Leyendecker, Kuppenheimer, Arrow... and Beach

By Roger T. Reed

By 1910, J.C. had landed two advertising accounts that would set the shape of his career even more than magazine covers: Kuppenheimer Clothes and Arrow Collar.

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Couture was important to J.C., and he had been producing a stream of fashion advertising since 1898.

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Kuppenheimer and Arrow, however, were top brands with big budgets, and they commissioned hundreds of advertising paintings from him.

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He began the Kuppenheimer campaign with a parade of men in suits...

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... but then began to incorporate the nice suits into plausible scenes of carefree young men, emphasizing collegiate sports.

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By evoking a youthful, virile atmosphere, J.C. built the foundation for today's advertising - the selling of lifestyle.

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For Arrow, he forged a different identity, focusing not on the collars, but on the faces they framed.

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It was these mostly young, clean-shaven, preppy and patrician men that sold collars and inspired thousands of romantic inquiries from women that the Arrow Collar company suddenly found themselves fielding.

The Depression finally ended these campaigns...

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... but not before Leyendecker had produced his most stunning pictures: a series for Arrow with black backgrounds that are among the most elegant and seductive graphic designs in history.

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The most important Arrow man was Charles Beach, who was tall, handsome and as socially confident as J.C. was shy. Beach posed for dozens of paintings.

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J.C. also needed a companion who could be his agent, publicist and manager and even his public face.

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There is every indication that this relationship, which lasted from 1903 to the end of his life, freed him up to do the huge amount of work he accomplished.

* Concluded tomorrow.

* The text of today's post is excerpted from the brochure of the November '97 - May '98 J.C. Leyendecker Exhibit at the Norman Rockwell Museum and is © Roger T. Reed

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