St. Mary's altar

Fischer 261 | Michel 282 | Scott 277 | Year of issue 1933 | Pre-war Poland

The 400th anniversary of the death of Wit Stwosz (Veit Stoß). The stamp shows the central part of the late gothic altar tryptych in St. Mary's church in Kraków, created by Veit Stoß.

St. Mary's altar


Veit Stoß (1438-1533, Polish name: Wit Stwosz) was a German sculptor, born in Nürnberg.
An altar tryptych is a painting or, in this case, a sculpture, made in three parts, so that the side ones can be folded inwards over the middle one.
An altarpiece is a painting or a sculpture placed behind the altar table.
Kraków is the ancient capital of Poland, residence for centuries of kings, situated north of the Tatra Mountains on the Vistula river.
The altar is about 42 feet high and 36 feet wide. Veit Stoß started his work in 1477 and he finished it only 12 years later in 1489. The figures, which are larger than lifesize, are carved from linden wood. The complete central section of the alter is called "The death and the assumption of the Blessed Virgin". The stamp displays the Apostles gathered around Mary at the moment of her dormition. In the center you can see Mary kneeling, sinking in the arms of an Apostle. To the left you can see St. Peter with a prayer book in his hand, reading the prayers for the dying. Further left is another Apostle. To the right you can see St. John lifting a cloak to cover Mary's body. At the far right is another Apostle. To the rear are the other Apostles in various attitudes of prayer and grief.


Szczegół ołtarza Marjackiego w Krakowie = A detail of St.Mary's altar in Kraków.

Relevant pages

This issue is overprinted 25 Gr as Fischer 270
The dormition of the Blessed Virgin is also displayed on Fischer 838
Fischer 1035-1040 and miniature sheet Fischer 1041 show more details of the altar tryptych


Veit Stoss
St. Mary's church (Wikipedia)
Web gallery of art - Veit Stoss
Image of the high altar tryptych of St. Mary
St. Mary's church (
Kraków (Wikipedia)
Kraków (
St. Mary stamps (