Saturday, June 25, 2016

Austria 2016 - Glass Stamp – Pieta and Cross

ISSUE DATE: 10 June 2016

With this glass stamp Austrian Post is presenting a very special, exclusive stamp and once again showing a great deal of innovative spirit when it comes to stamp design – to date no stamp valid for franking has ever been made out of glass anywhere in the world. The glass stamp shows one of the famous “Sandlbilder”: a reverse glass painted Pietà from the Upper Austrian municipality of Sandl. In reverse glass painting the design is painted on the back of the glass, enabling the front to be cleaned easily, which was a big advantage in the smoke-filled farmhouse parlours of yesteryear. 

There is a long tradition of reverse glass painting in Sandl. This is because there were many glass works in the nearby Bohemian forests, from which sheets of glass could be acquired easily and cheaply. 

Glass painting provided peasant families with a welcome additional source of income, during the winter the whole family worked together to produce the mostly religious designs step by step, each member of the family having his or her own particular task e.g. painting in the outlines or filling in the coloured areas. The traditional design of the Pietà (also known as a Vesperbild in German) dates back to the 14th century. It shows the Virgin Mary weeping over the dead body of her crucified son, Jesus. She is usually depicted alone, cradling the body of her son in her arms. The subject of the Mother of Sorrows probably came to Sandl via the devotional images which were supposed to remind believers of Christ’s suffering. The reverse glass painting used in this glass stamp comes from the last quarter of the 19th century. The painters are unknown – as was usual, the work was a collaborative effort. Particularly noteworthy aspects are the bold colours and the expressive brush strokes, which strongly emphasise Mary’s pain and Jesus’ suffering. 

The seven swords in Mary’s heart symbolise the seven sorrows of the Mater Dolorosa, the Mother of Sorrows, Mary, whilst the tendrils of flowers below the cross represent the hope which Jesus’ sacrifice brings to all people. The Viennese porcelain manufacturer Augarten is responsible for the time-consuming production of the glass stamp. Every glass blank will be hand-crafted, with all production following ecological principles. The design will be applied to the back of the glass by hand using non-fading pigments and a special silkscreen printing process. The colours will then be heat-treated, thereby ensuring that the design is firmly bonded to the glass and giving the glass a particularly high tensile strength. The high quality, mostly hand-crafted production, the unusual material and the traditional, hand-painted design all make this stamp very special. Folk art and innovative production techniques will thus be combined to produce a very special miniature work of art.

Stamp images and description thanks to Austrian Post - Österreichische Post
La Poste