Christmas time’s a-coming…

Detail from "A CHRISTMAS BOX." Harper's Weekly, 1885

Detail from "A CHRISTMAS BOX." Harper's Weekly, 1885. Original wood engraving with modern hand-coloring.

 

Snowflakes are falling,

My old home’s a-calling,

Tall pines are humming,

Christmas time’s a-coming.

The classic Tex Logan song “Christmas Time’s A-coming” and other seasonal classics stage their annual return this time of year. Most Americans participate one way or another in the secular traditions that have grown up around this important winter holiday, traditions that invoke the magic of childhood and the coziness of home and hearth.

"TWAS THE NIGHT BEFORE CHRISTMAS" - Harper's Weekly, 1876.

"TWAS THE NIGHT BEFORE CHRISTMAS" - A CHANCE TO TEST SANTA CLAUS'S GENEROSITY. Harper's Weekly, 1876.

 

Among those most responsible for the imagery associated with our secular Christmas traditions is Thomas Nast, whose Christmas-themed artwork graced the pages of Harper’s Weekly from 1863 (when his depiction of Santa Claus visiting a Union encampment appeared) through 1886 when he departed the magazine. Over the course of 23 years, Nast contributed 33 Christmas drawings, almost all of them depicting or referencing Santa Claus in some way.  Although Santa appeared in the work of other artists of the time, Nast’s work was most responsible for creating and promoting the imagery we still associate with him — jolly and bearded, rotund in his bright red suit, generous with and well-loved by children.

"MERRY OLD SANTA CLAUS" Harper's Weekly, 1881.

"MERRY OLD SANTA CLAUS" Harper's Weekly, 1881. Original wood engraving with modern hand coloring

 

Nast’s child-centric view of Christmas was indebted to the 1822 poem “A Visit from St. Nicholas” by Clement Moore, whose verse, written for his family, included a jolly sleigh-riding St Nick outfitted with a sack of toys and a herd of reindeer. The relationship between Thomas Nast’s visual expression of Santa and Clement Moore’s verse can be seen most clearly in Nast’s best-known Christmas drawing “Merry Old Santa Claus,” which appeared as a centerfold in the January 1, 1881 issue of Harper’s Weekly. Armed with pipe and toys, well-fed, ruddy-complected, and glowing with genial well wishes, one can easily imagine this roly-poly Santa’s booming laugh.

 

We are pleased to be able to offer five original Thomas Nast Christmas wood engravings (each one framed and enhanced with modern hand-coloring) from Harper’s Weekly. Frames are gold with double mats. We offer two large double-page and three single-page prints. Prices range from $175 to $1250. See the prints.

 

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