While Norman Rockwell is lauded for depicting the quintessential American ideal, it was actually his mentor, J.C. Leyendecker, who invented the genre. Leyendecker became a prominent illustrator at the turn of the century executing advertisements for Arrow Collars and Shirts and covers for The Saturday Evening Post. His images evoked a naïve innocence of quaint American life that was contrary to his personal life — Leyendecker was a homosexual and riddled throughout his body of work are numerous homo-erotic themes masked as neo-classical virtue. Leyendecker created the blueprint with which Rockwell would go on to create some of the country’s most iconic images, hidden in them a subversive message, becoming the basis for America’s nostalgic memory.
The Arrow Man, modeled by Leyendecker’s lover
A blatantly homo-erotic piece by Leyendecker