Cartier and Tiffany rocked at the Golden Globes…

“It’s the most wonderful time of the year…” and I don’t mean Christmas. My favourite time of the year is now, for all the red carpet gowns and jewels. So many impressive pieces displayed at this year’s Golden Globes. This year, I take a look at the two usual suspects that never miss: Cartier and Tiffany & Co., both symbols of chic and glamour, using the finest craftsman and precious gems.

One of my all time favourite actresses is Jennifer Lawrence, and she was faultless with her “simple” velvet gown and diamond-set Tiffany & Co. jewels.

The necklace was composed of a series of princess-cut diamonds, suspending to the front an 11 carat diamond pear-shaped drop. Her earrings were decorated with a total of 6 carats of untreated blue sapphire and diamond surround, mounted in platinum and 18 carat yellow gold. She matched these with a diamond ring and nothing too big which could distract from the Dior clutch.

It was a big year for singer/songwriter Dua Lipa, with a nomination for Best Original Song for the Barbie movie.

She dazzled the crowds with a 1962 gold and platinum Tiffany & Co. necklace. It is set throughout with oval, pear and briolette-cut yellow beryls and brilliant-cut diamonds. A similar piece, dating from 1967, sold in June last year, 2023, at Christie’s for USD $189,000, set with approximately 86 brilliant-cut diamonds, weighing 7.00 carats.

The singer completed her look with a yellow sapphire and diamond cluster ring.

Another very talented singer/songwriter is Jon Batiste. He was superb with a few Tiffany & Co. jewels which sparkled on his Dior suit.

The necklace is from the HardWear collection. It is set throughout with fancy links, each set with brilliant-cut diamonds and mounted in 18 carat yellow gold. This necklace currently retails for £70,000. However, there are several other options retailing from £550 mounted in silver, to £215,500 set with diamonds and mounted in rose gold.

A lovely addition to the necklace was the platinum and 18 carat gold Starfish brooch by Jean Schlumberger for Tiffany & Co. It is decorated with a three carat aquamarine and diamond surround. The Starfish collection ranges from silver, selling for £365, to yellow gold, retailing at £3,450.

While Tiffany & Co. draped several artists, Cartier High Jewellery was the brand of choice for actress Julianne Moore.

She wore a spectacular gold and petrified wood necklace of reptile inspiration. Composed of 57 links, each set with white and yellow diamonds.

Echoing that style of individual panels is the Panthère de Cartier necklace set with almost 2,000 white, orange, yellow and brown diamonds, totalling just under 40 carats. A truly unique piece and a statement to Cartier’s savoir-faire.

The Panthère collection has several options of bracelets, watches and necklaces.

The actor Jared Leto, usually known for taking daring fashion risks, wore a simple 18 carat white gold and diamond Panthère de Cartier necklace.

It is set with two emerald eyes, 309 diamonds, weighing a total of 3.24 carats and highlighted by calibré-cut onyx. It currently retails for £78,500.

The Panthère collection is as desirable as ever and Cartier will always be a go to jeweller for any red carpet event.

Under Pressure

The Exponential Growth of Underinsurance

As 2023 drew to a close, I look back on the year and reflect on the subjects I have found myself discussing most and even on the morning of the 27th of December at 9am I received a call from a long term client of ours whom is not only well respected, but incredibly astute, and this case highlights without a shred of doubt, the biggest problem in our collective industry currently.

A client of theirs is looking to insure a collection of jewellery with insurance values ranging from £1,000 – £20,000 – individually not huge sums, but collectively a significant amount. The figures have been gathered through somewhat standard avenues of what was paid for the item and “what we think it is worth/or worth to us”.

In my estimation, the collection is probably underinsured by a figure close to 50%, and on some individual items, close to 75%. We are now working out when we can get to the client as soon as possible in the New Year.

Whilst it may have been considered the ‘elephant in the room’ for many years, brokers and insurers are now discussing the problems that underinsurance can cause. We all know that the implications of underinsurance can be catastrophic, but how do we pass that knowledge on to clients and give them the knowledge that they need to make an informed decision about their cover, and having a professional valuation?

