Christmas-Time, The Blodgett Family by Eastman Johnson, 1864. The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York. Photo from metmuseum.org via The Met’s Open Access for Scholarly Content (OASC) initiative.

It’s very difficult to find genre paintings (scenes of everyday life) with Christmas settings. I assume that’s because the Christmas traditions we are familiar with today have only come into being relatively recently when compared with the entire the history of art. I had pretty much given up and stopped looking for such a painting by sometime around December 10th; I found this beautiful piece completely by accident today. Eastman Johnson (1824-1906) was a versatile American artist who painted everything from society portraits or images of Native American and slaves. He was also one of the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s founders. It this 1864 work, Johnson depicts the wealthy Blodgett family celebrating Christmas in their beautiful Renaissance Revival New York home (1).

(1) “Christmas-Time, The Blodgett Family” in “The Collection Online”. Metropolitan Museum of Art website. Accessed December 19, 2015.