Valuable treasures from the Portuguese Museums. 2 originally designed stamps introduced by Portugal Post

July 4th, 2016

Portuguese Museums are rich on valuable treasures that are appreciated by art lovers from around the world. To mark its greatest masterpieces Portugal Post has released two beautiful and originally designed stamps that contain the images of the Saint Vincent Panels and the Temptation of Saint Anthony. invites our readers to appreciate these two philatelic items and to add them to your collections.

The Saint Vincent Panels (depicted on the first stamp) are a polyptych attributed to the royal painter of King Afonso V (1432-1481), Nuno Gonçalves. Rediscovered in 1882 in the Monastery of São Vicente de Fora, they are generally known by the names proposed in 1909 by José de Figueiredo ‒ the panels of the Friars, the Fishermen, the Prince, the Archbishop, the Knights and the Relic ‒ and form an exceptional collection, both within the framework of Portuguese art throughout history and in the context of great European painting of the 15th century.

The horizontal arrangement of the panels, linked from the perspective of the tiles defining the floor and unified by the row of heads along the top of the composition, corresponds to the sequence of their initial placing, which would originally have formed part of the retable of the Saint Vincent Altarpiece in the chancel of Lisbon Cathedral (c.1470).

A unique "group portrait" in the history of European painting, it is a work of enormous symbolic importance to Portuguese culture, giving rise to the interpretative challenges that have inspired, particularly in the area of iconographic identification, varying degrees of imaginative activity that have fuelled a debate that is now centuries old and still inconclusive.

The triptych of the Temptation of Saint Anthony (that is depicted on the second item) is a masterpiece by the painter Hieronymus Bosch, the fifth centenary of whose death is celebrated this year, 2016. It was painted around 1500, its precise destination unknown. In the 19th century, it belonged to King Luis I's collection.

On the back of the wings, two panels in grisaille, visible when the triptych is closed, show the Arrest of Christ and the Road to Calvary. Inside, in a unified and strange landscape populated by monsters and hybrid beings, Saint Anthony, one of the founders of Christian monasticism, suffers the temptations and torments of diabolic figures that trouble his life and the peace sought through prayer and withdrawal from the world. The extraordinary imagination with which Bosch constructs his monstrous figures and makes his painting a recognisable and copied style was the painter's way of translating the idea of a world full of obstacles and threats to those who seek to follow the path of salvation.