Happy Leyendecker Baby New Year 2022!

Leyendecker Baby New Years 1922
Leyendecker Baby New Years 1922

As I’ve done every New Year’s Eve since 2006, I’ll wish Lines and Colors readers a Happy New Year with one of American illustrator J. C. Leyendecker’s wonderful New Year’s covers for the Saturday Evening Post, in this case from 1922.

Leyendecker was the first to represent the new year as a baby (originally — and occasionally afterward — a cherub) in his illustration for the SEP New Year’s cover in 1906. Over the following three plus decades, his New Year’s covers made the idea into one of our cultural icons.

His New Year’s babies were often involved in some way in the events of the year. In this case, our 1922 baby is marking the recent signing of the U.S.-German Peace Treaty after the end of WWI by salting the tail of the Dove of Peace. Salting a bird’s tail was thought to render the bird incapable of flying away.

The image at top is a digitally restored version of the image from the cover that is being offered as a print by FineArtAmerica. Below it is the cover reproduction from the Saturday Evening Post site.

Whatever else happens this year, may you find joy and inspiration in the great art of the past and present, and in the creation of art yet to be seen!


Christophe Vacher (update)

Christophe Vacher
Christophe Vacher

Christophe Vacher is a French painter and concept designer who I first wrote about back in 2007. He has worked for studios like Disney, Dreamworks, ad Universal, and his movie credits include titles like Dinosaur, Hercules, Tarzan, Treasure Planet, Enchanted and Dispicable Me.

On his website, you will find examples his personal and professional work in both traditional and digital media, as well as sketches and preliminary designs. On the “Technique” page, you will find a step-though and process notes for the panting shown above, bottom.

In addition to his imaginative design and refined rendering, I particularly enjoy the way he conveys a sense of scale and grandeur in many of his images.

There is a collection of his work available on Amazon, which can be accessed through this page. Some of his original art is available through his galleries on Saatchiart and Singulart.


J. C. Leyendecker’s wide awake Santa

Santa drinks coffee illustration by JC Leyendecker
Santa drinks coffee illustration by JC Leyendecker (detail)

Well, here’s something I didn’t know: coffee perks you up! — at least, according to this ad from the December 16, 1940 issue of Life magazine, delightfully illustrated by J. C. Leyendecker.

Apparently, Santa is WIDE AWAKE in this ad from the Pan American coffee producers. This is an advertisement for coffee in general, rather than a specific brand, back when they apparently had to convince Americans to drink coffee!

According to the text: “For sound scientific reasons, it brightens conversation, makes mind and muscles more alert — lifts up the spirits when you’re tired.”

And Santa, let me tell you — after sipping this remarkable beverage — is READY for something!

I have long suggested that, in building on the contributions of Thomas Nast and Reginald Birch, the brilliant American illustrator J. C. Leyendecker is the artist who contributed most to the characterization of Santa Claus as we recognize him, and provided the basis for later contributions by Norman Rockwell, Haddon Sundblom, N. C. Wyeth and others.

This copy of the image is sourced from the Vintascope blog, which is devoted to “vintage illustration, advertising and ephemera”.

Merry Christmas!


Edmund Dulac (revisited)

Edmund Dulac, golden age illustration
Edmund Dulac, golden age illustration

Edmund Dulac was a French illustrator who moved to England relatively early in his career and eventually became a naturalized British citizen. He worked in the latter part of the “Golden Age” of illustration and beyond.

He was renowned in particular his illustrations for several series of books based on the Arabian Nights.

I wrote more extensively about him in my post about Dulac in 2006, and I’ll refer you to that post for more of my comments. At the time, I was not including as many example images in a post as I currently do, so in this revisit I hope to rectify that.


Alberto Varanda

Alberto Varanda, comics and illustration
Alberto Varanda, comics and illustration

Alberto Varanda is a French comics artist who has worked on a number of projects for different French and Belgian publishers. You can find English language versions of his Little Pierrot comics album on Bookshop.org and Amazon, and French editions of other books on Amazon.

His style can range from cartoon like children’s book illustration to various levels of comics illustration to intricate pen and ink renderings. I particularly enjoy the latter, as well as his looser figure sketches.

His website is available in both French and English versions, though some of the pages are only available in French.


Eye Candy for Today: luminous Howard Pyle painting

Why seek ye the living in a place of the dead?, Howard Pyle, illustration
Why seek ye the living in a place of the dead?, Howard Pyle, illustration (details)

Why seek ye the living in a place of the dead?, Howard Pyle

Source for this version of the image is Fleurdulys Tumblr (large image here); original is in the Kelly Collection of American Illustration Art.

This was an illustration for the April 15, 1905 Easter themed issue of Colliers. Whether it accompanied a particular article or story, I don’t know. It was not the cover, as that was done by Maxfield Parrish.

Pyle has controlled the values brilliantly here (in both senses of the word).