A recent example occurred during the summer, of which I was part of the team assessing a large estate that had been inherited from parents of a well known farming family. The figures provided were done so in the mid 1990s, and index linked from that date, with a figure of around £250,000 for the entire contents of the property.

Following the valuation, the figures were certainly surprising to the client, and the broker.

  • A general contents figure of £200,000
  • An antiques and collectibles figure of £210,000
  • A silver figure of £101,000
  • An art figure of £210,000

What astounded me is that despite being a heritage property, the insured still had all the contents in one general contents pot, with no specific categories indicated on their policy. Following the valuation, the client and broker now have a far better image of what they are insuring with correct figures for different areas, representing far better value for the client and a far better risk evaluation for the broker and insurer.

A recent survey completed by one of the biggest insurers of hight net worth clients in the United Kingdom has revealed that 67% of their clients need more guidance and assistance with their collections. This offers great potential for brokers to have the conversation with their clients about how they can help and offer an ever greater service.

What is clear is that the market is changing, with people’s tastes moving from more traditional avenues of collections and investment. The same survey indicated that 44% of high net worth clients invested in jewellery, and the same percentage in watches, which have both seen exponential growth in the last decade.

The great opportunity that a valuation always offers for the client is not only knowing the value of specific items within their collections, but also the figures of the collection total in addition to the individual items mentioned previously, so one can gather a ‘snapshot’ of the property.

So, should the subject of under insurance still be swept under the rug? Well, if its increased in value by 60% in the last five years, probably not.

The Art Market 2023

2023 in the Art Market has been one of readjustment and realignment, but thankfully not collapse – a market correction rather than the much talked about free-fall of the market.

2022 ended on a fever pitch high, with a slew of blockbuster auctions and record-breaking auctions – the Macklowe Collection brought in $922m at Sotheby’s, the Anne Bass Collection achieved $383m at Christie’s, and the Paul Allen Collection achieving just over $1.6b also at Christie’s – taking the honour of being the first sale to top the billion-dollar mark.

Yet even as these records were being made, savvy pundits predicted a gloomier future for 2023 which turned out to be true.

Surprisingly, it was the top end of the market, with its superior quality and strong provenance, that failed to deliver the goods in 2023. It was badly hit in comparison to 2022, generating a little more than half the sales value compared to the previous years. In 2023, the most expensive artworks at auction paled in comparison to last year. The top 100 lots at auction this year totalled $2.4 billion, compared to $4.1 billion in 2022.

Why is this? Experts cite higher interest rates, continued inflations, and the ongoing turbulence in the financial markets as reason for the dip – but economic jitters aren’t the only factor at play. The continuing war in Ukraine continues to negatively effect the global economy, as no doubt, the current Israeli/Palestinian war will too. Added to this, the post-pandemic exuberance of spending that fuelled the market in late 2021 and 2022 has certainly levelled off.

Across every category in the market, sales contracted in 2023 – but some were hit harder than others.

All of this has had a negative effect on the market – spooking all but the motivated seller from consigning their treasures to an increasingly unpredictable and volatile market. Just like the property market, why would you sell in a falling market? As a result, the number of works coming to auction hit a three-year low in the year’s first five months, and the contraction is most extreme on the high end. The May marquee auctions of Modern and Contemporary art in New York were noticeably underwhelming. The three main auction houses grossed an aggregate $1.4bn (with fees), significantly lower than the $2.5bn achieved the previous May, according to data provided by Pi-eX (the Londonbased art auction analysis firm).

Similarly, the up until now extra-hot, speculative/flip led market for young ultra contemporary artists also cooled down dramatically, with demand being far more measured than in 2022. In May 2022 in New York, Sotheby’s The Now sale of 23 recent works by coveted, hard-to-source names had been a bidding frenzy that achieved $72.9m. In stark contrast, just over a year later in June this year, Sotheby’s 14-lot London version of The Now format took £8.7m ($11m). This market had been characterised by heavy speculation and flipping by collectors keen to turn a quick (and often significant) profit on here to untested newcomers to the secondary market. However, market jitters have calmed this market down noticeably – with less activity from ‘flippers’ producing less demand and lower prices.

