The Virgin and Child
Date of Issue
October 20, 1978
Series Time Span
Perforation or Dimension
Designed by Jean Morin.
Hans Memling, "The Virgin and Child with St. Anthony Abbot and a Donor", 1472 National Gallery of Canada, Ottawa, Ontario
Three early Renaissance paintings from the collection of Canada's National Gallery were chosen to illustrate this year's Christmas commemoratives. Only the focal point of each composition appears on the stamps: mother and infant. If Saint Luke had not written his unique account of the birth and first years of Jesus from the virgin Mary's side of the story, she would have remained almost unknown. However, because of his presumed direct access to the mother of Jesus, the Gospel of this holy historian/painter became the source inspiration for generations of artists seeking to represent one of the most prevailing and poignant images of Christianity - the Madonna and Child. Of course, identification is much easier for the more proclaimed and prolific artists of any school. There is little dispute about attributing "The Virgin and Child with Saint Anthony and Donor" to Hans Memling, a leading figure of Flemish painting in the late 15th century. This painting, a detail of which appears on the 14-cent stamp, is immediately signalized by the composition, style, colours and poses which Memling made his own. Another interesting characteristic of his paintings is that Memling usually pictured the Virgin against a brocaded fabric background. The fact that di Cione's family in Florence was also fond of this treatment a century before is only one small indication of the spread and interaction of artistic tastes and treatments throughout Europe during the flowering of the Renaissance period. The golden apple in the Christchild's hand symbolizes redemption and salvation, underlining the Child's mission as the new Adam who would reopen the gates of Paradise. The details from this masterpiece are reproduced with the kind permission of the National Gallery, Ottawa. Jean Morin, who heads his own graphics communications firm in Montreal, is responsible for the layout and typography of this stamp.
Canada. Post Office Department. [Postage Stamp Press Release], 1978.
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