Santa Pictures Our selection of Santa pictures are displayed over several pages to ensure that they do not take too long to display - there's nothing worse than waiting ages for pictures to load! The Santa pictures are quite unusual as many are inspired by the legend of Santa Claus and were used to illustrate the poem 'Santa Claus and his Works' by George P. Webster. The illustrator of many of the Santa pictures was a cartoonist called Thomas Nast who worked for Harpers Weekly, which was the most popular illustrated newspaper of the 1800's.
The Santa Pictures by Thomas Nash Thomas Nast embellished the legend of Santa Claus using his artistic talent and his imagination. The first of his Santa pictures was published in Harpers Weekly in 1863. His first Santa pictures showed a picture with a "flowing set of whiskers" and dressed him "all in fur, from his head to his foot." In 1866 Thomas Nash subsequently produced a montage called "Santa Claus and His Works" and the images which he included firmly established SantaClaus as a maker of toys.
Thomas Nash Montage "Merry Christmas to all" The above image of Santa is similar to our modern image
Combining the Santa Pictures with the Poem In 1869 a book called Santa Claus and his Works combined new pictures by Thomas Nast with the poem by George P. Webster. It was this poem that originally identified the North Pole as Santa's home.
"His home through the long summer months, you must know, Is near the North Pole, in the ice and the snow."
The poem also describes Santa Claus as being "fat and good-natured" and having eyes that "twinkle and shine" and that he sometimes worked with "his spectacles over his nose". George P. Webster also made reference to only giving gifts to good children:
"There the old fellow stands with a queer knowing look, Till he has in his mind every name in the book; And he would be kind to them all if he could, But he gives his presents to none but the good."
The Santa Pictures changed and so did his size! The Santa pictures which came from the imagination of Thomas Nast changed significantly. The height of Santa changed from elf size to man size but his picture dated 1881 called 'Merry Old Santa Claus' is very similar to the the modern day image. The famous poem "A Visit from St. Nicholas" commonly known today by its opening line T'was the night before Christmas was written in 1822 by Clement Clarke Moore. In this poem St. Nick was described as a "little old driver" riding a "miniature sleigh".
The History of Santa Pictures It is interesting to note that the very first Santa pictures often depicted him wearing a variety of different color coats including green, blue and mauve. In 1885 a Boston printer named Louis Prang introduced the English custom of Christmas cards to America and in 1885 one of his Christmas cards featured a red-suited Santa Claus. The modern day depiction or picture of Santa Claus wearing a red coat became standard in the 1920's. At this time an illustrator named Haddon H. Sundblom started working for the Coca-Cola company and from 1931 he produced Santa pictures every Christmas depicting him in his red coat as part of the Coca-Cola Christmas advertising campaigns. The wonderful Santa pictures by Haddon H. Sundblom captured the merry spirit of Christmas and caught the imagination of the public. The 'traditional' Santa pictures were at last born!