The vavarian born artist Thomas Nast's cartoons of the Tammany Tiger, Uncle Sam, and other iconic figures have become part of the popular imagination. An artist and engraver, Nast drew regularly on political subjects for the national periodical Harper's Weekly. His Santa Claus, which reflects German ideas about the old man, appeared first in 1863, and was gradually refined into the image we know today - the basis of the ubiquitous jolly figure used to market everything from soft drinks to lingerie.
This image of Santa distributing gifts to Union soldiers in the midst of the Civil War marks the initial appearance in print of a Nast Santa. The image was intended to evoke powerful feelings on the home front.
New-York Historical Society Library
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