Some Old-Fashioned Christmas Paintings and Christmas Pictures for Art Lovers This Holiday
Carl Larsson and His Model Family
The Christmas holiday is a special, magical time of year, and the images in art that best conjure up that warm, cosy feeling of anticipation and celebration are often those that have been around a long time and have somehow imprinted themselves on our sub-conscious. Carl Larsson's wonderful illustrations offer some of the best known and best-loved images of childhood, and this watercolour drawing of Carl Larsson's daughter Brita dressed for the Christmas holiday is no exception. It was designed for the title page of the 1901 Christmas edition of 'Idun', and is an engaging example of Larsson's joy-filled, cheerful art.
Brita was the fifth child of Carl Larsson, and she and her six siblings frequently featured in his paintings and illustrations.
Dressed Up For Christmas by Kate Greenaway
Dressed Up For Christmas by Kate Greenaway
Kate Greenaway (1846–1901) created many similar sweet images of young children during her career as an illustrator in Victorian England. This is a particularly nice example of her work, and it was produced in watercolour over pencil, with some traces of gouache or bodycolour.
'Decorating the Christmas Tree' by Marcel Rieder, 1898
Christmas in America by Alphonse Mucha (1919)
Mucha's Christmas in America
The famous Art Nouveau artist, Alphonse Mucha, visited America on seven separate occasions, and this painting dates from his final trip. The young woman in the painting is holding a 'Christingle' apple together with a candle and nuts, an old European tradition symbolising the Christian Christmas story. This picture shares the same symbolism as Carl Larssens's painting of his daughter Brita at the top of this article.
Mucha has given his model a chaplet of evergreens to decorate her hair, heralding the promise of nature's renewal after the hardship of Winter.
The Angel by Edward Burne-Jones
Burne-Jones's Breathtaking Pre-Raphaelite Angel
Edward Coley Burne-Jones painted many Angels, and this beautiful example is typical of his style. Willowy, ethereal women often featured in his work, and the far away look in their eyes evokes a feeling of mystery, and sometimes sadness.
This painting of an angel was executed in oil on board and may be seen in the Glasgow Museum of Art in Scotland.
Christmas morning 1894 by Carl Larsson
A Swedish Family Christmas
This painting from 1894 features five of the Larsson children at play with their holiday gifts. The interiors in Larsson's work are all based on his own home, and they have a distinctive Swedish feel to them.
The children seem very pleased with their new toys!
Under the Christmas Tree by Franz Skarbina 1892
An Impressionistic Christmas
What a gorgeously Impressionistic work this is! Franz Skarbina's evocative work was painted in 1892 and hangs in the Stiftung Stadtmuseum in Berlin. The seated dollies certainly have a fine view of the candle-lit tree, and the subtle lights reflect beautifully on the little girl's white dress, as she shows off the tabletop nativity scene to the baby.
The Shepherds Adoration of the New-Born Baby Jesus
Beautiful Crib Scene by Murillo
Bartolome Murillo painted this moving crib scene in the 17th century. Mary shows her new-born son to the admiring shepherds. Very gently she supports her son, and the tender expression on her face is tinged with awe as though she is already anticipating great things from him.
The Christmas Tree by Albert Chevallier Tayler, 1911
The Christmas Tree by Albert Chevallier Tayler
Albert Chevallier Tayler (1862–1925) was an English artist who had a long association with the Newlyn School of artists, a group of artists who lived and worked in and around Newlyn in Cornwall. He went on to become a member of the Royal Academy of artists, and is best known for his paintings of cricketers. This sweet painting of a family gathered around the candle-lit Christmas Tree, is not necessarily typical of his work, but it does show off his skillful use of subtle lighting, and has a genuinely happy feel about it.
Early Russian Christmas Card
A Christmas Story by Viggo Johansen
'Christmas Morning' by Joseph Clarke
Joseph Clark: Painter of Family Life
Joseph Clark (1834–1926) was a Victorian artist, born in England, near Dorchester, Dorset. He studied painting in London under J. M. Leigh (1808–1860), and went on to enjoy considerable success as a painter of genre pictures, depicting domestic scenes, and images of family life. Clark specialised in tender images of children at play, but he also painted a small number of biblical subjects. At the age of twenty three, in 1857, he exhibited his first painting at the Royal Academy in London, and his popular images continued to grace the annual exhibition for almost every one of the next 47 years.
