Annunciation and Nativity as the main episodes of a Christmas story. Two festive stamps introduced by Vatican Post

December 7th, 2016

Christmas in on the threshold and a Postal Service of one of the most religious countries has introduced special festive stamps  featuring two ceramic artworks, “The Annunciation” by Andrea della Robbia, and “The Nativity” attributed to Giovanni della Robbia, to mark the celebration of Christmas this year. encourages our readers to appreciate these two philatelic items by Vatican Post and to add them to your topical stamp collections.

Both works, conserved at the Franciscan Sanctuary of La Verna in the Tuscan Apennines, are glazed terracotta produced using a technique developed by ancient eastern civilizations familiar to both the Roman and Byzantine world. It consisted of applying a multi-colored ceramic enamel on a terracotta relief. Given its excellent resistance to the atmospheric elements, it was often used for external areas and in particularly humid environments.

Around the middle of the 1400s, Luca della Robbia, the first prominent representative of this family of artisans, rediscovered and refined this technique reaching the highest levels of ability. Andrea della Robbia inherited this noble art from his uncle and was also inspired by the plasticity and colors used in the works, especially white and blue.

The cover of the postage booklet, consisting of four stamps, is dedicated to “The Annunciation”, considered the masterpiece of Andrea della Robbia, both for its refined design and the expressiveness of the subjects which appears to change depending on the light.

The stamp series depicts instead “The Nativity”, a multi-colored terracotta work adorning the left altar of the Sanctuary. The € 0.95 value features the Holy Family with Saint Francis and Saint Anthony of Padua on either side. The € 1.00 value shows a detail of the child Jesus from the same work.