Chinese Calendar Painting & Shanghai Posters
Chinese calendar painting or “calendar pictures” first appeared in the twenty second year of the emporer Guangxu of the Qing Dynasty (1896). In that year a draft bank in Shanghai called Hongfulai issued a lottery ticket titled “Colourful Scenes of Shanghai: Chinese and Western Calendar” . The lottery ticket was decorated with a beautiful brush rubbed picture and calendar – thus was born the traditional Chinese Calendar Painting.
The main subject matter of Chinese Calendar Painting pictures was traditional beauty. The four ancient beauties, Xishi, Lady Yang, Wang Zhaojunnad Diaochan were common in ancient costumed beauty pictures, while the famous actresses of the early years of China, like Ruan Lingyu, Hu Die, Lu Meiyu and others became the models for fashion beauty pictures.
The second major theme of the pictures was classical characters, historical stories and modern ladies garments, finally landscape themes and natural Chinese wonders were also featured.
After Shanghai was forced to open her trading port to Western powers, Western businesses first produced their advertisements on the pictures of European classical oil painting portraits and landscape paintings to hand out to their prospective retailers and consumers for the purpose of promoting thier goods into China.
To make the advertising pictures more appealing to their Chinese consumers they employed the format of the traditional Chinese woodcut almanac pictures and meticulously reproduced images of historical characters and stories, legendary subjects and elegant Chinese feminine beauty.
Gradually becoming popular with the Chinese public, and printed on quality paper and in large numbers, these Chinese Calendar Painting posters – bearing trademarks and images of products produced a demand for talented colour lithograph painters of the time such as Zhou Muqiao, Zhao Baisheng, Wu Youru, Zheng Mantou, Xu Yongqing, Jin Meisheng, Xie Zhiguan, Hang Zhiying, Jin Xuecheng, Li Mubai, Ding Yunxian, Hu Boxiang, Ni Gengye, Liang Dingming and others.
Exerting a wide influence on Chinese culture in the 1920’s and 1930’s, and even causing paper shortages during that period of time, Old Shanghai Calendar paintings and pictures have aroused a nostalgic craze amongst collectors world-wide. Many of these beautiful works of art were destroyed during China’s cultural revolution, thus making their posession even more desirable.