December 6, 2017
Julian Alden Weir (1852-1919), Christmas Greens (IV/V), etching and drypoint, 7 7/8 x 6 inches. Brigham Young University Museum of Art, purchase/gift of the Mahonri M. Young Estate, 1959.
Today is St. Nicholas Day, named for the Greek Bishop, Nikolaos of Myra, who died at age 73 in 343, before he became the prototype for the modern Santa Claus. In this etching, Weir portrays his wife Anna assembling a Christmas wreath while their daughter watches intently, absorbing the lesson and on point to supply another sprig of greenery. Anna is silhouetted against a sheer, luminous drapery. The Weirs lived a comfortable lifestyle with treasured family traditions, like making wreaths, that Anna could pass on to her daughter.
Weir took up etching between 1887 and 1893, before Anna’s death. She was a frequent model for these small works. He chose for subjects the objects, places, and people he loved. Largely a self-taught etcher, Weir produced a remarkable number of prints. The etched lines and cross hatchings in this work create a highly finished study of varied tones.