I really like the visual aesthetic of early twentieth-century Christmases, as represented by shelter magazines from that era: cozy, warm and stylish–not so commercial. Colorful, but not glittery. People (or their servants) are making Christmas rather than buying it. House & Garden is probably the most stylish, but it was an evolution, as you will see below. I looked through 10+ years of Christmas covers from 1912 through the 1920s and saw the transformation of the Christmas home from somewhat-realistic refuge to a more idealistic showplace, a transition that seems to coincide with the coming of the First World War and is exemplified in the illustrations of Ethel Franklin Betts. The post-war Christmas spirit is a little bit more romantic and curatorial: the house is presented to us through a series of vignettes. It’s all a bit less accessible, except through all those beautifully-draped windows that allow us to peep inside, drawn by the light.
House & Garden Christmas covers from 1912-1922 (except the canopy bed, which is a November 1921 issue–I just loved it) accessed via the Online Books page at the University of Pennsylvania. Below is my very favorite cover, from 1925, and the inspiration for this post–a special “storybook” house in Salem, all lit up for Christmas.
December 16th, 2016 at 5:00 am
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December 16th, 2016 at 6:18 am
What a wonderful panoply of Yuletide settings! You are indeed an expert in digging out these digital images to support your themes. Don’t stop.
Merry Christmas …
December 16th, 2016 at 9:58 am
I loved that period of magazine covers. They are artworks in themselves. Nice article.
December 17th, 2016 at 8:57 am
I agree that magazine covers were artworks in their own right. I imagine that families who couldn’t afford original paintings for their walls might have been delighted to cut out attractive magazine covers, frame and hang them.
December 17th, 2016 at 10:06 am
I would love to see a photograph of that! Conde Nast sells all their past covers as posters and artwork now.
December 16th, 2016 at 11:02 am
Fabulous Donna! And this year we really need a little Christmas, just like the song says!
December 17th, 2016 at 12:57 pm
Yes we do! Merry Christmas to you!
December 16th, 2016 at 11:52 am
Charming! Every one! And so evocative of a special time and place. Nostalgia at its best, and makes me so homesick for a childhood in New England!