Introduction to the Thomas Nast Website

Thomas Nast (1840-1902), perhaps the most important American political cartoonist of all time, is best known for his invention and development of popular symbols like the Republican Elephant, Democratic Donkey, a fat, jolly Santa Claus and a lean, goatee-wearing Uncle Sam.
Nast’s most important forum was Harper’s Weekly, the leading illustrated American periodical of the last half of the nineteenth century. HarpWeek has identified the 2200-plus cartoons that Nast drew for Harper’s Weekly—the first in 1859, the last in 1896, and the rest mainly between 1862 and 1886. They were instrumental in winning four presidential elections—for Abraham Lincoln in 1864, for Ulysses S. Grant in 1868 and 1872, and for Grover Cleveland in 1884.
Almost unknown is the influence that Nast’s cartoons had on two major European artists—Edgar Degas and Vincent van Gogh. Albert I. Boime, Professor of Art History at UCLA, has studied and published extensively on both impressionists, as well as on Nast and his influence on each of them.
HarpWeek commissioned an article by Professor Boime entitled "The Interactivity of Thomas Nast and High Art." An extract from the article comprises the core of the illustrated discussion of the fertile artistic relationship between Thomas Nast and Edgar Degas. Another selection from the essay details the even more profound affect of Nast upon the style and content of some of Vincent van Gogh’s illustrations and paintings.
John Adler

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