This stamp, issued by the U.S. Postal Service in time for Christmas 2024, features the serene Madonna and Child from the workshop of the 17th century Italian artist Giovanni Battista Salvi, called “Sassoferrato” (1609–1685).
The artwork depicts a watchful Madonna, her head tilted toward the sleeping Christ child nestled against her. She wears a blue cloak and a dark red gown, from which off-white undersleeves emerge at the elbows. A beige veil, reminiscent of a halo, covers part of her light brown hair. Her child appears partially swaddled in beige cloth.
Sassoferrato achieved success by emulating the work of earlier Renaissance artists, especially Raphael (1483–1520). Modestly scaled depictions of the Madonna and Child were among Sassoferrato’s most popular paintings. He and his workshop produced many versions of this particular Madonna and Child; this one is from the collection of the Indianapolis Museum of Art at Newfields. Because the extent to which Sassoferrato had a hand in painting it is unknown, it is attributed to his workshop. A similar version of the painting, attributed to Sassoferrato himself, appeared on a 2009 Christmas stamp from the Postal Service.
William Gicker was the art director for the project. Greg Breeding designed the stamp, which will be sold in booklets of 20.
The Christmas Madonna and Child stamp is being issued as a Forever® stamp. This Forever stamp will always be equal in value to the current First-Class Mail® one-ounce rate.
Artwork courtesy of the Indianapolis Museum of Art at Newfields.
Stamp Art Director
William Gicker served as Director of Stamp Services for the U.S. Postal Service from 2020 until his retirement in 2023. In that position he oversaw stamp development, stamp products and exhibitions, stamp manufacturing, stamp fulfillment, and the Postmaster General’s Citizens’ Stamp Advisory Committee (CSAC).
Gicker began working for the U.S. Postal Service in 1998. Initially assistant editor of USA Philatelic, the quarterly stamp catalog produced by Stamp Services, he soon became editor where he oversaw the catalog’s award-winning program until 2013.
Named creative director of stamps in 2001, Gicker became manager and creative director of Stamp Development in 2015. Working closely with Postal Service art directors and CSAC, he managed the creative development and quality control of more than 800 stamp issuances and 1,700 individual stamp designs.
He has served as art director for some of the most popular stamps issued by the Postal Service: the five-year Art of Disney series; Star Wars; Holy Family; Harry Potter; and Hot Wheels. As both art director and designer, Gicker lists among his many stamps, Holiday Baubles; the first international rate Global stamp in 2013; and the Gifts of Friendship joint issuance with Japan. He was also art director for the first stamp to celebrate Diwali, eight more Global Forever® stamps, and several Christmas Madonna and Child issuances, the most recent in 2024.
A native of Pennsylvania, Gicker graduated from West Chester University with a bachelor of arts degree in English Literature. He and his family live in Washington, DC.
Greg Breeding studied design and typography at Virginia Commonwealth University, graduating with a bachelor's degree in fine arts. He began his career by working as a designer for several nonprofits. In 1992 Breeding co-founded Journey Group, a design firm where he currently serves as the president.
In addition to his work at Journey, Breeding has taught design courses internationally for nonprofits. Breeding has received numerous industry awards from Print’s Regional Design Annual, Communication Arts, the Society of Publication Designers, and the Florida Magazine Association.
Breeding's first stamp as art director for the U.S. Postal Service was the 2012 issuance, The War of 1812: USS Constitution. “I'm interested in creating art for the public good,” Breeding says, “and honoring a person or event on a stamp highlights and celebrates what's positive in our culture.”
Breeding lives in Charlottesville, Virginia, with his wife, Lyndee.
Workshop of Sassoferrato