The hidden date for this stamp can be found along the right edge of the stamp.
This year’s religious stamp features a rare glimpse into the family life of Jesus Christ. While most familial paintings show baby Jesus in the arms of his mother, Mary, 17th-century artist Georges de La Tour places the swaddled infant in the care of his maternal grandmother, Saint Anne.
Anonymously donated to the Art Gallery of Ontario (AGO) in 1991, the oil on canvas was part of the AGO’s European collection and was painted around 1645-50. The artist, de La Tour, was born in Vic-sur-Seille, France, in 1593, and died in Lunéville, France, in 1652. The painting demonstrates his signature chiaroscuro technique, with the candle held by Saint Anne creating a sharp contrast between light and dark.
Stamp designer Louise Méthé explored collections in a number of Canadian museums while designing the stamp. Familiar with de La Tour’s work for many years, she says the issue brought back fond memories of her own childhood. “I remembered de La Tour from art school,” explains Méthé, “but more than that, I knew him from my mother, who opened my eyes to art. She introduced me to his art when I was young and showed me how he used the light and dark contrast to give meaning. ”
Lloyd DeWitt, the curator of European art at the AGO, expressed his appreciation for the family theme. “I’m thrilled to see this important painting reproduced as a stamp, celebrating family and that special bond between grandparent and child shown by de La Tour. The pristine purity with which de La Tour renders the scene, and his use of an enormous candle to mark the advent of light, make this painting an especially great candidate for this honour.”