Art historians have long sought to identify the artist who created this painting. Early in the 20th century, the painting was attributed to the Florentine artist Pier Francesco Fiorentino, but not long after, the painting was seen as the work of an anonymous artist who had created a large number of paintings in the same style.
Although some museums still refer to the artist as “Pseudo-Pier Francesco Fiorentino,” scholars have recently taken a different approach and concluded that the artist was heavily influenced by two prominent 15th-century Florentine artists, Fra Filippo Lippi and Francesco Pesellino. The painting on this stamp is believed to be based on a Pesellino painting, now in the Musée des Beaux-Arts de Lyon in France, which shows a very similar Madonna and Child against a different background. For that reason, the National Gallery of Art refers to the artist as “a Follower of Fra Filippo Lippi and Pesellino.”
Clad with a white veil over her head and a red garment and blue cloak, both trimmed in gold, a haloed Virgin Mary gazes downward and to the right, looking at a blond, haloed Christ child while placing her right hand on his shoulder. The Christ child looks directly at the viewer. The position of the thumb and forefinger of his left hand suggests to some art historians that the painter may have intended to show him holding a symbolic object, although the painting in France believed to be its source shows the Christ child making the same gesture.
Behind both of them is a hedge of pink and white roses, with blue sky visible through thorny, leafy stalks.
Similar paintings, presumably by the same artist or workshop, are in the collections of many museums in other cities, including Baltimore, Philadelphia and London. Art historians have speculated that the painter may have had preparatory drawings or close copies of the works of the masters he imitated, and that a relationship may have existed between the workshops of those artists and this anonymous painter.
The Postal Service is issuing this stamp as a Forever stamp in a booklet of 20. Forever stamps are always equal in value to the current First-Class Mail 1-ounce price.
Double-sided Booklet of 20 (1 designs)