The biggest decline was in the Impressionist and Modern sector, whose sales plummeted by almost 30 percent year over year. The Postwar and Contemporary category had a slightly smaller dip of 23 percent. Ultra- Contemporary art, once the fastestgrowing category, took a tumble as the froth surrounding the market for young artists began to dissolve. It shrunk by 26 percent year over year. The most stable category turned out to be Old Masters, whose revenue declined a comparatively modest 6 percent. It remains one of the smallest markets by dollar value, second only to ultracontemporary (which covers around two dozen years of artistic production, while Masters embraces nearly six centuries).

Each of the big 3 auction houses saw their sales figures contract in 2023. Christie’s narrowly beat Sotheby’s in the race for the top spot, generating $8.9 million more in fine-art sales by mid 2023. Both houses saw revenue decline in the first five months of the year compared with the equivalent period in 2022. Christie’s was down 23 percent while Sotheby’s was down 20 percent. Hardest hit was Phillips, which reported $255 million in art sales, a 29 percent dip year over year, after reaching a record high in 2022.

In terms of the geographic split of the art market, the top three players stayed the same. The US reconfirmed it preeminence in this regard, albeit with sales down by 25 percent from the equivalent period in 2021, 2020, and 2019. China similarly reconfirmed its place as the second largest market, but in contrast to the US, its total sales spiked by more than 110 percent during the same period. The increase illustrates the continuing strength of the Chinese collector market, but it also reflects a statistical anomaly whereby several Chinese auction houses, including Poly International and Yongle Auctions, postponed their 2022 autumn sales to early 2023 in order to comply with government lockdowns, boosting the country’s spring results.

The UK market experienced a decline in sales of 27 percent but still held third place in the global art market. The impact of Brexit and the increase in overall in logistical and importation costs still continue to effect the profitability of Britian’s historic art market.

During the pandemic and the associated lockdowns, online and digital sales increased out of necessity and market survival and drove global art sales for this period. Now that in-person auctions have fully returned, online fineart sales are hitting a plateau—but they remain far above pre-pandemic levels. A total of $155.8 million worth of fine art was sold in online-only sales at Sotheby’s, Christie’s, Phillips, Bonhams, and Artnet Auctions in the first five months of the year. That’s down 5 percent from the equivalent period in 2022 and down 64 percent from 2021, when many high-profile sales had not yet returned to being held in-person. The 2023 total remains more than 300 percent higher than 2019, when online sales generated just $35.5 million in the year’s first five months. What has changed is the comfort level of collectors to purchase via online routes – the average price in 2023 for an online purchase has dropped to $17,794 which is lower than since 2019.

In conclusion, 2023 – whilst certainly not a bullish year, it has still proved to be a strong market with no collapse foreseen in the near future. Bearing in mind the overall global uncertainties, and the fact that purchasing art is not a survival purchase, this is no mean feat!

Adoration of the Magi and Shepherds

“A cold coming, we had of it, just the worst time of year for a journey and such a long journey”, is how T.S. Eliot’s ‘Journey of the Magi’ begins. Semi-desert can be very cold on a clear night, and we know it was clear, because the wise men were following a star.

No-one knows when our saviour was born, but the early, persecuted Christians, probably celebrated Jesus’ birth on December 25th because the Romans were celebrating ‘Sol Invictus’, the birth of the unconquered sun, and Saturnalia when people feasted, exchanged gifts and did not have time to watch what the subversive Christians were up to.

In 336A.D., when Constantine, a Christian convert was Emperor, the church in Rome began to formally celebrate Christmas Day on December 25th.

