Few people may recognize his name today, but from 1903 to 1943, German-born artist J.C. Leyendecker was one of the most sought-after illustrators in the United States. Leyendecker, who emigrated with his family when he was 8, first gained attention with his popular "Arrow Collar Man" ads for Arrow collars and shirts. The campaign, which greatly boosted sales, inspired tons of fan mail and a Broadway play.
Leyendecker soon began illustrating regularly for national magazines. Over the years, he created 319 covers for The Saturday Evening Post, did all the Post's holiday covers, and created the icon of the New Year's baby.
Along the way, the artist also became a great inspiration for Norman Rockwell, his good friend and neighbor. The first major exhibition of Leyendecker's work, "J.C. Leyendecker: a Retrospective," is now at the Norman Rockwell Museum in Stockbridge, Mass. More than 100 original painting and drawings are on view until May 25, 1998.