Thomas Nast (1840-1902)

Thomas Nast – circa 1870s

Thomas Nast was an illustrator and cartoonist for Harper’s Weekly. In his 30 year career with the magazine (1857-1887) Nast drew approximately 2,250 cartoons.

From 1863 through 1886 he contributed 33 Christmas drawings to Harper’s Weekly. In those drawings he created and popularized the modern image of Santa Claus.

Merry Old Santa Claus by Thomas Nast
Harper’s Weekly January 1, 1881

Nast is also widely credited for exposing the corruption of William M. Tweed who ran New York City’s Democratic political machine at Tammany Hall. When Nast died in 1902 the New York Times eulogized him as the Father of the American Political Cartoon.

Harper’s Weekly, January 6, 1872

Harper’s Weekly, August 19, 1981

Harper’s Weekly, December 25, 1981

The following video from Ric Burns’ epic documentary of New York spotlights how Thomas Nast’s pen took down Boss Tweed.


Thomas Nast drawings were printed using wood engravings. Here’s a short video of artisan Chris Wormell showing how it’s done.


Thomas Nast at his Desk circa 1880 – From the Museum of the City of New York. 

Portrait of Thomas Nast, 1902.
Pirie MacDonald Photograph Collection New York Historical Society.

For more on Thomas Nast I recommend the following links.

ThomasNastCartoons.com

A Salute to the Man Who Created Santa

Thomas Nast Takes Down Tammany

Thomas Nast: Father of the American Political Cartoon

Macculloch Hall Historical Museum

About Jim Keefe

Jim Keefe is the current artist of the Sally Forth comic strip, he is also the writer and artist of the Flash Gordon comic strip - both available at ComicsKingdom.com. A graduate of the Joe Kubert School, Keefe likewise teaches Comic Art. Teaching and speaking engagements include SVA in Manhattan, Hofstra’s UCCE Youth Programs, The University of Minnesota and most recently the Minneapolis College of Art and Design.
This entry was posted in Artist Spotlight, Thomas Nast and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.