As the United Kingdom’s premier postal service, Royal Mail knows that stamps are more than just a way to pay for postage. To add a touch of creativity to snail mail, the carrier regularly releases stamps adorned with all sorts of art, from the iconic illustrations of Quentin Blake to a mail-loving menagerie of animals. Most recently, Royal Mail has sent their artsy stamps back in time, opting to decorate them with art by Renaissance artist Leonardo da Vinci.
This series of Leonardo da Vinci stamps comprises 12 pieces by the artist. Rather than showcase widely-known paintings like The Last Supper or the Mona Lisa, Royal Mail decided to feature a selection of drawings by the artist. Though less famous than their painterly counterparts, these pieces—including soft, sfumato portraits, anatomical studies, and botanical sketches—are among some of Leonardo’s most groundbreaking contributions to art history.
What makes these stamps even more special is their timing. Intended to mark the 500th anniversary of the artist’s death, their circulation coincides with a nationwide celebration, Leonardo da Vinci: A Life in Drawing. For this landmark spectacle, 12 institutions across the United Kingdom are simultaneously showing 144 pieces from the Royal Collection, a trust that currently holds “the greatest collection of Leonardo’s drawings in existence.”
To find out more about this once-in-a-lifetime event, stop by the Royal Collection Trust’s website. And, if you can’t make it to one of the museums but still want to honor the Old Master, you can purchase the special edition stamps from Royal Mail.