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Robert Walter Weir
St. Nicholas
about 1837
oil
29 3/4 x 24 1/2 in.
Smithsonian American Art Museum



Although he still carries a wicker basket full of toys, this impish Saint Nicholas has just completed a holiday-eve visit. In the long blue stocking, a naughty child receives a twig, while the shorter red stocking bulges with presents. The overturned footstool, broken pipe, and cut orange on the floor are witty references to a hasty departure, yet they also symbolize the fleeting nature of life and material possessions.