American Art

December 12th: Santa with Elves by Norman Rockwell

December 2, 1922 Saturday Evening Post cover featuring “Santa with Elves” by Norman Rockwell. [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons
Painter and The Saturday Evening Post illustrator Norman Rockwell (1894-1978) is beloved in the United States for his images of American life during and after World War Two – soldiers, Boy Scouts, school children, mid-twentieth century family life, and, of course, Santa Claus. My family owns an entire set of Christmas ornaments featuring his Santas in a variety of scenes at rest, work, and play. We tend to think of Santa Claus as being timeless. He doesn’t really look much different on a 2015 Christmas card than he did in Thomas Nast’s nineteenth-century drawings, but I love the fact that Rockwell’s Santas are very much of their era in terms of fashion, setting, and overall aesthetic. They are also substantially more realistic and less “cartooney” than most other twentieth-century Santa Claus imagery.

I would be very interested to know what my non-American readers think of Norman Rockwell and his Santas. Do you enjoy his work at all, or is his appeal strictly American? Who are the popular Christmas artists in your country that I might not know about here?

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One thought on “December 12th: Santa with Elves by Norman Rockwell

  1. I remember Norman Rockwell scenes from my childhood in the sixties (I think). There was this German TV program magazine “Hör Zu” which featured his paintings on the cover. Of course I didn’t know of Norman Rockwell then, but recognized his style instantly when I saw it decades later.

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