Traditional Christmas Series

US #1321 Madonna and Child with Angels

US #1321
Madonna and Child with Angels

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.

1336 Madonna and Child with Angels

1336
Madonna and Child with Angels

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.

US #1363 Angel Gabriel

US #1363
Angel Gabriel

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.”

US #1414 Christmas Nativity

US #1414
Christmas Nativity

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.

US #1444 Christmas Adoration of the Shepherds

US #1444
Christmas Adoration of the Shepherds

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.

US #1471 Mary, Queen of Heaven

US #1471
Christmas Angels

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.

US #1507 Christmas Madonna

US #1507
Christmas Madonna

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.

US #1550 Christmas Angel

US #1550
Christmas Angel

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.

US #1579 The Madonna and Child

US #1579
The Madonna and Child

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.

US #1701 Christmas Nativity

US #1701
Christmas Nativity

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.

US #1729 Washington at Valley Forge

US #1729
Washington at Valley Forge

The USPS’ 1976 Bicentennial theme was repeated on the Traditional Christmas stamp, which pictures General George Washington at prayer in Valley Forge.

US #1768 Christmas Madonna and Child

US #1768
Christmas Madonna and Child

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.

US #1799 Virgin and Child

US #1799
Virgin and Child

Gerard David’s painting, “The Rest on the Flight into Egypt,” is the subject of this Christmas issue. During the later part of his career, artist Gerard David painted several different versions of this scene. The one pictured on this stamp hangs in the National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C.

 

US #1842 Madonna and Child

US #1842
Madonna and Child

This religious Christmas stamp illustrates the Madonna and Child, taken from a stained glass window in the Bethlehem Chapel in Washington’s National Cathedral. The stamp was issued at the Cathedral.
US #1939 Madonna and Child

US #1939
Madonna and Child

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.

US #2026 Madonna and Child

US #2026
Madonna and Child

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.

US #2063 Madonna and Child

US #2063
Madonna and Child

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.

US #2107 Madonna and Child

US #2107
Madonna and Child

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.

US #2165 Madonna and Child

US #2165
Madonna and Child

The religious Christmas issue for 1985 features the 15th-century “Madonna and Child,” by Luca della Robbia.

 

US #2244 Madonna and Child

US #2244
Madonna and Child

Issued in Washington, D.C., the religious Christmas issue features the Perugino Madonna, which hangs in the National Gallery.  Pietro Perugino (1446-1524) was the leading artist of the Umbrian school, which developed qualities that found expression in the High Renaissance. Raphael, whose work has also graced Traditional Christmas stamp designs, was Perugino’s most famous pupil.
US #2367 Madonna and Child

US #2367
Madonna and Child

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.

US #2399 Madonna and Child

US #2399
Madonna and Child

Responding to complaints over the definitive-sized Christmas stamps issued in 1986 and 1987, the USPS issued the 1988 Christmas stamps in a new size, approximately 50% larger than the previous issues.  This Madonna and Child painting by Botticelli is part of the National Gallery of Art Collection.
US #2427 Madonna and Child

US #2427
Madonna and Child

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.

US #2514 Madonna and Child

US #2514
Madonna and Child

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.

US #2578 Madonna and Child

US #2578
Madonna and Child

The image on the 1991 stamp is taken from a tempera and gold leaf painting by Antoniazzo Romano, a 15th-century Italian artist, “Madonna and Child With Donor.” Romano painted in a realistic style, using light and shadow to add to the depth of his subjects.
US #2710 Madonna and Child

US #2710
Madonna and Child

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.

US #2789 Madonna and Child

US #2789
Madonna and Child

Madonna and Child in a Landscape by Italian Renaissance artist Giovanni Battista Cima da Conegliano, is one of the jewels in the collection of the North Carolina Museum of Art. Created about 1497, the painting depicts Mary and baby Jesus with a monastery and a hill town in the landscape behind them. Although Cima spent his entire career in Venice, the picturesque landscape surrounding his hometown of Conegliano was important inspiration for the artist, and he frequently used it as the background for his paintings.
US #2871 Madonna and Child

US #2871
Madonna and Child

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.

US #3003 Madonna and Child

US #3003
Madonna and Child

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.

US #3107 Madonna and Child

US #3107
Madonna and Child

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.

US #3244 Madonna and Child

US #3244
Madonna and Child

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.

US #3355 Madonna and Child

US #3355
Madonna and Child

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.

US #3536 Madonna and Child

US #3536
Madonna and Child

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.

US #3675 Madonna and Child

US #3675
Madonna and Child

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.

US #3820 Madonna and Child

US #3820
Madonna and Child

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.

US #3879 Madonna and Child

US #3879
Madonna and Child

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.

US #4100 Madonna and Child

US #4100
Madonna and Child

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.

US #4206 Madonna and Child

US #4206
Madonna and Child

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.

US #4359 Virgin and Child

US #4359
Virgin and Child

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.

US #4424 Madonna and Sleeping Child

US #4424
Madonna and Sleeping Child

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.”

US #4570 Madonna of the Candelabra

US #4570
Madonna of the Candelabra

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.

US #4711 Holy Family

US #4711
Holy Family

Upon hearing a new Jewish king had been born, King Herod of Judea sent the men to find the baby and bring it to him. But each of the wise men had a dream, one that warned them to avoid Herod and take a different route home. Incensed, the king ordered the “slaughter of the innocents,” in which every male child under the age of two was to be killed to eliminate the threat posed by his supposed rival for the crown, Jesus.  An angel also appeared to Joseph that night, warning him to flee to safety in Egypt with his wife and infant son, Jesus. Mary made the trip on a donkey with her baby in her arms and Joseph by her side, guided through the arid desert by a single star.
US #4815 Virgin and Child

US #4815
Virgin and Child

The 2013 Traditional Christmas issue pictures the Virgin and Child as depicted by J. Gossaert.

US #4945
Three Wise Men

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.

US #5143
Florentine Madonna & Child

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.

US #5144
Nativity

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.

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