Traditional Christmas Series
The fifth U.S. Christmas stamp (and first traditional design) illustrates the “Madonna and Child With Angels” by painter Hans Memling, which hangs in the National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C.
This U.S. Christmas issue utilizes the same design as the previous year, the “Madonna and Child With Angels,” by Hans Memling. However, because the stamp is nearly twice the size of the original issue, greater detail can be enjoyed.
The 1968 Christmas issue pictures the Angel Gabriel and is titled “The Annunciation.” It was painted by the Flemish painter Jan van Eyck, who often signed his paintings, “Done as well as I can.”
Lorenzo Lotto painted the dramatic Nativity scene pictured on this issue. Overshadowed by more famous painters during his lifetime, Lotto tried to auction thirty of his paintings when he was 70 and impoverished, but he could sell only seven. The painting pictured on the 1970 Traditional Christmas stamp hangs in the National Gallery of Art, Washington, DC.
The design of this stamp is based on Giorgione’s “Adoration of the Shepherds,” which was painted on wood about 1510 and hangs in the National Gallery of Art.
This religious-themed Christmas stamp comes from a panel painted by an unknown Flemish artist. The entire painting is titled “Mary, Queen of Heaven,” and it currently hangs in the National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C.
In recognition of the Christmas season, this stamp features the masterpiece, “The Small Cowper Madonna,” by Raphael. Today, the painting hangs in the National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C.
A “mystery angel,” this Christmas stamp design was taken from one of the panels of a large altarpiece painting created in 1480. The artist and the place where the work was originally installed, however, remain unknown.
This Christmas issue shows a detail of “The Madonna and Child,” painted by Italian artist Domenico di Tommaso Ghirlandaio. Because postage rates for late 1975 were uncertain, both Christmas stamps were issued with no denomination; they were the first non-denominated U.S. stamps.
The design of the 1976 Traditional Christmas stamp is adapted from the 1776 Nativity painting by John Singleton Copley, which hangs in Boston’s Museum of Fine Art.
The USPS’ 1976 Bicentennial theme was repeated on the Traditional Christmas stamp, which pictures General George Washington at prayer in Valley Forge.
This Christmas issue features a terra cotta sculpture of the Madonna and Child, by Andrea della Robbia. The sculpture is located in the National Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C.
This religious Christmas issue depicts the Madonna and Child by the artist, Botticelli. In the late 1490s, Botticelli became so moved by the preaching of the Italian friar, Savonarola, that he burned many of his non-religious works and painted only religious themes from then forward.
This issue features a painting of the Madonna and Child by artist Tiepolo. This 18th-century masterpiece currently hangs in the National Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C.
1983 marked the sixth year in a row that the Madonna and Child were used on a Christmas stamp. This stamp is the second Christmas stamp to use a painting by Raphael in its design.
This Christmas stamp features the painting of the “Madonna and Child,” by Fra Filippo Lippi. It hangs in the National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C.
The 1987 traditional Christmas issue features the Madonna and Child from a larger painting by the Italian Renaissance artist, Giovanni Battista Moroni. Named “A Gentleman in Adoration Before the Badona, the 1560 painting is part of the collection at the National Gallery of Art in Washington, DC.
The traditional Christmas stamp pictures the Madonna and Child detail of Ludovico Caraccis painting, “The Dream of St. Catherine of Alexandria.” A new feature for 1989 was a booklet of 20 Christmas traditional stamps, in addition to the sheet stamps, which could be conveniently dispensed in vending machines.
A detail from the 15th century tempera and oil painting “Madonna and Child,” by Antonello da Messina, is on the 1990 traditional Christmas issue. The painting is part of the national Gallery’s Andrew W. Mellon Collection.
This year’s traditional Christmas stamp was based on the painting, “Madonna and Child With Saints,” by Giovanni Bellini. A member of the Bellini family of painters during the Italian Renaissance, he helped develop a type of painting known as sacra conversazione (holy conversation), featuring the Madonna and Child in an interior setting with two or more saints.
Even in 17th-century Bologna, Italy, which was known for its intellectual and artistic women, the talent of Elisabetta Sirani was considered unusual. Remarkably gifted, young Sirani learned to paint in her father’s studio, where she studied under Guido Reni, one of the most influential painters of her day. This was the first year the traditional Christmas stamp featured work by a woman artist.
