NORTH NEWTON, KAN. - Holiday celebrations from the Victorian era are brought to life in "Scenes of Christmas," a new special exhibition at Kauffman Museum on the Bethel College campus in North Newton. The exhibition, which opens Nov. 24 and runs through Jan. 19, 2003, features American newspaper illustrations from 1857 to 1902 from the collection of Dale and Rosie Horst of rural Goessel. Illustrations of Christmas feasts, sleigh rides and Santa Claus are complemented by three scenes of Victorian artifacts from the permanent collection of Kauffman Museum. Guest curators Dale and Rosie Horst will be present for the opening reception at 3:30 p.m., Sunday, Nov. 24. Regular hours for the exhibition are 9:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Tuesday through Friday and 1:30 to 4:30 p.m. on weekends. The museum will be open from 9:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. on Tuesday, Dec. 24 and closed on Christmas Day and New Year’s Day.
The Christmas scenes from the Golden Age of Illustration were printed in American periodicals such as "Leslie’s Weekly Illustrated Newspaper" and "Harper’s Weekly." These papers featured the work of political cartoonist Thomas Nast, who is credited with introducing the image of a jolly Santa Claus, and American painter Winslow Homer, as well as less known illustrators such as Frederick Stuart Church.
"We first got to know Church through his wonderful Christmas images," said Dale Horst. An example of Church’s work is the holly-crowned woman serving Christmas pudding to three bears from the Christmas 1884 cover of "Harper’s Weekly." "Even amongst his contemporaries, Church stands out for his fanciful imagination and unique style," Horst said.
"Scenes of Christmas" provides a nostalgic journey through Victorian holiday traditions. Rosie Horst commented on her favorite illustration of ladies stirring a Christmas pudding. "Since home photographs were rare 125 years ago, these illustrations are a really good way to look at the past," she said. "The images are exquisite portraits that go way beyond everyday newspaper illustrations."