Saturday, December 02, 2006

USPS stamp

Chacón Madonna and Child with Bird

The 2006 Christmas stamp features an oil-on-canvas entitled Madonna and Child with Bird. Dating from around 1765, the painting is attributed to Ignacio Chacón-an artist active from about 1745 to 1775 in Cuzco, Peru. It is now part of the Engracia and Frank Barrows Freyer Collection of Peruvian colonial art at the Denver Art Museum. In designing the stamp, art director Michael Osborne slightly cropped the painting's floral "frame" and surrounded the entire composition with a gold border that echoes Chacón's use of gold-leaf embellishments.

A famous painting by Spanish artist Bartolomé Esteban Murillo entitled La Sagrada Familia del Pajarito (The Holy Family of the Little Bird) probably served as an indirect prototype for Chacón's Madonna and Child with Bird. The importance of birds in Inca culture would have made the topic of Murillo's painting particularly resonant in Peru. Birds were sacred to the Inca, partially because of their ability to fly and move closer to Inti, the sun god. So in Cuzco, colonial artists often incorporated birds or feathers into images of the Virgin and Christ to indicate their divine status.

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