Jump to content

Claymont illustrator Darleys gift to Santa Claus: His image


Recommended Posts

  • Moderator

this is just down the street from where both my wife and mother grew up . . . 

Claymont illustrator Darleys gift to Santa Claus: His image

Delaware Public Media | By admin
Published December 23, 2012 at 11:23 PM EST

Thomas Nast is often mentioned as being one of the first illustrators to sketch the image popularly recognized as Santa Claus. But “Ray” Hester remembers the day he learned the identity of the very first illustrator to draw the Santa Claus we know and love today.


Claymont experts weigh in on F.O.C. Darley's version of what we now know as the modern depiction of the Christmas folk legend.

Hester says he thinks the revelation occurred several years ago, probably around 1995. As he was waiting to see a Christmastime exhibit at Winterthur, he noticed book illustrations of Christmas scenes on the wall by a 19th-century artist named Felix Darley.

A Winterthur guide happened to have a piece of paper in her pocket that contained information about the illustrations. The drawings were from a version of Clement Moore’s “A Visit From Saint Nicholas” with illustrations by Felix Octavius Carr Darley, once one of the most popular and prolific book illustrators in the country.

The guide told him Darley had drawn the first American Santa Claus. Hester had a one-word reaction: “What?”

This was exciting news to Hester since, at the time, he and his wife Judith were living in Darley’s house on 3701 Philadelphia Pike in Claymont. In 1991 they had been looking for historic houses in which they could operate a bed and breakfast. Darley’s house was boarded up and dilapidated, and the sellers assumed any new owner would tear it down. The Hesters were reluctant to consider the house, but the more they learned about Darley, the more fascinated they became.

Darley was born in Philadelphia in 1822, and settled in Claymont in 1859. The self-taught artist’s sophisticated and vivid illustrations appeared in books by many famous authors, including Harriet Beecher Stowe, Washington Irving, Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, Nathaniel Hawthorne, James Fenimore Cooper, and Charles Dickens, who is believed to have visited Darley while on a tour of America.

In 1862, the New York publisher James G. Gregory offered a high-end edition of the Clement Moore poem, “A Visit From Saint Nicholas,” with illustrations by Darley. Moore’s poem, first published anonymously in 1823 in a newspaper in Troy, New York, was hugely popular and fixed a verbal description in the public’s mind of what Saint Nicholas looked like.

For centuries, the various depictions of Saint Nicholas and other figures associated with Christmas had reflected the wide variety of European historical and mythic traditions that attached themselves to the holiday. Then came Darley’s version. In a 2007 article for the “National Review” about the holiday season of 1862, James S. Robbins said the season “saw an important cultural milestone, the emergence of the modern image of Santa Claus.” Darley’s Santa was “a plump man with a pipe, furry coat and pointed hat,” Robbins said.

Nast’s first Santa was published early in 1863, and he did many more versions in following years—some of which have become well known. But Darley’s was the first, and that alone makes him a highlight of Claymont’s history, according to Brett Saddler, executive director of the Claymont Renaissance Development Corporation, which, along with Claymont’s historical society and business association, is the steward of the state-owned Darley house.

“To think that one of the most recognizable cultural images in the world today was conceived here in Claymont is astonishing,” Saddler says. “Someday soon, we would like the Darley House to be a destination for those interested in this renowned artist’s work.”

Hester, having rescued Darley’s house from the wrecking ball, would also like to see the artist’s former fame restored to some degree. As a former DuPont engineer, Hester is retired now and living in South Carolina, but he and his wife would love to see Darley’s house preserved and his career better remembered.

“Darley was our life for 20 years,” he says.

This piece is made possible, in part, by a grant from the Delaware Division of the Arts, a state agency dedicated to nurturing and supporting the arts in Delaware, in partnership with the National Endowment for the Arts.

Source:  https://www.delawarepublic.org/2012-12-23/claymont-illustrator-darleys-gift-to-santa-claus-his-image


  • Like 7
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Thank you for this share!

