Works from the National Gallery of Art

Sano di Pietro - Madonna and Child with Saint Jerome, Saint Bernardino, and Angels

Refer to caption
"Madonna and Child with Saint Jerome, Saint Bernardino, and Angels," 1460/1470, by Sano di Pietro, tempera on wood,
Samuel H. Kress Collection, National Gallery of Art
Postage stamp featuring a painting of Madonna and Child with Saint Jerome, Saint Bernardino, and Angels
1997 Christmas stamp issued October 27th in Washington, DC (Scott 3176)

Richard D. Sheaff designed the 1995 commemorative Christmas stamp depicting a Madonna and Child, two saints, and four angels looking down from above. The stamp is representative of the painting, but crops the bottom and right sides of the image, including Mary’s delicately painted hands and Saint Bernardino standing to her right. Gold leaf comprises the background of this rather traditional painting, and was punched in to create halos and details on the garments. Saint Jerome appears to the right of the infant Jesus, who directs his gaze at the penitent saint (Boskovits 2003), while holding a goldfinch in his hand. The bird is associated with his crucifixion, as they eat thistles, which are likened to his crown of thorns. Alternate versions of the painting exist by the same artist, Sano di Pietro, some of which depict Jesus holding a fruit instead.

A painter in Siena, Italy, Sano typically made very decorative paintings, reflective of the style of earlier Sienese Renaissance painting. Linear elements are emphasized in this painting, especially in the eyes and hands of Mary, and in the strong outlines. Mary's melancholy gaze echoes that of her child, but she does not seem to be looking at Saint Jerome - rather, her stare seems vacant, perhaps foreshadowing Christ's death.