Haddon Sundblom


Playboy magazine December 1972 cover featuring the last illustration work of Haddon SundblomHaddon Hubbard “Sunny” Sundblom (June 22, 1899 – March 10, 1976) was a United States artist best known for the images of Santa Claus he created for The Coca-Cola Company.

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Sundblom was born in Muskegon, Michigan to a Swedish-speaking family. His father, Karl Wilhelm Sundblom, came from the farm Norrgårds in the village of Sonboda in Föglö of the Swedish-speaking Åland Islands, then part of the Russian Grand Duchy of Finland now Finland, and his mother Karin Andersson was from Sweden. Sundblom studied at the American Academy of Art.

Sundblom is best remembered for his advertising work, specifically the Santa Claus advertisements he painted for The Coca-Cola Company in the 1930s. Sundblom’s Claus firmly established the larger-than-life, grandfatherly Claus as a key figure in Christmas imagery. So popular were Sundblom’s images of Claus (Sundblom’s images are used by Coca-Cola to this day) that the urban legend soon arose that Sundblom had actually created the modern image of Santa Claus.[1]According to the Coca Cola company[2][3] : “For inspiration, Sundblom turned to Clement Clark Moore’s 1822 poem “A Visit From St. Nicholas” (commonly called “‘Twas the Night Before Christmas”). Moore’s description of St. Nick led to an image of Santa that was warm, friendly, pleasantly plump and human. For the next 33 years, Sundblom painted portraits of Santa that helped to create the modern image of Santa — an interpretation that today lives on in the minds of people of all ages, all over the world.”Sundblom is recognized as a major influence on many well known pin-up artists, such as Gil Elvgren, Joyce Ballantyne, and Art Frahm. In the mid-1930s, he began to paint pin-ups and glamour pieces for calendars. Sundblom’s last assignment, in 1972, was a cover painting for Playboy’s Christmas issue.”Sundblom gets pigeonholed as the painter of Coca-Cola Santa Clauses, but this trivializes his central place in 20th century advertising art. More than any artist including Norman Rockwell, Sundblom defined the American Dream in pictures, proved by his work for virtually the entire Fortune 500. [Among his still-living legacy is the Quaker Oats man, posed by his assistant Harold Macauley.]”[4]

  • ^ “The Claus That Refreshes”. Article from Snopes.com — Urban Legends Reference Pages.
  • ^ “Coke Lore”
  • ^ Michigan’s Coca-Cola Santa Claus
  • ^ Roger T. Reed of Illustration House
    • Dream of Santa: Haddon Sundblom’s Advertising Paintings for Christmas, 1931–1964, by Haddon Sundblom, Barbara Fahs Charles, J. R. Taylor
    • The Great American Pin-Up, by Charles G. Martignette and Louis K. Meisel, ISBN 3-8228-1701-5
    • Whitaker, Frederic, The Sundblom Circle, American Artist (June 1956)
    • Bill Vann, Haddon Sundblom’s Sunlit Glow, Step-by-Step Graphics (March-April): 1990: 124-129, 132-134
    • Reed, Walt, The Illustrator in America, 1860-2000. The Society of Illustrators, 2001, p. 452

    • Jenny Nyström

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