CLEVELAND—A new postage stamp for Christmas shows detail from an 18th-century Peruvian painting of Our Lady of Guapulo.
The ornate image of Mary holding the infant Jesus by an unknown artist in Cuzco, Peru, is from the collection of the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York.
The U.S. Postal Service will release the stamp at post offices nationwide Oct. 20.
“Enrobed in a pyramidal gown speckled with jewels and holding a scepter woven with roses and leaves, a crowned Virgin Mary looks down at a similarly adorned Christ Child in her left arm,” the USPS wrote in its description of the stamp.
The image is framed in a gray metallic border. The word “Christmas” appears in black lettering across the top.
Art director Greg Breeding designed the stamp.
The museum’s description of the painting said the “richly dressed and adorned sculpture depicted in this work originated as a copy of the Spanish Virgin of Guadalupe, commissioned in 1584 by a confraternity of merchants in Quito (Ecuador).”
Guapulo is a parish of Quito, nearly 2,000 miles away from Cuzco. It also is home to the Our Lady of Guapulo Franciscan Sanctuary built in the second half of the 17th century.
The painting is named for the sanctuary “where the miracle-working image was venerated,” the museum said, adding that “it was invoked by devotees who sought the Virgin Mary’s aid and protection.”
“During last quarter of the 17th century, a painted copy of the sculpture was carried throughout the Andes on a mission to gather alms for the construction of a new sanctuary, resulting in a demand for locally produced copies like this one by a Cuzco painter,” the museum’s description said.
The painting from which the stamp image was cropped shows the full length of Mary, who is holding a rose, an emblem of her deep love of God, according to Catholic tradition. It includes the framed faces of six cherubs looking out from the bottom of the artwork.
The stamp will be sold in a double-sided pane of 20.
The USPS issues traditional Christmas stamps showing Mary and Jesus every two years.
The stamp is one of 17 that the USPS is releasing for the end-of-the-year holiday season. One issue shows 10 winter scenes while another depicts brightly colored secular Christmas icons inspired by folk art traditions by updated in bright colors.
Designs include a prancing reindeer with antlers, an ornament tied with a bow, a tree topped with a star and a stocking holding a teddy bear and a sprig of holly in red, green and white.
Other stamps mark Hanukkah, which begins the evening of Dec. 10, and Kwanzaa, which is observed Dec. 26-Jan.1.
All of the stamps are nondenominated and include the “forever” designation, paying the current 55-cent first-class letter rate.
By Dennis Sadowski