As a child, I was fascinated by descriptions of the aftermath of his birth – the Adorations by Magi and Shepherds and started a collection of secondhand Christmas cards of these subjects. What particularly fascinated me was the contrast between the elaborately dressed Magi, a Magus is a wise man, with their extravagant and costly gifts adoring the Christ child and the simplicity and piety of the shepherds in their ragged clothes and offering a precious lamb as a gift.

Two of my favourite treatments of this subject are The Adoration of the Shepherds by Gerrit van Honthorst in The National Gallery and the Portinari Altarpiece in the Uffizi. Honthorst (1592-1656), was a Dutchman from Utrecht, who with two friends visited Rome in the early 17th Century and fell under the spell of Caravaggio and adopted his dramatic use of chiaroscuro (light and shade). He was known as Gherardo dalle Notti, Gerard of the Night, in Rome. This picture was painted there in 1610.

The Portinari Altarpiece was commissioned by Tomasso Portinari, a prominent banker, working for the Medici in Bruges, from the brilliant Flemish artist Hugo van der Goes (c.1430/40-1482) around 1472-5. The shepherds have coarse, sunburnt faces, rough hands and grimy fingernails, all of which is accentuated when one looks at the beautiful Virgin Mary, with her pale skin and delicate hands.

Contrast these depictions of simple, pious shepherds, with Benozzo Gozzoli’s (c.1421-1497) ‘Procession of the Magi’ in the Palazzo Medici Riccardi in Florence.

The richly caparisoned horses, the smartly attired attendants and the exotically dressed Magi exude a sense of wealth and power. Benozzo and at least one assistant completed this miraculous fresco over a few months in 1459.

These paintings remind me of happy Christmases past, and my scrapbook of Old Master adorations.

Winter Landscapes

Have you ever stopped to wonder why, in the ‘Golden Age’ of English landscape painting (1750-1850), there are so few winter landscapes by the major practitioners of the genre. In the 18th Century there are none by George Lambert, Richard Wlson or Thomas Gainsborough and one has to rely on examples by lesser fry such as de Loutherbourg, J.C. Ibbetson and George Smith of Chichester.

In the next generation we have just a handful. ‘A Frosty Morning’ painted by J.M.W. Turner (1775-1851) of 1812, a copy of Jacob Ruysdael, by John Constable ( 1776-1837), who loved Ruysdael’s paintings and owned 4 of them and two by Francis Danby, A.R.A (1793-1861). The Danbys are ‘An Ice Slide’ of 1849, exhibited at the R.A. in 1850 and a study of children skating outside a woodman’s cottage, painted in the early 1820s.

It seems to be very odd there are so few, when one considers how many winter landscapes were painted in the Netherlands in the 17th Century and how prized by collectors and admired by artists in England such paintings were.

I think in large part it is due to studio practice in the late 18th and early 19th Centuries. Artists would go out sketching from Spring to Autumn, when the weather was relatively clement and then work up the sketches into finished easel pictures in the winter.

Constable travelled with a large and a small sketchbook everywhere he went, to record things of interest, including on honeymoon. I would like to hear from anyone who has a better explanation!

12 Days of Christmas

In 2014, Sotheby’s sold a copy of ‘Mirth Without Mischief’ for $23,750, dating from 1780 in which the first version of the famous Christmas carol Twelve Days of Christmas appeared for the first time.

Some historians believe it could be French and could have been created as a memory game, to help Christians learn and remember the principles of their faith. Though this could and has been refuted by some, let’s have a look at what is gifted during the Twelve Days of Christmas.

On the first day of Christmas, my true love gave to me a partridge in a pear tree.

Day 2: two turtle doves
Day 3: three French hens
Day 4: four calling birds
Day 5: five gold rings
Day 6: six geese a-laying
Day 7: seven swans a-swimming
Day 8: eight maids a-milking
Day 9: nine ladies dancing
Day 10: 10 lords a-leaping
Day 11: 11 pipers piping
Day 12: 12 drummers drumming

Someone on the internet has very kindly converted what the cost of all those presents would be in today’s currency and this comes to approximately £35,000.

