Christmas Pleasures

Viggo Johansen, Merry Christmas, 1891

Viggo Johansen, Merry Christmas, 1891

With Christmas almost here, I’d like to share a couple of my favorite Christmas paintings. I love them for the gentle atmosphere they create, the sense of pleasure and anticipation I find in them.

The first is Viggo Johannsen’s painting of Christmas Eve festivities at home in Denmark in 1891.

The family is dancing around a tree lit with candles and decorated with home-made decorations. They hold hands and sing as they wait for the arrival of the Julemanden, the Christmas Man, and his sack of gifts. They have already been to church, eaten a festive dinner, had the Christmas story read.

The glow from the candles lights up the tree and reflects softly off the room’s walls. We glimpse furniture, vases, paintings, a bust. The children’s faces glow in the candlelight as they gaze at the tree.

It is a family time.  Everyone is involved, engaged, younger and older enjoying themselves together.

Carl Larsson, Christmas Morning, 1894

Carl Larsson, Christmas Morning, 1894

The second is Carl Larsson’s painting of Christmas Morning in Sweden, in 1894.  In it he shares the pleasure children find in gifts well given.

These children are playing with the presents they received on Christmas Eve – a pair of skates, a model ship, a sword and helmet, a doll, a book, a pail filled with small objects. The candles on their Christmas wreath are lit; we glimpse the Christmas tree, quiet and unlit now, in the background.

Each child is absorbed in what they are doing. Imagining, anticipating, playing – you can see their happiness.

It’s the happiness in these paintings that draws me in, and a sense of unspoiled pleasures.

I hope you enjoy them too.

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