Friday, December 23, 2016

Christmas by Carl Larsson (Swedish painter, 1853-1919)

Carl Larsson (Swedish painter, 1853-1919) Christmas Tree Confetti

Carl Larsson (Swedish painter, 1853-1919) Between Christmas and New Aсo 1896

Carl Larsson (Swedish painter, 1853-1919) Brita as Iduna (Iðunn), title page for the Christmas edition of Idun, 1901

Carl Larsson (Swedish painter, 1853-1919) Christmas Morning 1894

Carl Larsson (Swedish painter, 1853-1919) Now it is Christmas again

Carl Larsson (Swedish painter, 1853-1919) Christmas Eve - 1906

Carl Larsson (Swedish painter, 1853-1919) The Day before Christmas

Images of a few US Christmas Traditions

George H. Yewell (American artist, 1830-1923) Christmas Eve 1863

Robert David Wilkie (American artist, 1827-1903) The Christmas Party 1850

Alice Barber Stephens (American artist, 1858-1932) Christmas on 5th Avenue 1896

Fern Bisel Peat (American Illustrator, 1893 -1971) The Night Before Christmas 1932 He whistled, and shouted, and called them by name

Julian Alden Weir (American artist, 1852-1919)  The Christmas Tree 1890

Samuel S. Carr (American artist, 1837–1908)  Christmas Eve along the Hudson with the Palisades across the River

Fern Bisel Peat (American Illustrator, 1893 -1971) The Night Before Christmas 1932 His droll little mouth was drawn up like a bow

Henry Mosler (American artist, 1841-1920) Christmas Morning 1916

George Henry Durrie (American artist, 1820–1863) A Christmas Party 1852

Fern Bisel Peat (American Illustrator, 1893 -1971) The Night Before Christmas 1932 His clothes were all tarnished with ashes and soot

Harry Roseland (American painter, 1867-1950) Christmas Morning 1915

Frederick Childe Hassam (American artist, 1859-1935) Street Scene Christmas Morning

Fern Bisel Peat (American Illustrator, 1893 -1971) The Night Before Christmas 1932 And he spake not a word, but went straight to his work

Edmund Restein (American artist, 1837–1891) Christmas Eve

Alden Finney Brooks (American artist, 1840–1932) Child with Christmas Card

Henry Bacon (American artist, 1839-1912) Christmas Prayers 1872 

Eugenie M. Wireman (American artist) Christmas Morning

Eleazer Hutchinson Miller (American artist, 1831–1921) Selling Christmas Greens

William James Glackens (American artist, 1870-1938) Christmas Shoppers  1912
William James Glackens (American artist, 1870-1938) Merry Christmas 1910

Horace Pippin (American artist, 1888-1946]  Christmas Morning Breakfast 1945

Christmas Carols

Laura Theresa Alma-Tadema (English artist, 1852-1909) A Carol

Text here from

Christmas songs - the oldest ones are the best
BBC History Magazine - Monday 9th December 2013

"Christmas carols were mostly a Victorian tradition along with trees, crackers and cards. Eugene Byrne explains the why the popularity of Silent Night has never faded, why there’s always a place for Hark! The Herald Angels Sing, and why the British fondness of Good King Wenceslas has not yet subsided.

In England - Carolers-Yorshire

"Although Christmas was celebrated in song in the Middle Ages, most carols in use now are less than 200 years old. Only a handful, such as I Saw Three Ships or the decidedly pagan-sounding The Holly and the Ivy, remind us of more ancient yuletides. Carols fell from favour in England after the Reformation because of their frivolity and were rarely sung in churches until the 1880s when EW  Benson, Bishop of Truro (later Archbishop of Canterbury) drew up the format for the Nine Lessons and Carols service, which has remained in use ever since.

 In England - Carol singing at Hampton Court Palace from The Graphic, London

"Silent Night (1818)

"Words: Josef Mohr - Music: Franz Xaver Gruber

"Arguably the world’s most popular Christmas carol comes in several different translations from the German original. It started out as a poem by the Austrian Catholic priest Father Josef Mohr in 1816. Two years later, Mohr was curate at the parish church of St Nicola in Oberndorf when he asked the organist and local schoolteacher Franz Xaver Gruber to put music to his words.

