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Saint Nicholas

Object Name: Genre
Date: 1837
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Medium: Oil on wood panel
Dimensions: Overall: 30 x 25 3/8 in. ( 76.2 x 64.5 cm ) Framed: 34 7/8 × 29 1/2 × 2 1/2 in. (88.6 × 74.9 × 6.4 cm)
Description: A small dwarf-like Santa Claus with white moustache and eyebrows retreats, laughing, into a fireplace looking back over his right shoulder, his right arm extended, his left hand raised near his face; he wears a short red cape lined with white fur, its hood over his head, a white clay pipe attached to its front; he wears a brown jacket with dark piping under the cape and brown pants tucked into loose brown knee-high leather boots; a set of black rosary beads suspended from his belt under his cape; on his back he carries a rattan satchel overflowing with toys; the blue-tiled fireplace hung with three stockings; fire tools on either side of hearth; and iron in the form of crouching men supporting brass balls, a brass kettle on stand at lower right of fireplace; on the floor a partially peeled and cut orange and a broken clay pipe; to the right a pewter flagon, an armchair and a pair of men's black slippers with red bows; at lower left an overturned stool; over the mantle a large coat-of arms.
Credit Line: Gift of George A. Zabriskie
Object Number: 1951.76
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Inscribed: Initials of the artist's sons are on the stockings: W.W. [Walter Weir] and R.W. [Robert Weir]

Bibliography:

Gallati, Barbara Dayer, "American Genre painting and the Rise of 'Average Taste,'" The Magazine Antiques, November/December, 2011, pp. 134-141.

Exhibitions:

Great Hall holiday showing, New-York Historical Society, December 1996–January 1997; December 1997–January 1998, December 2001–January 2002.

Dexter Hall holiday showing, New-York Historical Society, December 2003–January 2004.

"The World of Asher B. Durand: The Artist in Antebellum New York," New-York Historical Society, March 13-September 30, 2007.

"It Happened Here: The Invention of Santa Claus," New-York Historical Society, November 24, 2009–January 7, 2010.

"Making American Taste: Narrative Art for a New Democracy," New-York Historical Society, November 11, 2011–September 9, 2012; Taft Museum of Art, Cincinnati, OH, September 20, 2013–January 12, 2014; Taubman Museum of Art, Roanoke, VA, February 13, 2014–May 19, 2014; Frist Center for the Visual Arts, Nashville, TN, February 27, 2015–June 7, 2015; Westmoreland Museum of American Art, Greensburg, PA, March 5, 2016–June 19, 2016.

"The Works: Salon Style at the New-York Historical Society," New-York Historical Society, June 20, 2014–February 8, 2015.