"Lots of artists can fill their work with aching homosexual tension, but no one else can make the impending sodomy look quite as classy and exquisitely dressed as Leyendecker can.” - source
Before Rockwell, a Gay Artist Defined the Perfect American Male
"Nobody had to tell J.C. Leyendecker that sex sells. Before the conservative backlash of the mid-20th century, the American public celebrated his images of sleek muscle-men, whose glistening homo-eroticism adorned endless magazine covers. Yet Leyendecker’s name is almost forgotten, whitewashed over by Norman Rockwell’s legacy of tame, small-town Americana.
"Rockwell was just an 11-year old kid when Leyendecker created the legendary “Arrow Collar Man” in 1905, used to advertise the clothing company’s miraculous detachable collars. One of America’s first recognizable sex symbols, this icon of masculinity was defined by his poise and perfection, whether on the sports field or at the dinner table. Like the Gibson Girl, the Arrow Collar Man developed a singular identity, equal parts jock and dandy, who supposedly received more fan letters than silent film heartthrob Rudolph Valentino. To top things off, Leyendecker’s men were often modeled after his lover and lifetime companion, Charles Beach, making their secret romance a front-page feature across the U.S."
- continue reading this article by Hunter Oatman-Stanford in Collectors Weekly.
Additional reading can be found at one of my favorite sites: Gay Influence.
J.C. Leyendecker in 1895.