Imagine a western Christmas with no jolly man in a red suit ho ho ho-ing at us in every window and at every Christmas Carols event! We owe our modern day interpretation of Santa Claus to the magical artistry of Haddon Sundblom.....never heard of him? (especially my Australian counterparts)? Well, you are sure to have seen his images gracing countless Coke Christmas advertisements at Christmas time over the years......let me tell you a little about this inspiring artist.........
Haddon was born in Michigan in 1899. His family was a mix of Swedish and Russian in heritage, and Haddon was first generation American. He studied at the American Institute of Art and began painting advertisements for the Coke a cola company in the 1930's.
It was at this time that he turned to the 1822 poem "The night before Christmas' for inspiration for a Christmas advertisement, creating his interpretation of 'jolly old St Nick'. Sundblom based the rosey faced, beaming Santa on himself, and fitted his atire and merriment to the poetic description. For the next 33 years, he painted many many portraits of Santa that have etched themselves into popular culture.
Haddon was also a revered glamour and pin up artist, inspiring the likes of Gil Elvgren and Joyce Ballentine.His many stunning vintage pin up images were used in advertising, calandars and Playboy magazine. Haddon passed away in 1976 leaving what would have to be the most recognisable image in all popular culture, Santa Claus himself