J. C. Leyendecker’s illustrations and advertisements fueled a collective visual memory for the early 20th century American public. Over the course of his career, Leyendecker created 322 covers for The Saturday Evening Post, as well as numerous other magazines, including Collier’s and Ladies’ Home Journal. The only illustrator to eclipse his fame was Norman Rockwell and Rockwell was quick to credit Leyendecker as his mentor and inspiration.
This is an early work by Leyendecker, dating to circa 1900. The sinuous reddish orange flames emitted by the slain dragon recall the steam and vapors found in his later work, including an advertisement for Ivory Soap and a Thanksgiving cover for The Saturday Evening Post. The chiseled features and elegant expressions of the two knights and Christ are similar to those of his many successful advertising campaigns and illustrations. The inclusion of columns and the decorative border also are seen in works ranging from the 1901 Thanksgiving edition cover of Success magazine to the 1931 “Queen of Spring” cover for The Saturday Evening Post. This style of monogram relates directly to those used for a 1924 The Saturday Evening Post cover (Thanksgiving, November 29, 1924) and a 1905 illustration for Century Magazine, titled "Senator of Rome." Mr. Kent Steine, a classically trained illustrator and author of The J. C. Leyendecker Collection, believes that this painting could be from a series of sixty paintings Leyendecker completed for an edition of the Bible in 1893.