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Title: [Original Chinese advertising poster for Gande, Price & Co., Ltd. Hong Kong]
Published in: Shanghai, 1934
Size: 29.5 x 19.7 inches.
75.0 x 50.0 cm.

In printed colors.
Condition: Offset. With a metal strip at the top and the bottom of the poster. Some restorations on the verso. Else in good condition.
Condition Rating

Original vintage Chinese poster for "GANDE, PRICE & CO. LTD., based in Hong Kong, promoting Haig Whisky (from Scotland), Moet & Chandon, Taylor’s London Dry Gin and others. The poster was probably realized by Kwan Cho Mau. ca. 1934.
A young and pretty Asian woman is sitting on the sofa and giving us a tipsy look. The young woman is being “unladylike” because she is sitting with her legs crossed (improper at that time) and with multiple glasses, on the table, she is not alone.

Advertisement characteristic of 'old Shanghai' in the 1920-1940s, a trend started by American newspaperman Carl Crow who lived in Shanghai between 1911 and 1937, starting the first Western advertising agency in the city and creating much of what is thought of today as the 'sexy China Girl' poster and calendar advertisements.
In today's more liberal China, these are making a comeback and are widely considered minor works of art characteristic of 'Old Shanghai'.

The soft, faded lines, intricate detailing, and the strange proportions of vintage Chinese posters might look strange to contemporary Western designers, especially when the idea of ” good advertisement poster design” as taught in design schools has trended towards the minimalist in the past half a century.

Pre-War Shanghai posters are as distinct a genre as anything that came out of Europe in the years between the 1880’s through the 1930’s. Unconventional and sloppy by Western standards, these unique works of advertising art are nevertheless a cultural treasure, not just for China, but the entire world. Originally intended as ephemeral promotions for the vast array of products that flooded China’s forcibly opened economy, these ads have had a lasting influence in the region that could still be seen in some ways today.

Even while they showcased “the modern woman” in the urban Chinese context, many of these advertisements were already outdated by Western standards by the time they appeared in the 1920’s.
However, they also represented a fusion of Oriental and Occidental styles that was unprecedented. If you look at Chinese art from the late 19th century and Western Art Nouveau and Art Deco from the 1880’s through the 1920’s, it’s clear that these posters were heavily influenced by those styles. Shanghai, already a large international economic center back then in the 1920’s, was ground zero for these varied and often risky advertisements. The most common product advertised by far was cigarettes. Smoking after all, was seen as the mark of the “modern woman” at the time. But while tobacco ads dominated the genre, nearly every consumer product available at the time was marketed with these posters at some point.
Posters made plenty of sense as an advertising medium at the time. Most families in China did not own radios, so radio advertisements were relatively limited in utility. Large billboards were also used, but they were comparatively expensive.
Most of these posters were somewhat sexualized, not unlike many print ads today. The recurring theme of a smiling girl in a tight cheongsam or qipao – which was incidentally also invented in the same era – was thoroughly exhausted for every conceivable product.

After the end of WW2 and the rise of the Communist Party, the aesthetics of these capitalist instruments nonetheless made their way into socialist art, albeit with some influences from the Constructivist styles that were popular with Soviet propagandists.
Advertisements in this style continued to persist at least through the 1960’s even as styles more familiar to us today began to emerge.
We no longer see new poster designs for advertisements in this style even in China these days, but their influences can still be seen now and then, especially in East Asia.
Thanks to a revival in interest, more authentic copies of these posters have been documented, and reproductions are now more popular ever. But even this popularity pales compared to the demand for copies of popular European poster examples from the Art Nouveau and Art Deco era. As time marches on, more original copies are lost to us. One hopes in the near future, vintage and antique posters from early-to-mid 20th century China get the worldwide recognition they deserve.

More about Old Shanghai Posters [+}

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ASIATIC LITHOGRAPHIC PRINTING PRESS -  [Original Chinese advertising poster for Gande, Price & Co., Ltd. Hong Kong]
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Lot number: 45059

ASIATIC LITHOGRAPHIC PRINTING PRESS - [Original Chinese advertising poster for Gande, Price & Co., Ltd. Hong Kong]

Price :$ 300
Approx. Euro 252  

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