art of women

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Someone in the notes of the last Leyendecker post I reblogged mentioned having difficulty telling his work and Rockwell’s apart, and I know from experience that many people get them confused, which is somewhat astonishing as, to my eyes, their styles are very distinct. Leyendecker was Rockwell’s idol and mentor, but they were very different people and were interested in portraying different aspects of humanity, even when the basic subject matter was the same.

Surface-level, here are some differences:

  • Leyendecker smoothed out faults and imperfections (in the young. he stylized them in the old); Rockwell exaggerated them to mild or moderate caricature
  • Leyendecker approached his paintings as sculpture- even the merest clothing folds are carved out of the paint; Rockwell approached his paintings as drawings- the underlying contour always shines through.
  • Leyendecker used broad hatching brushstrokes and areas of smooth shine; Rockwell used more naturalistic texture and lighting
  • Leyendecker created idolized, larger-than-life figures that feel Hellenistic in their perfection; Rockwell created intimate scenes populated by figures that feel familiar in their specificity
  • Leyendecker’s best and most comfortable work was as a fashion/lifestyle illustrator; Rockwell’s best and most comfortable work was as an editorial/humor illustrator 
  • Leyendecker created beautiful still lives with his figures; Rockwell told compelling stories
  • Leyendecker often created erotic tension in his paintings; Rockwell almost never did.

See below: Two paintings of soldiers with women, but in Rockwell’s there is a clear punchline, and while the poses are contrived for the sake of composition, they’re not self-conscious. The women are pretty- as demanded by the central joke- but not truly sexualized anywhere but in the mind of the young soldier who is being overloaded with cake and attention. 

Contrast Leyendecker’s soldiers with a young nurse. Everyone in this image is posing attractively- no one has their mouth full or ears sticking out. Each crease and fold is sharp and sculptural, and the light picks out their best features- in particular the shoulders and posterior of the soldier facing away from the viewer. There is neither joke nor story, merely a group of beautiful young people, portrayed with deft brushwork and graceful lines. (and check out that hatching! That’s indicator #1 that you’ve got a Leyendecker image)

Leyendecker was very comfortable with “hot young things wearing clothes”, and did them very VERY well, but his facility with idealization came at the cost of personalization, which was fine for fashion illustration, but shows in his domestic scenes: 

Beautiful, but… cold. (Also, that hand on the left- who holds a baby with their hand like that??? Good lord, J.C.) Compare a Rockwell illustration (for a baby food brand, I believe) of a mother and baby: this is clearly a real and individual young mother and baby, interacting exactly how parents and babies really interact.

Even when they did basically the same content, and putting aside posing or composition or anything other than objective visual analysis, it’s still obvious who is who:

  • Red: NR’s smoother rendering vs JCL’s super cool hatching
  • Green: NR’s naturalistic cloth folds vs JCL’s sculptural stylization
  • Blue: NR’s natural lighting vs JCL’s world where everything is shiny

Now go forth, confident in the knowledge that you’ll never confuse a Rockwell or a Leyendecker ever again, and can refute any claim that their styles are ‘virtually identical’. 

tiny, messy, lunch break sketches absolutely MUST include wonder woman rn…

I love love LOVED this look (and i want to do a more finished piece with it eventually). i can’t not go hard about costuming and the history of dress and i’m going to flail about this for a sec. Costume designer Lindy Hemming clearly knew what she was doing. This wasn’t just a “this outfit is plain and practical after those nonsense ‘fashionable’ options” it was a definite, intentional nod to WWI Women’s uniforms (and Diana is going to the front, it makes sense for her to be in something uniform-ish).

Although WWII is better known for women going to work for the first time (i.e. the iconic ‘Rosie the Riveter’) - women absolutely served in various capacities in WWI and were considered crucial to the war effort. Even though most of the women who served still did so in tradition-friendly roles of relief & aid work, WWI is notable in that it was one of the first times that women served either in an enlisted or civilian capacity in uniform. 

Here are some examples of WWI women’s uniforms to show the clear tie between these and Diana’s outfit: 

Women’s Motor Corps 1916-1918 (American) - If you look at men’s uniforms from the same time period the core design elements are basically identical, they’ve just been ‘feminized’ in the women’s versions. 

UK army recruits 1917 (check out those hats! definite link between those and Diana’s, Also the clear distinction between what’s worn by the recruits and the commander)

Women Police Service, 1916 (British) - women served in uniform at home - filling traditionally male roles while men were away (MOST women served at home, with a relatively small % actually ending up at the front). below are some women firefighters in london around the same time wearing similar uniforms (i can barely go down a ladder period, much less do so with someone over my shoulder - so badass!!!): 

The costuming design is perfect in context of the movie’s storyline, wonder woman as a property, and as a tribute to the tens of thousands of women who enlisted and volunteered during the war and it made me SO HAPPY.

*side note - while pulling together these photos I learned about the Women’s Death Battalions (no, seriously) and Holy. CRAP. apparently around 6,000 russian women were actual combatants during the war and not just aid & relief and jfc how had I never heard about this? the rest of the world is like “we guess women can be nurses and ambulance drivers, we are so progressive!!!” meanwhile russia: GETS TIRED OF WOMEN DISGUISING THEMSELVES AS MEN AND SNEAKING INTO THE ARMY. FORMS WOMEN-ONLY UNITS AND CALLS THEM ‘BATTALIONS OF DEATH’*

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It’s so exciting to see my art inspire others, especially a nail designer for my fave new show Claws! I am so honored to have my illustration on @theeditorialnail ’s nails, her designs are just incredible!