c1850 by unknown
The Bridgeman Art Library
This jolly Father Christmas is an image taken from a Victorian Christmas card, most probably the early twentieth century. The first ever Christmas card was commissioned by Sir Henry Cole in 1843 featuring a picture of a festive family, though it proved a little controversial due to the fact that the children were drinking wine. Extremely fashionable in the Victorian times, Christmas cards rarely featured religious scenes but instead magical figures, such as fairies or Father Christmas — and here we have no exception. Jolly with rosy cheeks as round as cherries, Father Christmas is a bumbling bundle of joy — fatly rotund and ringing his jingle bell of Christmas. With a full white beard curling widely about his face, indistinguishable from his collar, he is softly padded and textured with fur and velvet — an inviting beacon of warmth in the idealised chill of a white Christmas. With sleigh bells tied to his coat, one can almost hear his bells as well as seeing them. Father Christmas proves his lasting effect, featuring on the face of a contemporary Christmas card today over one hundred years later.