"An unreliable legend has it that the church organ had been damaged by mice, but whatever the reason, Gruber wrote it to be performed by two voices and guitar. It was first performed at midnight mass on Christmas Eve 1818, with Mohr and Gruber themselves taking the solo voice roles.

"Its fame eventually spread (allegedly it has been translated into over 300 languages and dialects) and it famously played a key role in the unofficial truce in the trenches in 1914 because it was one of the only carols that both British and German soldiers knew.

In England - Children in Yorkshire, carrying greenery as symbols of rebirth, go from house to house singing carols in the tradition of wassail for food, drink and sometimes small coins.

"Good King Wenceslas (1853 or earlier)

"Words: John Mason Neale - Music: Traditional, Scandinavian

"The Reverend Doctor Neale was a high Anglican whose career was blighted by suspicion that he was a crypto-Catholic, so as warden of Sackville College – an almshouse in East Grinstead – he had plenty of time for study and composition. Most authorities deride his words as “horrible”, “doggerel” or “meaningless”, but it has withstood the test of time. The tune came from a Scandinavian song that Neale found in a rare medieval book that had been sent to him by a friend who was British ambassador in Stockholm.

"There really was a Wenceslas – Vaclav in Czech – although he was Duke of Bohemia, rather than a king. Wenceslas (907–935) was a pious Christian who was murdered by his pagan brother Boleslav; after his death a huge number of myths and stories gathered around him. Neale borrowed one legend to deliver a classically Victorian message about the importance of being both merry and charitable at Christmas. Neale also wrote two other Christmas favourites: O Come, O Come Emmanuel (1851) and Good Christian Men, Rejoice (1853).

In England - Country Carol Singers Thomas Kibble Hervey's (1799-1859) Christmas Book with illustrations by Robert Seymour (1798-1836)  1836

"Hark! The Herald Angels Sing (1739 or earlier)

"Words: Charles Wesley - Music: Felix Mendelssohn
"Charles, the brother of Methodist founder John Wesley, penned as many as 9,000 hymns and poems, of which this is one of his best-known. It was said to be inspired by the sounds of the bells as he walked to church one Christmas morning and has been through several changes. It was originally entitled Hark How All the Welkin Rings – welkin being an old word meaning sky or heaven.

"As with most of his hymns, Wesley did not stipulate which tune it should be sung to, except to say that it should be “solemn”. The modern version came about when organist William Hayman Cummings adopted it to a tune by German composer Felix Mendelssohn in the 1850s. Mendelssohn had stipulated that the music, which he had written to celebrate the 400th anniversary of the invention of the printing press and which he described as “soldier-like and buxom”, should never be used for religious purposes.

In England - Mummers Thomas Kibble Hervey's (1799-1859) Christmas Book with illustrations by Robert Seymour (1798-1836)  1836

"God rest you merry, Gentlemen"
Origin unknown

"This is thought to have originated in London in the 16th or 17th centuries before running to several different versions with different tunes all over England. The most familiar melody dates back to at least the 1650s when it appeared in a book of dancing tunes. It was certainly one of the Victorians’ favourites.

"If you want to impress people with your knowledge (or pedantry), then point out to them that the comma is placed after the “merry” in the first line because the song is enjoining the gentlemen (possibly meaning the shepherds abiding in the fields) to be merry because of Christ’s birthday. It’s not telling “merry gentlemen” to rest!"

In England - London Carol Singers Thomas Kibble Hervey's (1799-1859) Christmas Book with illustrations by Robert Seymour (1798-1836) 1836

In England - Thomas Kibble Hervey's (1799-1859) Christmas Book with illustrations by Robert Seymour (1798-1836) 

In England - Christmas Mummers 1861

Morning Madonna

Unknown Master, Flemish (late 15C in Brussels) Virgin and Child crowned by 2 Angels

In this blog, I try to begin each day with a painting of the Madonna & Child. It centers me; connects me to the past; & encourages me to post some of the religious paintings which were a large part of the core of early Western art.  In the 4C, as the Christian population was rapidly growing & was now supported by the state, Christian art evolved & became grander to suit new, enlarged public spaces & the changing contemporary tastes of elite private clients.