History of illustration: JC Leyendecker's illustrated 23rd Psalm.

A 1905 Rendition of the 23rd Psalm, Gorgeously Illustrated in Proto-Deco Style

A 1905 Rendition of the 23rd Psalm, Gorgeously Illustrated in Proto-Deco Style

The Vault
Historical Treasures, Oddities, And Delights
April 22 2015 12:39 PM

A 1905 Rendition of the 23rd Psalm, Gorgeously Illustrated in Proto-Deco Style

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Early–20th-century artist J.C. Leyendecker created this beautiful series of illustrations of the 23rd Psalm for the women's magazine the Delineator, where they were published in December 1905

When Leyendecker aficionado Alfredo Villaneuva-Collado posted scans of his copy of “A Song of Faith” on Collectors Weekly's website, he categorized the colorful images as art nouveau. Looked at from some angles, the illustrations also foreshadow the strong, geometric lines of the art deco style that would become popular in the 1920s and 1930s. In motif, they're influenced by the Egyptian revival style, fashionable in American decorative arts in the 19th and early 20th centuries. And some panels are reminiscent of the closely-detailed, golden paintings of Leyendecker's European contemporary, Gustav Klimt. 

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Leyendecker, who was to go on to prominence as a magazine and advertising illustrator with mainstream clients like the Saturday Evening Post, the Arrow Collar and Shirt Company, and Gillette, was (it’s commonly acknowledged) a gay man. It’s interesting to compare the figures of “A Song of Faith” with the idealized male bodies (many modeled on the artist’s partner, Charles Beach) that appear in Leyendecker's later work for Cooper Union Suits, Interwoven Socks, and the Post.

Collectors Weekly writer Hunter Oatman-Stanford's interview with Villanueva-Collado includes many more Leyendecker images. 

1SongOfFaith

Alfredo Villanueva-Collado/Collectors Weekly.

2SongOfFaith

Alfredo Villanueva-Collado/Collectors Weekly.

3SongOfFaith

Alfredo Villanueva-Collado/Collectors Weekly.

4SongOfFaith

Alfredo Villanueva-Collado/Collectors Weekly.

5SongOfFaith

Alfredo Villanueva-Collado/Collectors Weekly.

6SongOfFaith

Alfredo Villanueva-Collado/Collectors Weekly.

7SongOfFaith

Alfredo Villanueva-Collado/Collectors Weekly.