In this painting by Danish artist Viggo Johansen (1851-1935), a family holds hands and dances merrily around the Christmas tree. Painted in 1891, this scene takes place several decades after the last Christmas genre painting I featured, and you can see how the Christmas tree is starting to look like it does today. What I love about this painting is the effect of the tree’s lights illuminating an otherwise-darkened room. The lights on my Christmas tree are electric, not candles, but they provide the exact same magical effect when I turn off the lights. I’ve looked at my tree that exact same way every year for as long as I can remember. I think the ambient darkness in this painting makes it a perfect choice for the winter solstice, too.
Alexandra Kiely, aka A Scholarly Skater, is an art historian based in the northeastern United States. She loves wandering down the dark and dusty corners of art history and wholeheartedly believes in visual art's ability to enrich every person's life.
Her favorite periods of art history are 19th-century American painting and medieval European art and architecture. When she not looking at, reading about, writing about, or teaching art, she's probably ice dancing or reading.
View all posts by Alexandra Kiely (A Scholarly Skater)
6 thoughts on “December 21st: Merry Christmas by Viggo Johansen”
Do you know where this painting is? Is it in a museum somewhere, or in a private collection? Thanks.
Hi Yuen! This painting is at The Hirschsprung Collection, a museum in Copenhagen, Denmark. (https://www.hirschsprung.dk/en/)
I didn’t realize I had left the museum’s name out of the image caption, and I’m glad you brought that to my attention. Thanks for stopping by!
Thank you! I was searching the internet and couldn’t find it anywhere. Excellent.
No problem! The painting has two possible titles, “Merry Christmas” and “Silent Night”, which may have been why you couldn’t find it.
Excellent website, by the way.
Thank you! I’m so glad you’re enjoying it!