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
"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!