Apparently, Monvoisin's first engraved stamp was for Vietnam, issued in 1964, but I can't find any records of that in my catalogues. His first French stamp was issued in 1967, the 1 franc Rodez Cathedral value of the annual Tourism set. But today I'm showing you his engravings for a set issued in Gabon in 1978, to mark the 450th death anniversary of an important engraver, whose work has been interpreted by many stamp engravers:
2) Albrecht Dürer (1471-1528)
While famous as a multi-talented artist, for us he is of major importance because he basically stood at the cradle of engraving as an art form. Dürer introduced the idea of circulating engraved prints of his paintings, which were mainly hidden away in private collections. It became the fashionable way of making (and owning!) art, a tradition which lasted until relatively recently. Many of our late 19th / early 20th century stamp engravers will have had a stab at this as well. One of Dürer's earliest works was a self-portrait which he drew when only 13. It is shown on the 100 francs value from the 1978 Gabon set. The second value from the set shows another portrait, of yet another engraver, namely:
3) Lucas van Leyden (1494-1533)
Whilst many of Dürer's German contemporaries tried to mimick his engraving art, most were too intimidated by Dürer's statue and fame to be able to produce anything worthwhile. So it fell to a Dutchman, Lucas van Leyden, to continue the work Dürer started. The two met, in 1521, when Dürer made the Van Leyden portrait on this stamp, and most sources state that they became friends, although one or two sources also claim that a rivalry grew between the two men, when Van Leyden's fame started to match if not outshine that of Dürer's.
Now, many centuries later, it is Dürer's work which is still celebrated all over the world. In sharp contrast,Van Leyden's work hardly ever features on stamps, but I'm glad I can at least show you one example of his engravings, featuring on the annual art set issued by the Czech Republic in 1994, engraved by Milos Ondracek.