The Buderus Children at Christmas
Family Life in the 19th Century
Ludwig Von Rössler (1842–1910) was a German artist who specialised in painting scenes of everyday life. This style of painting was fashionable throughout Northern Europe at this time. people enjoyed art that told a story. The family in the picture are shown enjoying the holiday fun. It is an informal portrait of three small children, and it invites the viewer to share the merriment.
The Meeting of the Magi
From Les Tres Riches Heures du Duc De Berry
The fantastically detailed illustrations commissioned from the Limbourg brothers in the 15th century by Jean, Duc de Berry are famous for their jewel bright colours and high quality draftsmanship. Here we see the Magi coming together before setting off on their quest to find the Christ child.
The Shortening Winter's Day by David Farquarson
Check your Christmas Cards, You May Have One of These!
David Farquarson was a nineteenth-century artist with a great knack for painting stunning winter landscapes. 'The Shortening Winter's Day Draws to a Close', is probably the best example. I read recently that it is the most popular painting ever to feature on a Christmas card, so I'm sure you'll have seen it before!
Weihnachtsmarkt Berlin 1892
The Christmas Market, Berlin by Franz Skarbina
Painted in 1892, this incredibly detailed water colour beautifully evokes the bustling Christmas market on a cold and wintry day in Berlin. The picture is 87 x 115cm in size, and shows great artistic skill to have achieved so much precision in such a difficult medium.
A Winter's Day by Paul Gustave Fischer
A Winter's Day on Kongens Nytorv Copenhagen
The imposing woman wrapped in her furs stares at us out of the picture plane as though captured in a frozen instant going about her business on this cold, icy day. The influence of photography is evident in the composition, as it is in many works of art from the late 19th century. The blinkered horse with it's face in a nose bag hints at a continuation beyond the picture frame. In the distance a bus waits to collect passengers, and it's cheery red paintwork provides a splash of colour to liven up the wintry landscape.
A Christmas Party by George Henry Durrie, 1852
A Christmas Party: Fun in the Snow
This glorious scene of fun and frolics in a snowy landscape was painted in 1852 by George Henry Durrie (1820–1863), and is now on display at the Thomas Gilcrease Institute of American History and Art in Tulsa, Oklahoma. Durrie was primarily a landscape artist, who specialised in rural genre scenes and wintry scenes such as this one, all based around New England.
Christmas Eve 1904 by Carl Larsson
Christmas Eve in the Larsson House 1904
Carl Larsson and his wife Karin lived in a house called Lilla Hyttnas in Sundborn in Sweden. They had eight children altogether, although, sadly, one of their babies only survived two months, and their son Ulf also died early, aged only eighteen. The family and family life were Carl Larsson's constant joy and inspiration, and the interior seen in this painting is a fine example. The food on the table, the blazing fire, the candles, his daughters with their neatly braided hair, all lovingly detailed.
The little house in Sundborn is still owned by the Larsson family and is open to visitors each summer.
Vorweinacht: Father and Son Choosing the Christmas Tree
Choosing the Christmas Tree
Christmas trees were a traditional part of German celebrations long before the idea spread to the rest of Europe in the 19th century. The little lad in this painting, has ventured out with his father to choose a tree which they will drag home on his sled. The woods are deep with snow, but the two foragers are warmly wrapped, and intent on the task in hand.
Franz Kruger painted this festive scene in the 19th century. Kruger was a German artist who was born in Dessau in 1797, and died in Berlin in 1857. Better known for his many portraits of German royals and aristocracy, Kruger was, nonetheless, a competent landscape artist and genre painter, as we can see here, in this old-fashioned Christmas holiday scene.
A Happy Christmas by Viggo Johansen, 1891
Dancing Round the Candlelit Tree
Dancing around a beautifully decked out Christmas Tree lit by dozens of twinkling candles, the children in Johansen Viggo's painting seem to be having a lot of fun. Painted in 1891, Viggo has perfectly captured a joyful family scene that gives us a glimpse into family life at the end of the nineteenth century.
Viggo Johansen (1851–1935) was a Danish artist who painted with the Skagen Painters, a group who met each year in the north of Jutland. Viggo exhibited in Paris from 1885, and he was greatly influenced by the work of the Impressionists, particularly that of Claude Monet. This influence is very apparent in much of his work from this period.
© 2008 Amanda Severn