With this budget, here is my choice for what I would wear during the Twelve Days of Christmas.

The Twelve Days start on the 25th December, and in keeping with the festive red and religious aspect of the celebrations, an early 19th Century garnet and pearl cannetille cross pendant, which sold at Bonhams for £1,500.

On the 26th, with the nights still closing in early, a moonstone necklace such as this Edwardian pendant necklace selling for £995, to shimmer and capture all the starlight.

On the 27th, an emerald and diamond three-stone ring, such as the below selling for £2,950 at Fenton to echo the Christmas tree which might be losing a few needles by now…

On the 28th, it always feel like dates have ceased to matter, so as a special reminder, this Rolex DateJust 1601 in stainless steel, selling for £4,400. Discreet and elegant, it is worn as jewellery.

On the 29th, perhaps a night out in a restaurant dreaming of that sky trip would require novelty cufflinks, as these enamel and silver cufflinks by Francis & Deakin, selling for £315.

On the 30th, one will have a quiet night in before the New Year celebrations. It could be a night to remember and remind that wonderful person just how much you love them with a fancy coloured-diamond ring from De Beers. The below cluster ring is set with a 0.52ct fancy yellow diamond, VS1, within a surround and shoulder set with brilliant-cut diamonds and retails for £7,250.

On the 31st, to celebrate the new year offered to us as a gift, one could purchase these vintage Chanel earrings for £1,370 decorated with bows, like a gift to unwrap.

2024 will be the year of the Dragon in Chinese culture. Dragons symbolise courage, power and protection.

Therefore, to start the year, on the 1st January, let us internalise all these elements and choose to wear a dragonset jewel such as the Fabergé Palais Tsarkoye Selo Red Locket with Dragon Surprise by Fabergé, retailing for £12,000.

The 2nd January calls for a quiet cuppa, and how best to accessorise than with Tea for Two bangle by Hermès £485, decorated with enamel.

On the 3rd, perhaps one is gifting the last few presents of the season and this trio of brooches would make a lovely addition to any jewellery collection, sold for only £280 at Dawsons Auctions a few days ago.

The list wouldn’t be complete without referring to The Princess of Wales jewellery. The Princess is one to reuse dresses and outfits so we could certainly get inspired by her look from last year with the goldplated earrings she wore last Christmas from Cezanne, retailing for £100. No one will notice they aren’t sapphires…!

Finally, as we look to the future and the warmer weather to come, on the 5th January I would recommend the mother-of-pearl Sweet Alhambra bracelet by Van Cleef & Arpels, retailing for £1,300. The butterfly motif reminds us that spring is not too far away, and with it the promise of longer days filled with possibilities…

All these gorgeous gifts bring us to a total of £32,855, well within our budget and enough to splurge on that meal, extra gift or trip away. Best Wishes to all.

Christmas Wines

Christmas tips from a seasoned tippler

“Any fool can serve a good wine by spending a fortune on it”, my father used to say, “but the trick is finding something delicious to drink that isn’t ruinously expensive”. He was particularly good at it and I have tried to emulate him.

With Christmas around the corner, expenditure at an annual high and entertaining on a larger scale than normal, I thought it might be helpful to share some things I have found or been introduced to by Hels, my P.A., that Serena, my wife, and I have enjoyed drinking without breaking the bank.

I am going to do this in a chronological order, starting with aperitifs, first course companions and then what to have with meat, fish and, of course, Turkey, and finally, what to drink with cheese and pudding.

I know next to nothing about spirits, so if Milk Gin is your tipple or you adore cocktails pre-prandial, forget my wine choices and go for things you like.

At times of celebration one immediately thinks of Champagne, but when it’s going to be drunk in industrial quantities, one tends to think again. Do you really want to spend between £35 and £55 a bottle for an average Champagne?.

