J. C. Leyendecker Cluett Dress Shirt advertisement (1907): rare, beautifully framed antique
By J. C. Leyendecker
For Cluett, Peabody & Co. 1907.
Image Size: H 13.00” x W 9.25”
Matted & Framed: H 19.25” x W 15.00”
Framed Price: $245.00
Whiteglove packaging and shipping approximately $30.00
“Joe” Leyendecker received his first magazine cover commission shortly after he opened his New York studio in 1899. The piece was requested by the Curtis Publishing Company of Philadelphia, which owned The Saturday Evening Post. The illustration JL produced appeared on the cover of its May 1899 issue. Over the next forty-four years, JL produced nearly 400 more magazine covers, including 321 for The Post.
In 1901, JL was approached by a handsome Canadian teenager named Charles Beach. Beach was, it seems, seeking work as a model. Needing one, Joe gave him a job. Four years later, when Cluett, Peabody & Company of Troy, New York selected JL to create illustrations for an ad campaign to promote its shirts and collars. JL began transforming handsome Charles Beach, dressed in stylish Cluett shirts and Arrow collars, into the paradigm of the well-dressed American male. The ads, which featured Beach looking sharp and commanding in places where the best people gathered, created a fashion sensation. The god-like “Arrow Collar Man” reportedly received baskets of mail including several proposals of marriage. No marriage was forthcoming, however, because Joe and Charles were by then an item.
Joe’s crisp, polished style amplified the attractive qualities of the upscale male figures he portrayed. In the eyes of his viewers, at least through the Roaring Twenties when everyone aspired to become—or look like—a millionaire, Joe’s figures were just the right stuff. The power of this vision disappeared as the American economy sank into the Depression of the 1930s. With it went the Cluett - Peabody ad campaign and its fat commissions.