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 Frank Xavier Leyendecker  (1878 - 1924)

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Lived/Active: New York      Known for: genre, portrait, illustrator

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Ad Code: 3
Frank Xavier Leyendecker
from Auction House Records.
Pierrot and Columbine, Vanity Fair magazine cover
Artwork images are copyright of the artist or assignee
This biography from the Archives of AskART:
From George Fletcher:

A 2002 Perspective Biography

Frank Xavier Leyendecker

Frank X. Leyendecker, was born Franz X. Leyendecker, to Peter and Elizabeth Ortseifen Leyendecker, on January 19, 1878, in Montabaur, Germany.

The family, which included; Adolph, age 12, Auguste, age 10, Joseph, age 8, and Franz, age 4, immigrated to America in 1882. They sailed from Antwerp on the ship Pennland, which landed in New York on July 8, 1882.

The family settled in Chicago, having been sponsored by the brother of Elizabeth, who worked for the McAvoy Brewery there. The father, Peter, went to work at the brewery. As youngsters, Frank and Joseph both displayed artistic talents. When Frank was about 16, he was apprenticed to Carl Brandt, and learned how to do stained glass art work. Later, he attended the Art Institute of Chicago, and then at 18 went to Paris with Joseph to study at the Julian Academy, the pupil of Benjamin Constant and Jean Paul Laurens.

In his book, "My Adventures as an Illustrator", Norman Rockwell wrote: " Joe and Frank Leyendecker had grown up in Chicago, where their father worked for a brewery. When the boys were very young the family had decided that Joe was a genius and, like many immigrant families, had henceforth concentrated all their efforts on helping him to fulfill himself. I guess the family felt that only one of their children had a chance to distinguish himself and so they fixed on the one who had a talent and sort of sacrificed their lives to him. Many immigrant families seem to have regarded a talent as a gift from God and therefore something which was to be respected and aided, which it would be somehow sacrilegious to waste. The Leyendeckers scrimped and saved and went without until they had gathered together enough money to send Joe to Paris to study art. Frank, his younger brother and inseparable companion, went along." Joseph was said to have had more talent than Frank, but often it was hard to tell which Leyendecker had actually done an illustration or painting.

The trip to France took place in the Autumn of 1896, when Joseph was 22, and Frank was 18. They attended the famous Academie Julian and Colarossi, and were considered to be the most talented members of their class. When the brothers returned to America in the Fall of 1898, they opened a studio in Chicago, and about a year later, their publishers enticed them to move East. Frank had much success doing covers for several magazines: Collier's, The Popular Magazine, McClure's, Life, Vanity Fair, Vogue, Success, The Saturday Evening Post, and the sales brochures for Chevrolet automobiles. His work became famous for its exquisite drawings, detail, and use of color, which is vividly evident in a cover he did for Life magazine, issue of February 10, 1921, titled " Birds of a Feather."

Frank X. Leyendecker, died April 18, 1924, at the age of 46, in New Rochelle, New York. His obituary stated " For the past 15 years, Mr. Leyendecker has made his home and done much of his work in New Rochelle, where he and his brother built a beautiful residence on the outskirts of the city. He is survived by his brother, Joseph, a brother Adolph of Kansas City, and one sister, Augusta M., who made her home with him. He was a member of the New Rochelle Art Association."

Biography from Altermann Galleries and Auctioneers, IV:
Frank Xavier Leyendecker (January 19, 1876 – April 18, 1924), also known as Frank James Leyendecker, was an American illustrator. He worked with his brother Joseph Christian Leyendecker, in their studio, first in Chicago,[1] then later in New York City and New Rochelle, New York.

He was born in Germany on January 19, 1876 as Franz Xavier Leyendecker. He studied for a time at the Academie Julian in France.[2] He was known for his stained glass work as well as his illustrations for posters, magazines and advertisements. Leyendecker served as the judge in the first Strathmore Water Color Contest, sponsored by the Mittineague Paper Company of Massachusetts.[3] His work was described as an "important feature" of the second exhibition of the Society of Illustrators at the International gallery in New York.[4] Frank Leyendecker and Augusta, lived for a period of time (though 1924) with J. C. Leyendecker and model Charles Beach in New Rochelle.[5]

Leyendecker was suffering from depression and poor health due to his ongoing drug addiction, when he most likely committed suicide by morphine overdose on April 18, 1924.[6]


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