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Saturday, 26 December 2015

Spotlight - Modern-Day Santa Claus

This month, Spotlight takes a look at the modern interpretation of Santa Claus and how he's been depicted in art. If you go back a long way you may find some origins in the legends of the Krampus, but for now we're just going to focus on the red-jacketed present-giving chap we knew growing up.

The artist most commonly credited with popularising the common look was Chicago-based Haddon Sundblom (but this may be an over-inflated claim by Coca-Cola, as the images were part of a marketing push by them). We can start by taking a look at what he did via THIS link.

There's more from Sundblom HERE and HERE (both links on the fabulous Lines and Colours blog) as well as on a page dedicated to Coca-Cola art, HERE.

But, did anyone define the look before Sundblom, or was it really his creation? Well, it turns out that JC Leyendecker, who we've featured before on Spotlight (at the end of August 2013 - here's the post if you want to take another look) worked with the traditional image earlier. If you follow THIS link, you'll see, at the top, a depiction by Leyendecker from 1923, while Sundblom's earliest was 1925 (and Sundblom did claim to have been inspired by Leyendecker).

But of course, there were some others. A version by NC Wyeth from 1925 can be found HERE, and a small collection of works (including a mid-1800s version of what clearly appears to be an earlier version still, different yet recognisable, from Thomas Nast) can be found HERE. This short article also shows a link between Nast and Leyendecker, a red-suited and very modern-looking Santa Claus by Reginald Birch, and it dates to 1906.

A very happy New Year to you all!
If you know any great art websites or articles, why not share them here? Send your suggestions to - please note that this isn't for self-promotion! 

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