A " US " belt slipped over Santa's arm and into this work by Thomas Nast succeeds is one of our indications the war and those who fought were Nast's subjects. He somehow managed to combine war with hope or at least let us know hope hadn't fled. Magic and Christmas was out there somewhere.
This. Section from Nast's famous contribution to Christmas at war, 1863.
From Nast's famous Harper's cover, 1863. Only Nast could reach into country at war and come up with this. He's been accused of romanticizing the war- I disagree. He was dragging hope out of all the blood, mud and death. And reminded us of that, too.
Blown up, vignettes from war's realities surround his portrayals of family Christmas- these are from " Furlough ". Main image below is a soldier returning to his family for the holiday.
Whose children Santa had visited. It's a wonderful piece, war and the next generation watched over by Christmas himself.
When even those flatly uninterested in the ACW are familiar with an ACW themed piece of artwork, it means they've succeeded beyond the scope of 99.99999999% of us. Thomas Nast's uber famous, beyond delightful contribution to Harper's December issue cover may be a wildly unrealistic portrayal of Christmas in Camp. It's still delightful. Besides, he also left us less delightful, always poignant and fairly well known portrayals of Christmas at war. Quite a few all together.
Guessing this won't have the effect in 2019 Nast intended. Which was Peace. On Earth. Goodwill To All Men. You don't have to be religious to say Amen to that. " President Lincoln invites Southern leaders to a place at the table ". 150 years later Lincoln for some reason remains a swear word, seems to me everyone's still peering around the door.
There's a public access book that glued together all Thomas Nast's work devoted to Christmas.
" But the artist's hand is never happier than when, with the lambent light of the same humor, it irradiates the play of domestic affection, and makes the home circle gay. It is the bluff, honest Santa Claus of "The Night before Christmas;" the Santa Claus of the reindeer and the sleigh, alighting on the snowy roof, and descending the chimney with his wondrous pack of treasures; the Santa Claus of unsuspecting childhood, and the Mother Goose of undoubting infancy, to whom these pages introduce us. There is no child who cannot understand them, no parent who cannot enjoy them. Mr.- Nast is fairly without a rival in this kind. His Santa Claus is old Father Christmas himself, and his welcome will be as general and as hearty as that which salutes the crammed and enchanted stocking on Christmas morning. "
Snip from the book. Never did we need Nast's work than those years spanning Christmas's in a country at war with itself.
Posting a Nast war image a day for the next two weeks. Not the huge spreads he left us, they should be savored like a good piece of gingerbread. One crumb of comfort at a time.