The Madonna of the Carnation Stamp

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The Madonna of the Carnation Stamp

The beauty and serenity of "The Madonna of the Carnation" featured on the masterpiece by Milanese Renaissance painter Bernardino Luini will represent the spirit of Christmas during the 2007 winter mailing season.

The U.S. Postal Service issued the 41-cent stamp at a First-Day-of-Issue ceremony at the 2007 American Stamp Dealers Association’s Mega Stamp Show at Madison Square Garden, New York City on Thursday, October 25.

"The new Christmas stamp helps to celebrate this important holiday, conveying good tidings for families, friends and customers, who look forward to the delivery of their holiday mail," said Katherine Tobin, member, Board of Governors, U.S. Postal Service, who dedicated the stamp.

Joining Tobin for the ceremony were Joining Tobin at the event were Eric Jackson, President, American Stamp Dealers Association; Wade Saadi, Chairman, Board of Vice Presidents, American Philatelic Society; Terrence McCaffrey, Manager, Stamp Development, USPS; and Preston High School Gospel Choir, Bronx, NY.

Also on hand as honored guests were Robert Daruk, Sr., District Manager/Postmaster, New York District, USPS; Nancy Stahl, Illustrator, Holiday Knits Commemorative Stamps; Wade Saadi, Chairman, Board of Vice Presidents, American Philatelic Society; and Carle Atwater, Supervisor, Delivery Program, USPS; The ceremony was attended by approximately 200 stamp collectors.

Formerly known as Holiday Traditional stamps, the Christmas stamps adorn millions of letters, greeting cards and packages each year. Since 1978, the theme of these stamps has been the Madonna and Child, and the stamps have attracted a devoted following over the years. The 2007 design features Bernardino Luini’s oil-on-panel, “The Madonna of the Carnation,” which dates to around 1515 and is now part of the collection of the National Gallery of Art in Washington, DC. The stamp art is a detail of the work, as the image was slightly cropped on all four sides to fit the stamp format.

In painting the "Madonna," Luini used oil paints, then a relatively new medium, to great advantage. He enhanced his typically warm palette with the technique known as sfumato — an Italian word meaning "smoky" — in which softened color gradations and blended tones create an illusion of depth, volume and contour. Positioned against a plain, dark background and bathed in glowing light, the painting's figures seem alive and humanly accessible, filling the picture and inviting the viewer’s attention.

Clothed in a red dress and an orange-lined blue cloak, the Virgin Mary cradles her baby on her lap. The Christ Child is turned toward a green and white vase of flowers, focusing his attention on the carnation in his right hand.

In addition to “The Madonna of the Carnation” stamp, four additional stamps from the Holiday Celebration series will be available nationwide. The Holiday Knits stamp series was also issued today, while a stamp commemorating the Muslim holiday of Eid was issued Sept. 28. Stamps recognizing Kwanzaa and Hanukkah will be issued Oct. 26.

The Christmas stamp is available at the show and can be purchased online at, by calling 800-STAMP-24, at philatelic centers nationwide and at local Post Offices.

The Postal Service produced 1.87 billion Holiday Knits stamps, 700 million Christmas stamps, 50 million Kwanzaa stamps, 50 million Hanukkah stamps and 40 million Eid stamps.

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