Friday, August 11, 2017

Illustrations by Alexander Leydenfrost

[To download these images in their original size, please go here.]

Often in the pulps, the skill and imagination of the illustrators far outclassed the abilities of the writers, and this was particularly true for Alexander Leydenfrost.

(But not in the case of Leigh Brackett. Her skills, and his, were more evenly matched.)

Leydenfrost studied at the Royal Academy of Fine and Applied Arts of Budapest. In 1919, he was appointed as a professor of perspective and applied art at the Royal Technological University, also in Budapest. The term 'applied arts' is now known as 'industrial design'. As a professor with his summers free, the Baron traveled throughout Europe. According to family, he considered it quite a challenge to see the most of Europe on the least amount of money. His plan involved traveling from monastery to monastery as a guest of the monks. An added benefit of his stays with the monks was his having great works of art and literature at his disposal. These visits were no doubt quite influential on his artistic style.

In 1923, Middle European financial and ethical collapse forced Sandor and three close friends, Peter Lorre, Bela Lugosi, and Paul Lucas, to immigrate to America. Reportedly known as the 4 "Ls", the friends found themselves in New York City. Leydenfrost's exodus, however, was further complicated by circumstance. Like any young male of noble European birth, Leydenfrost was trained in the art of fencing. In Europe at the time it was commonplace to defend a woman's honor in a duel. Just before the time of his immigration Leydenfrost suffered from numerous wounds received from such practice. Upon arriving in New York, these wounds forced him to remain in bed.

Still able to draw and paint while bed-ridden, he had his three friends who took his portfolio around town to secure work. The four of them were able to live comfortably off of the Baron's commissions until his wounds healed. [From Tina Saint-Paul, granddaughter of the artist.]

Super Science Stories, August 1942.

"No Man's Land, by John Buchan. Famous Fantastic Mysteries, December 1949.

Planet Stories, Winter 1942.

Planet Stories, Summer 1942.

Planet Stories, Spring 1942.

Planet Stories, Spring 1942.

Famous Fantastic Mysteries, June 1949: a story with nothing to offer, but that would never stop Leydenfrost.

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