Monday, 1 December 2014

It's Christmas ! (If You Want It)

So apparently yesterday was actually the first day of Advent (traditionally the fourth Sunday preceding December 25 ) but here at York Art Society we firmly believe in keeping the tinsel under wraps and our calender doors firmly closed until December 1st at the earliest.

Kicking off a month long trawl through seasonal imagery, we thought we'd start with what is alleged to be the very first commercial Christmas card ever sent.

The illustration shown above is by John Callcott Horsley and appeared on cards commissioned by Sir Henry Cole in 1843.  Quintessentially British,the central image manges to avoid any religious references and instead depicts three generations of a family knocking back copious amounts of wine, while the side panels show a few scraps being thrown to the poor. Or maybe that's just my reading of it.

Cole produced over 2,000 of these cards for Christmas 1843, selling them for a shilling each (that's 5 new pence for our younger readers).  More recently, one of the dozen or so known to survive from that batch, a card sent by Sir Henry to his grandmother, was sold at auction for over £22,000.  (and you can read about that here)

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