- Issue date: 17/11/2004
- Printing Process: Huecograbado
- Paper: estucado engomado fosforescente
- Size of stamp: 28,8 x 40,9 mm.(vertical)
- Sheet effects: 50
- Postal value of the stamps: 0,27 y 0,52 €
- Print run: 1.000.000 de cada valor postal
- Dented: 13 3/4
Two stamps are to be issued to celebrate Christmas 2004. One depicts a scene from the Birth of Christ, part of an 18th century Neapolitan nativity scene, while the other shows a pictorial work entitled The Nativity, by the Madrid artist Juan Manuel Cossío.
In recent years, the stamps issued at Christmas have returned to the theme of pictorial technique, alternating the work and themes of classical painters with those of more contemporary artists. Examples of this include the Christmas issues depicting a painting of Joseph by Ribera-Alfredo Roldán (2001), an altarpiece by Calzadilla-Goyo Domínguez (2002) and The Magi by Alcoy-Raquel Fariñas (2003). The tradition continues this year with a Neapolitan nativity scene from the 18th century and a work by Juan Manuel Cossío.
The Neapolitan nativity scene, shown on the 27 cent stamp, enjoyed great popularity during the reign of Charles II in Naples. Scenes associated with the Birth of Jesus and other biblical depictions, the Announcement to the Shepherds, the Courtege and Adoration of the Magi, are accompanied by popular scenes inspired by places like the market, the tavern, the inn, etc., motifs which became great favourites among the people of the city. They began to develop these Christmas scenes and figures to such an extent that they became real works of art that they would show in their homes over the Christmas period. As a result of their great realism and detail, many of these have now found their way into museums and important collections. Adoration of the Magi is on show at the National Museum of Munich, while others now belong to the Leonetti Collection, the March Cervera de Palma Foundation and the Valladolid National Museum of Sculpture. The work entitled Nativity by the Madrid painter Juan Manuel Cossío, which is depicted on the 52 cent stamp, takes the theme of maternity, imbuing it with a natural and realistic air. This is a very appropriate subject for Christmas from a contemporary point of view. Cossío, an artist who began painting at an early age and whose subjects have ranged from still lives to landscapes and human figures, is clearly captivated by the techniques of the old Flemish and Italian masters. From them he draws his interest for classical pictorial subjects and ideas, which he then depicts in his own singular neo-realistic style.