1995’s traditional Christmas stamp is based upon the work of one of the most influential painters in history, the Florentine artist Giotto di Bondone. Created during the 14th century, in the latter part of his career, the painting, entitled Enthroned Madonna and Child, was executed on the central portion of a five-section polyptych, or altarpiece. In the painting the Madonna offers a white rose to the Christ Child. This exquisite masterpiece is now a part of the National Gallery of Art in Washington D.C.
In 1712, Paolo de Matteis completed this oil painting for the Duchess of Laurenzano, a leading patron of the arts in Naples. Noted for the vibrant formal style typical of the late baroque period of Naples, it is considered a masterpiece by historians of Neapolitan art.
The image on the stamp is a 15th-century sculpture created by an unknown artist in Florence, Italy. The painted and gilded terra cotta statue portrays the Christ Child being held by his mother. It is in the Italian Renaissance Gallery at the National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C.
Bartolomeo Vivarini’s painting “Madonna and Child” is featured in the 1999 Traditional Christmas postage stamp issued by the United States. The Vivarini family, whose original surname was da Murano, included several artists who operated an important workshop in Venice during the 15th century.
This Holiday Traditional stamp features a detail from a painting by Italian Renaissance artist Lorenzo Costa. Painted in oil on a panel, “Virgin and Child” is in the John G. Johnson Collection at the Philadelphia Museum of Art.
Featuring artwork by Jan Gossaert, a Renaissance artist from the Netherlands, the design was originally supposed to be used in 2000. However, the Postal Service chose to hold it until after the rate increase of 2002. Gossaert brought the influence of ancient Roman architecture to Northern Flemish painting.
Jan Gossaert’s “Madonna and Child” (circa 1520) appeared on both the 2002 and 2003 traditional Christmas issues. The painting is currently held at the Art Institute of Chicago.
The 2004 traditional Christmas stamp displays Lorenzo Monaco’s lovely Madonna and Child (1413), painted in tempera on panel from a collection in the National Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C.
In 2006, the traditional holiday stamp features Madonna and Child with Bird, attributed to Peruvian artist Ignacio Chacón and painted around 1765. The oil-on-canvas work is part of the Engracia and Frank Barrows Freyer Collection of Peruvian colonial art at the Denver Museum.
The 2007 traditional Christmas stamp was reproduced from The Madonna of the Carnation, a painting by Bernardino Luini (circa 1480-1532). Luini was a student of Leonardo da Vinci in Milan, and his work is so similar to his teacher’s that some of his art was originally credited to da Vinci. He is well known for his frescoes (paintings on plaster), which decorate many churches in and around Milan. The Madonna wears the “Luinesque” half-smile with downcast eyes, made famous by Luini.
The Madonna and Child With Angel shown on this stamp was painted by Botticelli between 1465 and 1467. The tempera (egg mixed with pigment) on panel piece was painted for Florence’s orphanage, Spedale degli Innocenti, where it remains today.
Giovanni Sassoferrato is renowned for his paintings of the Madonna, with the majority of his works depicting her in prayer or with the baby Jesus. Of the artist’s representations of the Madonna, one critic said, “Men grew… fond of Sassoferrato whose Madonnas, tender, lovely, carefully painted, all reveal the mother’s heart.”
The graceful style and mastery of subtle lighting seen in Madonna and Candelabra are hallmarks of Raffaello Sanzio da Urbino (1483-1520). Along with Michelangelo and Leonardo da Vinci, Raphael is considered one of the three great masters of the High Renaissance period.
The 2013 Traditional Christmas issue pictures the Virgin and Child as depicted by J. Gossaert.
The Gospel of Matthew describes visitors “from the east” following a rising star in search of a child prophesied to be the son of God. They find the child in Bethlehem and offer him the three famous gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh.
Florence, Italy, was the center of the Italian Renaissance in the 15th century, and home to many artists. It was a large, prosperous city heavily influenced by the Roman Catholic Church. Famous religious figures, such as the Madonna and Child, were featured in many artist’s works, which can still be found in the city’s churches and museums.
The Star of Bethlehem, or Christmas star, is an important part of the story of Jesus’ birth. In fact, it is often featured in planetariums during the holiday season. While some believe the star is fictional, Christianity refers to it as a miracle and a sign of Jesus’ birth. Astronomers and historians have several theories supporting the star’s existence.