The Gay Art of Thanksgiving
The prolific American illustrator J.C. Leyendecker was the creator of the Arrow Collar Man, and like the later illustrator Norman Rockwell, Leyendecker is almost exclusively associated with one publication: The Saturday Evening Post. Leyendecker produced over 400 magazine covers, 322 for the Post alone. Between the Post, his work for U.S. military campaign posters and promotions, and his art for men’s fashion companies — most notably the Arrow Shirt Collar Co. — Leyendecker created a gold mine of male beauty. His lucrative commissions financed a hedonistic Roaring Twenties lifestyle with his lover and favorite model, Charles Beach.
Leyendecker's Thanksgiving covers range from coyly sexual to the full-on schmaltz of grandmothers and cherubs. To our modern sensibilities, there is perhaps something a little cringe-worthy in the way Native Americans are portrayed. Just remember, when you see a startlingly handsome and masculine man in a Leyendecker ilustration, he is winking at you from the great art studio in the sky.
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