The Hidden Secrets of Thomas Kinkade’s ‘A Holiday Gathering’

A Holiday Gathering” (1998), Thomas Kinkade

It’s that time of year when families come together to celebrate the holidays—a tradition honored and warmly captured in the artwork of Thomas Kinkade.

Although Kinkade himself was a practicing Christian, he also sought to create artwork that could be accessible to anyone regardless of their religious or artistic background.

“A Holiday Gathering,” featured in Park West Gallery’s Winter Sale, is one of his most beloved works. Although it’s a Christmas-themed artwork, Kinkade honors the tradition found throughout all cultures of celebrating comfort and joy with our loved ones.

“‘A Holiday Gathering’ is certainly near and dear to me, and I hope its portrayal of a congenial gathering of family and friends will be near and dear to you as well,” Kinkade once said.

Like many of his paintings, Kinkade embedded symbolism and various tributes into this snowy holiday scene. Below are a few interesting secrets about “A Holiday Gathering” that you may not know.


Surprise Guests

Keen-eyed viewers may have noticed some of the guests arriving at the warmly-lit home are actually famous visitors. On the far left side of the painting, Kinkade has depicted Norman Rockwell, one of Kinkade’s artistic heroes, heading to the festive gathering.

Detail from “A Holiday Gathering” of the guests gathering on a Victorian home’s porch. They are said to include Rembrandt van Rijn, Vincent van Gogh, and Pablo Picasso.

Rockwell isn’t the only renowned artist attending the party. Rembrandt van Rijn, Vincent van Gogh, and Pablo Picasso can be seen standing on the porch.

Detail from “A Holiday Gathering” showing Norman Rockwell, Thomas Kinkade, Nanette Kinkade, and their dog, Toby

Meanwhile, the couple walking their dog on the snow-covered sidewalk bears a striking resemblance to Kinkade, his wife Nanette, and their dog, Toby. The figure in a top hat walking to meet them is a little more of a mystery, but fans have theorized that it might be Ebenezer Scrooge, Charles Dickens, or even Mark Twain.


The Symbolism of Light

Kinkade was known as the “Painter of Light” both for his use of light in his compositions and his use of light as a major thematic symbol.

Thomas Kinkade

For example, in “A Holiday Gathering,” the warm light emitting from the windows represents family values, while the lamp post on the left reminds us to share the light and to welcome friends and loved ones.

In fact, the lamp posts actually have a double meaning in this image. If one looks carefully, the light posts on the right side of the street are modern electrical lights, while those on the left are traditional lamps. This is Kinkade’s subtle nod to the turn of the century.

Details from “A Holiday Gathering” showing the two different styles of light poles.

Kinkade’s technique to give his light an extra ethereal quality was to begin each painting with multiple layers of dark glaze.

“Dark Layers are what will give the work its depth,” Kinkade said. “They will make the windows and the streetlights and even the sun seem to glow from within instead of being dabbed on the surface.”


The Unique Victorian Home

The Victorian-style home in Thomas Kinkade’s “A Holiday Gathering.”

Kinkade is widely known for his portrayals of cottages nestled amongst rivers, cobbled streets, and rustic gardens. However, “A Holiday Gathering” is an unusual departure from his typical chalets with the portrayal of a Victorian-style home.

“A Holiday Gathering” is the ninth painting in Kinkade’s Christmas Cottage series, but the first to feature a Victorian home.

To collect the artwork of Thomas Kinkade, contact our gallery consultants at (800) 521-9654 ext. 4 during business hours or

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