Attributed to the artist Piero di Giovanni, also known as Lorenzo Monaco (meaning “monk”), the panel that inspired the 2004 traditional Christmas stamp seems to glow from the gold in the background and on the reverse of Mary’s garment. This radiance is fitting, as the inscription on the scroll held by the child reads, “I am the light of the world” (Shapley 1979). Another inscription at the foot of the panel notes the date: 1413.
The stamp design by Richard Sheaf includes the scroll, but absent is the meandering drape of Mary’s hem, which was common for the International Style. Despite what the name of the style may suggest, Lorenzo Monaco was actually of the Florentine school. He was an important painter in the early 15th century, who painted not only panels, but illuminations and frescoes as well (Shapley 1979). The stamp, printed via offset lithography, was accompanied by four Santa ornament stamps of various colors.