The Florentine Madonna and Child stamps will be issued nationwide Oct. 18, welcomed with a noon first-day ceremony at the Smithsonian National Postal Museum, 2 Massachusetts Ave. NE, Washington, D.C. The ceremony is free and open to the public.
The Christmas stamp, issued in a double-sided pane of 20 described by the United States Postal Service as a booklet, features a detail from the 15th-century tempera-on-poplar panel painting in the Widener Collection at the National Gallery of Art. The artist is unknown, identified simply as “a follower of Fra Filippo Lippi and Pesellino.”
The ceremony was originally announced as taking place Oct. 11 at the National Gallery of Art, but the Postal Service announced a change of date and venue on Sept. 22.
The National Gallery of Art obtained the painting in 1942, described as “inheritance from Estate of Peter A.B. Widener by gift through power of appointment of Joseph E. Widener, Elkins Park.”
The artist portrayed the Madonna and the standing infant Jesus in front of a tangle of flowering roses in pink, white and red. Mary holds the baby delicately with both hands.
The stamp design adds a silver frame all around, with the inscription “CHRISTMAS” in the frame across the top, and “15th c. Florentine, National Gallery of Art” along the bottom. “USA” is superimposed in white in the upper left corner of the painting detail, and “FOREVER” is printed in white reading down from the upper right corner.
The USPS announcement notes the availability of a die-cut press sheet of 160 stamps (eight double-sided panes of 20) for $75.20. The press sheet quantity issued was not revealed.
The stamps are offset-printed by Ashton Potter USA, with 300 million stamps issued.
Nondenominated (47¢) Florentine Madonna and Child forever stamp double-sided pane of 20
FIRST DAY— Oct. 18, 2016; city— Washington, D.C., and nationwide.
DESIGN: artist— existing art by a follower of Fra Filippo Lippi and Pesellino; art director and designer— William J. Gicker, Washington, D.C.; typographer— Greg Breeding, Charlottesville, Va. modeler— Joseph Sheeran.
This Christmas stamp features a detail of Madonna and Child, a 15th-century tempera-on-panel painting.
Clad with a white veil over her head and a red garment trimmed in gold and partially covered with a gold-trimmed blue cloak, a haloed Virgin Mary gazes downward and to the right, looking at a blond, haloed Christ Child while placing her right hand on his shoulder. Behind both figures is a hedge of pink and white roses, with blue sky visible through their thorny, leafy stalks.
Dated to circa 1470, the painting is in the Widener Collection at the National Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C. Its anonymous artist is known only as a Follower of Fra Filippo Lippi and Pesellino. The art director for this stamp was William J. Gicker.
The Florentine Madonna and Child stamps are being issued as a Forever stamp. Forever stamps are always equal in value to the current First-Class Mail one-ounce price.
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