Tuesday, June 26, 2012


Thomas Nast was a German immigrant to America. He started to work for Frank Leslie’s Illustrated Newspaper at a young age. In 1855 photographs could not be inserted into printed material so woodcuts, which were taken from pen and ink illustrations, were needed. At first Nast just illustrated stories, but soon he started creating political cartoons. Nast created the elephant and the donkey as symbols of the Republican and Democratic parties. Nast also helped bring down a corrupt New York City government. But Nast also drew yearly Christmas illustrations for Frank Leslie’s and other papers. These drawings are less well known than his Boss Tweed illustrations. But Nast deserves some credit for our modern interpretation of Santa Claus.

Nast was the first artist to illustrate The Night Before Christmas by Clement C. Moore. After he worked on that poem his Santa resembled the man in the poem. Since the poem and the artwork were so influential they became our modern interpretation of Santa Claus: a chubby, jolly man with a fur cap and flowing white hair. He delivers toys on Christmas Eve with the help of 8 flying reindeer.

I will be posting several Thomas Nast Christmas Cartoons over the next few posts.

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