But who was the model for our jolly, very human image of Santa?
In the beginning, Sundblom painted Santa Claus using a live model -- his friend, Lou Prentiss, a retired salesman. When Prentiss passed away, Sundblom used himself as a model, painting by looking into a mirror. After the 1930s, he used photographs instead of his own image.
One year, Santa’s large belt was shown backwards in Coke ads. (Rumor has it, it was because Sundblom was painting while looking in a mirror, and painted the belt in reverse.) People loved the
But Santa wasn’t the only image requiring a model.
The children who sometimes appeared with Santa Claus were based on Sundblom’s neighbors in Arizona. Although the two children living next door were both girls, the artist simply changed one to a boy in his paintings!
And the 1964 Santa Claus image I’ve shown here -- the last original artwork Sundblom created for
That’s what we would call “artistic license” today!
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