Maurice Sendak: 1928 – 2012

Where The Wild Things Are - Maurice Sendak

Maurice Bernard Sendak was born on June 10, 1928 in Brooklyn, New York, to Polish-Jewish immigrant parents.  He was often sick as a child and spent much of his time indoors where reading was a major pastime. It was during this time that he began drawing, a passion that continued throughout high school. Shortly after graduating, Sendak published a number of illustrations in the textbook “Atomics for the Millions”.

Sendak began working for FAO Schwartz as a window dresser in 1948 and took night classes at the New York Art Students League. Four years later, he left Schwartz to become a full-time freelance children’s book illustrator.

By the early 1960′s, Sendak had gained recognition as one of the more interesting and expressive illustrators in the business.  Where The Wild Things Are, published in 1963, brought him international acclaim and became a favourite among children around the world.

Over the course of his career, Sendak has created dozens of popular children’s books including “In The Night Kitchen”. Published in 1970, the book has been censored often for its drawings of a young boy dancing naked through the story.

Sendak has won numerous awards including the Caldecott Medal for “Where the Wild Things Are”,  the Hans Christian Andersen Award for children’s book illustration, the National Book Award, the Laura Ingalls Wilder Medal, and others.

As well as his work as a writer and illustrator of children’s books, Sendak has produced both operas and ballets for television and the stage.

According to Harper Collins Rosenbach Museum & Library, “Where The Wild Things Are” has sold over 19 million copies worldwide (2008).  A large collection of his work is housed at the Rosenbach Museum & Library in Philadelphia. His collection of approximately 10,000 works of art, and manuscripts, and books have been the subject of numerous exhibitions at the Rosenbach.

Sendak died in the morning of May 8, 2012, in Connecticut, after complications from a stroke.

The New York Times‘ obituary called Sendak “the most important children’s book artist of the 20th century.” Author Neil Gaiman remarked, “He was unique, grumpy, brilliant, gay, wise, magical and made the world better by creating art in it.”  Sendak’s final book, Bumble-Ardy, was published eight months prior to his death. A posthumous picture book is scheduled for publication in February 2013.

For more information, visit the sources links below.

Sources: PBS-American Masters, Wikipedia-Sendak, Wikipedia-Where The Wild Things Are
paintings: art paintings, portrait paintings and oil painting

J. C. Leyendecker: 1874-1951

Saturday Evening Post Cover-J.C. Leyendecker 1936Born on March 23, 1874, in Montabour, Germany, Joseph Christian Leyendecker was  America’s most popular and successful commercial artist in the early decades of the 20th century.

In 1882, the Leyendecker family immigrated to Chicago, Illinois where his mother’s uncle had founded the McAvoy Brewing Company. After studying drawing and anatomy under John H. Vanderpoel at the Chicago Art Institute, J. C. and his brother Frank traveled to Paris where they studied at the Académie Julian. During this time they were exposed to the work of Toulouse-Lautrec, Jules Chéret, Alfons Mucha, and the French Art Nouveau movement. The brother’s returned to America in 1899 and in that same year, J.C. received his first commission for a Saturday Evening Post cover. It was the first of over 320 covers he would create for the Post, as well as many advertisement illustrations for the magazine’s interior pages. Leyendecker’s most well known work for the post was the New Year’s Baby. For close to forty years, the Post featured a Leyendecker Baby on its New Year’s covers.

Leyendecker also made a name for himself through his illustrations for the Arrow brand of detachable shirt collars.  Leyendecker created his “Arrow Collar Man”, a handsome, smartly dressed man who became the “symbol of fashionable American manhood.” Charles A. Beach was the original Arrow Collar model. Beach was Leyendecker’s assistant, business agent, and companion – a relationship that lasted nearly 50 years.

As well, Leyendecker designed posters for the World War I and World War II efforts that inspired many Americans to support the cause.  His sports posters which often promoted Ivy League football, baseball and crew teams, were widely collected by college students.

Leyendecker also created advertisements for The House of Kuppenheimer, Ivory Soap, and Kelloggs, as well as covers for other magazines including Collier’s and Success.

Leyendecker reached the height of his fame in the 1930’s. “His popularity grew from his ability to establish a specific and readily identifiable signature style.  With his very wide, deliberate stroke done with authority and control, he seldom overpainted, preferring to interest the viewer with the omissions as well as the parts included. Leyendecker’s approach to his career influenced the art of illustration and he became a mentor to an entire generation of younger artists, most notably Norman Rockwell, who began his career by emulating Leyendecker.”

By the end of the 1930s, Leyendecker’s grew less popular. He painted his last cover for the Post shortly after the U.S.A entered World War II.  “Though few today recognize the name Leyendecker, his work was some of the most popular of its day, owing to his ability to convey the essence of both everyday life in America and international events through paintings that reflected his unique sense of drama, romanticism and humor.”

J. C. Leyendecker died of a heart attack on July 25, 1951. He is buried alongside his parents and brother Frank at Woodlawn Cemetery in Bronx, New York.

Sources: Wikipedia, National Museum of American Illustration, The Haggin Museum,

Related Books:
J.C. Leyendecker
Covers of the Saturday Evening Post: Seventy Years of Outstanding Illustration

Poster-Art: Innovation in Poster Design

paintings: art paintings, portrait paintings and oil painting