Magazine article The Saturday Evening Post , Vol. 280, No. 6
Before there was Norman Rockwell, the images that defined America flowed from the deft, artistic hand of a slight, but dapper young man born in a small town in the German Westerwald.
The Arrow shirt, the Interwoven stocking, the New Year's baby, Kuppenheimer clothing, the very image of the roaring '20s and the opulent lifestyle of pre-Depression America had their birth in the studio of Joseph Christian Leyendecker.
Hired by the great Post editor, George Horace Lorimer, in 1899, Leyendecker (already America's foremost illustrator of the day) set to work transforming the cover of The Saturday Evening Post magazine. Leyendecker brought to bear his distinctive graphic style, a human touch, a mischievous wit, and perhaps his most important innovation of all, the tradition of the holiday cover. Valentine's Day, Mother's Day, Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Year's, Halloween, all became Leyendecker's special preserve. With the appeal of Leyendecker's covers, Post circulation rose by 1913 to two million copies a week, making it the most popular magazine in the world. The iconic images that sprang from Leyendecker's genius did more than sell magazines, they entered the American conscious-ness and actually changed the way we celebrated.
It was Leyendecker's image of Santa, based on the famous rhyme, "The Night Before Christmas," that standardized our image of the jolly old elf always wearing a red suit with white fur collar and cuffs, according to Leyendecker historians Laurence and Judy Goffman Curler. …