Dec 15, 2022 - Sale 2625

Sale 2625 - Lot 89

Price Realized: $ 12,500
?Final Price Realized includes Buyer’s Premium added to Hammer Price
Estimate: $ 8,000 - $ 10,000

SAUL STEINBERG (1914-1999)

Santa at the door.

Design for a Christmas card for Hallmark Cards Inc., 1953. Ink, watercolor, and collage on paper. 368x293 mm; 14 1/2x11 1/2 inches. Signed "Steinberg" in ink, lower left. Tipped to window matte. A copy of the printed card accompanies the artwork. Additionally published on the cover of Literary Cavalcade. A Monthly for English Classes Published by Scholastic Magazines, Volume 8, Number 3. December 1955.
Provenance: Private collection, California.

From 1945 to 1951, Steinberg created a popular series of whimsical black-and-white holiday cards for New York's Museum of Modern Art. Soon after, in 1952, the greeting card giant Hallmark produced a series by famous artists and writers as part of their "Hall of Fame Collection." Besides Steinberg, notables included Grandma Moses, Winston Churchill, Norman Rockwell, Doris Lee, and the Rev. Norman Vincent Peale. The job was a lucrative one for Steinberg, paying $10,000 a year. The addition of color, a feature that the MoMA cards lacked, contributed to the charm of Steinberg's Hallmark designs. As described in the issue of Cavalcade, Steinberg felt "America's Santa was getting too set in his ways," with most depictions copying Thomas Nast's iconic St. Nick of the 1860s. Steinberg therefore created his "liberated Santas" - embodying magic, fantasy and as "free as the imagination."

Compared to the original artwork, which contains only Santa's bright red suit and bits of silver paper doily collage serving as architectural details, the collage details on the mass-produced printed card are gold, and there is both an additional green paper appliqué on the center tower window as well as extra watercolor detail in the porch tree and doorway.