In the year that the Philadelphia Museum of Art celebrates its 125th anniversary, the U.S. Postal Service will issue a holiday stamp depicting a Renaissance painting in the Museum.This year's Christmas stamp, featuring a detail of Italian painter Lorenzo Costa's Virgin and Child (about 1490), will be issued at an 11 a.m. ceremony on Wednesday, October 10, 2001 at the Philadelphia Museum of Art, 26th Street and the Benjamin Franklin Parkway. S. David Fineman, Vice Chairman of the Presidentially appointed Postal Service Board of Governors, will dedicate the stamp accompanied by Gail Harrity, Chief Operating Officer of the Philadelphia Museum of Art, and other officials.
Anne d'Harnoncourt, Director and CEO of the Philadelphia Museum of Art, said "We are delighted that the United States Postal Service has chosen to share this wonderful work of art with so many people this holiday season. This gesture comes at a particularly gratifying time, as we commemorate our 125th anniversary. For the past 125 years the Museum's mission has been to share artistic treasures with the world at large. We couldn't be more thrilled that millions of personal holiday messages worldwide will be stamped with an image of Lorenzo Costa's beautiful painting."
Renaissance painter Lorenzo Costa (about 1460-1535) was born in the northern Italian town of Ferrara. His work included altarpieces, frescoes, portraits and allegories, and his commissions for churches in nearby Bologna are considered among his best work. In this Virgin and Child, a part of the John G. Johnson Collection at the Museum, the Madonna is seated behind a waist-high, pearl-gray parapet upon which she holds her standing Child. She wears a dark blue mantle over a white kerchief and red dress.
"Lorenzo Costa's Virgin and Child beautifully represents the season, offering a unique moment on the doorstep for our friends, families and customers, who eagerly look forward to the delivery of their holiday cards and letters," said Fineman.
The Postal Service will print and circulate approximately 800 million Virgin and Child stamps. Stamps will be available for purchase in the Museum Store, online at www.philamuseum.org, as well as by calling toll free 1-800-STAMP-24. Note cards with an image of Costa's painting will also be available for purchase in the Museum Store.
Works depicting the theme of the Madonna and Child can be found throughout the Museum's European art galleries. Luca della Robbia's sculpture The Virgin Adoring the Infant Jesus (about 1472-82) depicts the Madonna and four angels gazing upon the infant, who makes a dignified blessing gesture mature beyond his years. Pietro Lorenzetti's painting Enthroned Virgin and Child, with a Donor and Two Angels (about 1320) once formed the center of a large altarpiece. Desiderio da Settignano's marble relief Virgin and Child (about 1455-60) is an intimate work with faintly smiling expressions on the faces of the Virgin and Child, both turned as if already engaging a viewer.
This is not the first time that a work from the Museum has been depicted on a stamp. In 1998, as part of the "Celebrate the Century" program, the Postal Service unveiled its Armory Show stamp commemorating the 1913 exhibition in New York that sent shock waves across America and laid the foundation for the modern art movement in this country. That stamp depicts art lovers admiring Marcel Duchamp's masterpiece, Nude Descending a Staircase, No. 2, a 1912 painting now part of the permanent collection at the Philadelphia Museum of Art, which houses the world's largest and most important group of works by Duchamp.