Works from the National Gallery of Art

Giorgione - Adoration of the Shepherds

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“The Adoration of the Shepherds," 1505/1510, by Giorgione, oil on panel,
Samuel H. Kress Collection, National Gallery of Art
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1971 Christmas stamp issued November 10th in Washington, DC (Scott 1444)

Designed by Bradbury Thompson and modeled by Robert Jones, this 1971 stamp depicts a Biblical scene: two shepherds in tattered clothes kneeling in adoration of the infant Jesus, who is flanked by Mary and Joseph. The landscape has been carefully rendered, including a cave, mountains and buildings in the distance, with other figures populating the mid-ground. The composition had an important influence on Venetian era painting (Shapley 1979). It remains fascinating today in no small part due to the high level of detail, requiring more than just a cursory glance to comprehend everything happening in the scene. In the painting attributed to Giorgione, Jesus is the focus of attention, although the stamp eliminates the landscape. If the entire painting, including the landscape, had been made into one small stamp, the scene would have been too small to discern. Six colors were used to print it on the Andreotti press, and the stamp reproduces a period typeface created by Venetian printer Manutius (Philatelic Release, Sept. 25 1971).