Instead, we drink the Crémant de Bordeaux that Jane Macquitty habitually praises in The Times. It comes from M&S at £10 a bottle and has small bubbles, which I like, as I’m prone to sneezing if they get too big, and has a creamy texture. In fact, try any of the Crémants from Bordeaux, the Loire, Jura or Bourgogne. They are made the same way as Champagne but don’t come from the region so have to be called something else by French Law, and cost a fraction of the real thing.

If you don’t like fizzy drinks, you might like to try something white and light. I agree with my dear friend Ben Collins, who co-owned Bibendum and tragically died two years ago. He liked to drink thin, slightly astringent wines on an empty stomach and a more robust Chardonnay, like a white Burgundy, when accompanied by food. I like the grape varieties Sauvignon Blanc, Pinot Grigio, Torrontes, Albarino and Assyrtiko in this category, where acidity and minerality are the buzzwords.

In the under £10 price range, try Ned, a New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc from Majestic and Marques de los Zancos from Tesco, a bargain at £5.85.

Now we have arrived at the moment critique! Many of my friends have become disaffected with Turkey, as the legs (the only flavoursome bits) dry out before the breast is cooked and you can’t spatchcock a bird that is meant to be full of stuffing, they go for beef instead. Whatever meat you choose, or vegetable if you are vegetarian/vegan, try a red wine.

There is little point buying cheap red burgundy (Pinot Noir) as it doesn’t taste of anything and even when you spend £100 a bottle for red wines from this region, it is easy to be disappointed. I would go for a claret, (the red wine of Bordeaux) and my favourite in the reasonable price range is Château Beaumont. It is a vast estate in the Haut Medoc, just under 280 acres and producing, on average, half a million bottles of delicious, well-made Claret every year. Your best bet is to buy it well in advance of using it, i.e. about six years. The 2020 is readily available, although not yet drinkable for £10 a bottle in bond. You then have to pay duty, currently at £2.67 a bottle and VAT at 20% on the total, to take it out of bond, but it is well worth the effort. The 2014 is drinking now and is available from Richard Kihl in Suffolk, still at £10 a bottle in bond, which works out at £15.20 a bottle delivered.

If £15.20 is beyond your budget, you could do a lot worse than buying Cote du Rhone from Lidl at £5.29 a bottle. Like the Beaumont, it will benefit from a couple of years aging so that the tannins are absorbed, otherwise, it is totally drinkable now.

Next comes the Stilton. It has such a strong flavour that it overwhelms most wines, but not the fortified ones. So, I would recommend Port with this course. A vintage port from a great year such as Fonseca 1994 will set you back £100+. From a less good year, say 2003, you are still looking at spending between £35 and £50. However, if you plump for late bottled Vintage Port, such as Taylor Fladgate’s, LBV 2016 from Wand Wines or Hard to Find Wines for £15.99, you will find a delicious round and hearty glass that punches the same weight as the cheese.

Finally, what about pudding wine? I think that most sweet things at Christmas are so sugary – Christmas Pudding, brandy butter, mince pies that to have a sweet wine with them would be cloying. Open some more Cremant!

However, if you are serving Foie Gras or a pudding that is quite tart, a Sauternes is your answer. Of course, Chateau d’ Yquem is by far the greatest of them all, arguably the finest wine from Bordeaux, but at £3-400 a bottle for a recent vintage, you need to have a big cheque book! A bottle of the 1811 was bought for £75,000, making it the most expensive bottle of white wine ever sold.

However, there is an incredibly rigorous selection policy at Yquem and the 150 pickers go through the vines picking the grapes several times, as they ripen at different speeds due to the presence or absence of Noble Rot, a fungus that weakens the skin of the grape to allow evaporation. This makes for a very sweet wine due to the percentage of sugar to liquid. In 1964 the pickers went through the vines 13 times, only for the makers to decide the grapes were sub-standard and declared a non-vintage making no Yquem at all. This doesn’t mean they make no wine in such a year. In most years only the best grapes are used and the lesser ones go into a ‘de-classified’ wine, such as “Sauternes” from Vineyards Direct, which was selling for £16 a half bottle when released. Try and find one of these.