  • Like 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Great post really enjoyed this one, thanks :) 

  • Like 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites


  • Days
  • Hours
  • Minutes
  • Seconds
  • Donations

    All donations go directly towards the cost of hosting and running ClausNet!

    Your support, through donations or simply by clicking on sponsor links, is greatly appreciated!

    Donate Sidebar by DevFuse
  • Our picks

    • How do You Portray Santa?
      Portraying Santa is acting; it is a characterization of a mythical character.

      Most of us never think of ourselves as actors, but we are. Certain characteristics of Santa Claus have been handed down from one generation to another. The way we dress and conduct ourselves all follow an established pattern.

      Santa Claus is one of the most recognizable characters throughout the world. This came about from the advertising campaign of the Coke Cola Company and the creative painting genius, of Haddon Sundblom. Coke Cola was looking to increase winter sales of its soft drink and hired Sundblom to produce illustrations for prominent magazines. These illustrations appeared during the holiday season from the late 1930s into the early 1970s and set the standard for how Santa should look.

      This characterization of Santa with rosy cheeks, a white beard, handlebar mustache plus a red costume trimmed in white fur is the image most everyone has in their minds. Unconsciously people are going to judge you against that image. If your beard isn’t white or you have a soiled suit it will register with the onlooker.

      By the way, the majority of Sundblom's paintings depict Santa with a Brown Belt and Brown Boots. Not until his later illustrations did he change the color to Black for these items. Within the past few years many costume companies have offered the Coke Cola Suit and it has become very popular. You can tell it by the large buttons and absence of fur down the front of the jacket.

      No matter how you portray Santa, be it home visits, schools, churches, parades, corporate events, malls, hospitals we all make an entrance and an impression! The initial impression we make determines if our client will ask us to return.

      The 5 Second Rule

      I have a theory: When you enter the presence of your audience you have about 5 seconds to make people believe you are the real Santa.
        • Thanks
        • Love
        • Like
      • 18 replies
    • If You Have the Post Christmas Blues You’re Doing Christmas Wrong
      The post-Christmas blues are a very real thing. Once the date of December 25th has passed the specter of December 26th is an ominous marker to many. It sits there on the calendar like the Ghost of Christmas Yet-to-Come. Silent and foreboding, the very image of the hooded Angel of Death it seems to be. And why not?

      Just about anywhere you look Americans are tossing trees to the curb, ripping down lights from rooftops and radio stations are flipping back to everyday music. What took months to build gets deconstructed in a matter of a couple of days.
        • Love
        • Like
      • 30 replies
    • Not Everyone Can Be Santa!
      Yes, I said it and it is not meant to hurt anyone’s feelings. I do view many Facebook sites along with websites and posted photos. Frankly, many of these postings should have never been put on public display.
        • Thanks
        • Love
        • Like
      • 10 replies
    • Auld Lang Syne
      Every New Year’s Eve at the stroke of midnight, millions around the world traditionally gather together to sing the same song, “Auld Lang Syne”. As revilers mumble though the song’s versus, it often brings many of them to tears – regardless of the fact that most don’t know or even understand the lyrics. Confusion over the song’s lyrics is almost as much of a tradition as the song itself. Of course that rarely stops anyone from joining in.
        • Wow
        • Thanks
        • Love
        • Like
      • 4 replies
    • Merry Christmas, My Friend
      Every year around this time, some variation of this poem is circulated online. The poem is generally credited to “a soldier stationed in Okinawa” or more recently since September 11, 2001, “a Marine stationed in Afghanistan”.

      However, the poem’s true author is Lance Corporal James M. Schmidt.

      Originally entitled, “Merry Christmas, My Friend”, Corporal Schmidt wrote the poem in 1986 while serving as Battalion Counter Sniper at the Marine Barracks 8th & I, in Washington, D.C.

      That day the poem was placed in the Marine Corps Gazette and distributed worldwide. Schmidt’s poem was later published in Leatherneck (Magazine of the Marines) in December 1991.
        • Sad
        • Love
        • Like
      • 1 reply
  • Create New...