32¢ Madonna and Child
Issue Date: November 1 1996
City: Richmond, VA
Printed By: Bureau of Engraving and Printing
Printing Method: Lithographed and engraved
Perforations: 11.1 x 11.2
Since they were first issued in 1966, the use of the Madonna and Child stamps on Christmas greetings has become a Yuletide tradition for many Americans. This year’s stamp, which marks the 30th anniversary of that tradition, features a detail from Paolo de Matteis’s masterwork, Adoration of the Shepherds.
In 1712 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.
Paolo de Matteis studied under Luca Giordano, the dominant Neapolitan artist of the late 17th century. As was characteristic of late 17th- and 18th-century Italian artists, de Matteis made several trips to Rome, where he acquired knowledge of the works of earlier baroque artists such as Domenichino and Guido Reni. For three years, he also worked in Paris. The majority of de Matteis’s works however, were produced in Naples where many of them still reside.
In 1979 however, the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts acquired Adoration of the Shepherds. Measuring a magnificent 791/2” x 70”, this jewel hangs in the museum’s great hall.