To end on a note of thrift, Christmas is the time to search for that bottle of wine a friend brought you and you know you would hate and had put aside for the Tombola at the village fete. This is a gift that is heavensent for mulled wine, where the wine is just a vehicle for cinnamon, orange peel, cloves and nutmeg and where the heating process ruins the wine. A glass of mulled wine on a cold winter’s day is a thing of good cheer. Enjoy it and have a very Happy Christmas.

Risk Management Forum

Thank you Hiscox for the invitation to present at the Risk Management Forum yesterday.

We are always delighted and honoured to present market updates and engage on important matters that affect HNW clients.

The room was filled with many supporting brokers but also many new brokers we had not met before, so it was a real pleasure to put faces to names and meet the next rising stars in the insurance arena.

Well done Nico Bryant-Stevens, Nicola Holmes, Andrew Cheney, and Barry Taylor!

Big thank you to John O’Brien for a great day and evening.

Victorian Christmas Paintings

Much of what we associate with Christmas today, with the exception of After Eights and Christmas jumpers, stems almost entirely from the Victorian era (1837-1901). Prince Albert introduced all of his German family’s Christmas traditions to the Royal household following his marriage to Queen Victoria in 1840. Christmas trees, cards, turkeys with all the trimmings and Christmas stockings were all enthusiastically taken up by Queen Victoria and as the key influencer of her day, her loyal subjects followed and fully embraced all the young Queen’s new and exciting festive family traditions.

Charles Dickens wrote about Christmas and Victorian painters in Europe and America alike brought these Christmas scenes and people to life. Santa Claus was brought to life by the American illustrator Thomas Nast who also invented the Christmas Card, another stroke of Victorian genius that brought a little bit of festive splendour through letterboxes around the world during the festive season.

Here are some common themes and elements found in Victorian Christmas paintings:

1. Family Gatherings: Victorian Christmas paintings frequently feature scenes of families coming together to celebrate the holiday. These gatherings often take place in beautifully decorated homes, with family members enjoying each other’s company.

2. Decorations: The Victorians were known for their elaborate Christmas decorations. Paintings from this era often showcase festively decorated Christmas trees adorned with candles, ornaments, and tinsel. Mistletoe and holly were also commonly used to decorate homes.

3. Gifts and Presents: Gift-giving was an important aspect of Victorian Christmas celebrations. Paintings might depict scenes of children eagerly unwrapping their presents, or the presentation of gifts to family members.

4. Caroling: Christmas carolers, often dressed in traditional Victorian clothing, are a common subject in these paintings. Carolers would go from house to house, singing festive songs to spread cheer.

5. Snowy Scenes: Many Victorian Christmas paintings depict snowy landscapes and scenes, introducing the idea of a “white Christmas.”

6. Feasting: A Victorian Christmas feast was an important tradition, and you can find paintings that feature festive tables laden with roast meats, puddings, and other holiday treats.

7. The Yule Log: The Yule log was a symbol of warmth and light during the Christmas season. Some paintings show families gathered around a fireplace with a burning Yule log.

8. Christmas Cards: Victorian Christmas cards, which gained popularity during this era, often featured sentimental and picturesque scenes. Paintings might show people exchanging or displaying these cards.

9. Acts of Charity: The Victorians placed a strong emphasis on acts of charity and goodwill during the Christmas season. Some paintings depict scenes of people helping the less fortunate, emphasising the importance of giving during the holiday.

10. Father Christmas: The modern image of Santa Claus, known as Father Christmas in the UK, started to take shape during the Victorian era. Paintings might feature the jolly figure of Father Christmas, sometimes dressed in green or other colours, distributing gifts to children.

Prominent artists of the Victorian era, such as John Callcott Horsley (British, 1817-1903) Thomas Nast, (American1840-1902) and Sir John Gilbert (British1817-1897), created Christmas-themed works that have become iconic representations of the holiday. These paintings continue to be cherished for their ability to capture the nostalgia and spirit of Victorian Christmas celebrations.