Saturday 8 February 2020

Immortalizing art through stamps

07.02.2020 - Anyone who has ever paid a visit to the UPU’s International Bureau in Berne, Switzerland, has probably taken note of the beautiful works of art throughout its halls, gifted by member countries. Some of the artists featured there also have a unique connection to the philatelic world.

Karl Bickel
Born in 1886, Karl Bickel was a Swiss painter, an illustrator and a designer whose specialty was copper engraved postage stamps. More than 100of his works were created for his biggest customer, the Swiss Post, including the first air stamp issued in 1923. His work reached domestic as well as an international audience, with more than 11 billion copies of his stamp designs in circulation. The mastery of his art is shown through the various portraits, landscapes and images of innovations he created for his homeland.
An artwork with his signature was given to the UPU by the Swiss authorities in 1924 for the
50th anniversary of the establishment of the Union. The comprehensive copper etching reproduced in black ink presents the UPU’s monument in Berne, created by French sculptor René de Saint-Marceaux and erected in 1909.

Bickel’s very first collection consisted of a set of ten air stamps and was issued by Switzerland in 1923.
Marko ?elebonovi?
Marko ?elebonovi? was one of Serbia’s most prominent painters. Born in 1902 in Belgrade, he later settled down in France. His affinity towards creation led him to study under Antoine Bourdelle, a former student of Auguste Rodin and a teacher of Henri Matisse and Alberto Giacometti. ?elebonovi?’s painting style transformed through several phases, starting with drawings produced in the 1920s, modernist art in the 1930s, colourful creations between the 1950s and 1960s and “white” paintings produced during last two decades of his life.
An oil on canvas of his from 1952 capturing the backside of the basilica in Sveti Stefan (Montenegro) was given to the UPU by the former Yugoslav authorities in 1955.
A set of six commemorative postage stamps titled “Art in Yugoslavia through centuries” and issued in 1973 featured his painting “Woman and head”.
Abdur Rahman Chughtai
Abdur Rahman Chughtai’s distinctive style was influenced by variety of sources, including Mughal art, Islamic calligraphy, miniaturist painting and Art Nouveau. Born in 1897 in Punjab, he is considered as one of the most important Islamic artists of the early 20th century, receiving the Presidential Medal for Pride of Performance from the Government of Pakistan in 1958. The “Chughtai Art Set”, a set of 9 postage stamps he designed for Pakistan’s Independence Day in 1951, were considered the most beautiful stamps in the world at that time.
In the 1953, the Government of Pakistan gave a watercolour portrait of the Mughal princess painted by Chughtai to the UPU.
The 1 Re stamp engraved with an Urdu inscription reading "Long Live Pakistan" was the first indigenous Pakistani stamp and belonged to a four-piece set issued in 1948.
Sèvres porcelain
In 18th century, porcelain was considered a highly prized commodity around the world. Much of Europe’s porcelain at the time came from a well-known French manufacturer, the “Manufacture nationale de Sèvres”.
The famous pottery originated from the French Vincennes factory, which had enjoyed a privileged status thanks to financial support from King Louis XV and Madame de Pompadour. By 1756 the Vicennes premises became too small to cope with growing requests and a new factory was built in the village of Sèvres. Technical and artistic innovations throughout the 19th and 20th centuries have helped the brand stand the test of time and the manufacturer still produces high quality porcelain to this day.
A beautiful porcelain vase covered with cobalt blue lapis under glossy gold lustre, created by French sculptor Henri Lagriffoul and manufactured in Sèvres was given to the UPU by the French authorities in 1953.
France has even issued a postage stamp commemorating 200th anniversary of the Sèvres factory’s founding. The stamp was designed by Pierre Munier in 1957.

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