Santa Claus Infiltrates Art History


First it was Beyonce, then it was the Nike swoosh, and now Kris Kringle has found his way into the annals of art history thanks to some especially pro photography and Photoshop handiwork. For his project “Santa Classics,” photographer and self-described Santa devotee Ed Wheeler dresses up as the yuletide present-deliverer, photographs himself holding the poses of figures in famous artworks, and then inserts himself into the iconic images — like John Singleton Copley‘s “Watson and the Shark” (1778, above), Michelangelo‘s Sistine Chapel ceiling (below), or Caravaggio‘s “Supper at Emmaus” (1601, at bottom) — creating hilarious and highly Christmas-y juxtapositions.


“Wheeler’s intent is to pay homage to the original paintings while offering art lovers an additional reason to smile,” the project’s About page explains. In his blog entry accompanying the image of Santa sitting at Caravaggio’s supper table, Wheeler says:

Light, for me as a photographer, is one of the most important and interesting things to play with. For example, in the Caravaggio the light on the hand is one of the things that art critics have told me is absolutely perfect. From the shadow of the index finger onto the shadow on the secondary finger, is exactly what is going on in the painting and has an amazing sense of the light. For that reason, it’s one of my favorites. As I go on, I’ve been taking Santa further into the textures and tone of the paintings, and away from the realism of photography.

The holiday-appropriate art historical matchups, as you might imagine, are for sale as greeting cards.


— Benjamin Sutton (@bhsutton)

(Images courtesy Ed Wheeler, via Santa Classics.)