Merry Christmas by Viggo Johansen, 1891. [public domain] via Wikimedia Commons.
In this painting by Danish artist Viggo Johansen (1851-1935), a family holds hands and dances merrily around the Christmas tree. Painted in 1891, this scene takes place several decades after the last Christmas genre painting I featured, and you can see how the Christmas tree is starting to look like it does today. What I love about this painting is the effect of the tree’s lights illuminating an otherwise-darkened room. The lights on my Christmas tree are electric, not candles, but they provide the exact same magical effect when I turn off the lights. I’ve looked at my tree that exact same way every year for as long as I can remember. I think the ambient darkness in this painting makes it a perfect choice for the winter solstice, too.