leyendecker, they are an avid fan.

    Other readers can check out David Teter’s small scale paintings, particularly his industrial landscapes, on his blog.

  5. Charley Parker Post author

    Good point about the product illustrations, Dave. Thanks.

    Other readers can see Dave Dubé’s “Old Paper Art” on his blog of the same name, in which he takes old envelopes, receipts and other printed matter as his “canvas” for paintings and drawings of a variety of subjects.

  6. Paul K

    My friend has a painting in his home, was left to him by his dad who was a graphic artist from the 40’s and 50’s. It looks like someone was experimenting with painting Santa in various poses and various stages of completion, all on one piece of canvas. He believes it is a Leyendecker…..I don’t think he knows what he has…

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