Highlights of the month

Design for a stamp showing the Nativity

Emvin Cremona (Maltese, 1919-1987)
Pencil and acrylic paint on paper
14 x 22.7 cm
Study Collection – Prints and Drawings
Emvin Cremona was a very well-established artist in Malta when he started collaborating with the Department of Posts in 1957. He continued producing philatelic designs until 1980. This design showing the Nativity was created for a stamp issued in 1968 as part of a set of three. In this set, Cremona experimented with non-conventional shapes for stamps, choosing a five-sided design that alludes to the shape of a crib. This drawing is a preliminary design of which more finished drawings are preserved at the Malta Postal Museum. This work shows Cremona’s typical elongated and stylised figures and emphasis on linearity. The drawing is mostly monochromatic, ranging from white to different greys to black, but the alternating sharply delineated flat colours create a vibrant contrast. The red rays emanating from the Star of Betlehem above Christ are the more striking because of this subdued palette. Cremona also tried out this design with an orange-brown background which he rejected, presumably precisely because of this contrast he managed to create with the use of greys and black.