Chinese Nianhua ‘New Year’ Woodblock
Series 1 and 2
A folio of 16 coloured woodblock prints published by Rong Bao Zhai (Jung Pao Chai), in 1949.
These newly created prints were copied from earlier produced, black and white, prints on the same themes.
The size of the 1949 prints was reduced to a standard paper size of 29.5 x 19.8 cm, and was released in 1950. The size of the actual prints varies slightly from plate to plate. The prints are numbered 1 to 8 twice, for reasons that are unexplained. The vendor believed these sets to have been produced as corporate gifts, rather than for general sales. The prints are stored in a simple Jung Pao Chai folder.
Nianhua prints were originally produced in monochrome. On the instruction of Chairman Mao in 1949, the current posters are polychrome copies version of earlier monochrome prints, (or, occasionaly paintings), separate woodblocks had to be cut, one for each colour. See ‘comparative prints’.
As a point of interest to the Western mind, a woodblock print is a print created from a block of wood which the artist both cuts and printed from. In this instance, coloured version of such prints were published by Jung Pao Chai, famous Beijing publishers, also known as Rongbaochai.
This firm had been publishing art-books since the late 19th century, specializing in quality reproductions of earlier artworks. These could be calligraphy, poetry, woodblock prints or paintings. Their reputation for high quality products have made their prints accepted as original works of art in their own right, with the prints credited to the artist who cut the original woodblock.
Series 1 and 2 of this page were produced in 1949 and two of the prints shown here were included in the catalogue of the ‘All-China Conference of Representatives of Literary and Art Workers’ exhibition in Beijing in October1949.These examples are: Series 2 nr. 1. Yen Han. ‘Placing Explosives Behind Enemy Lines, with the earlier print in black and white and copied in a coloured version. Nr 4 in the same series is Mo Pu’s, ‘The Day of Reckoning’ which, in its original form was a large oil painting which, in the copied version is titled, ‘The Hour of Reckoning’. (Mo Pu, was Head of the Hangzhou Academy of Art at the time).
These 20 prints date from 1950 – 1952 with many of them being reproduced in publications of that period. They are an accumulation of individual prints, brought together and currently being studied to establish their details such as which prints belong to which specific folder.
Series 4, 5 and 6
These are three sets of 10 prints, each numbered 1 to 10. This numbering has come about from a collection of individual prints from which we made 3 sets with numbers 1 to 10, not according to how they were published.
Series 1 - Chinese, English and Russian language. Size: 20.2 x 29.2 cm
Series 2 - Chinese, English and Russian language. Size: 20.2 x 29.2 cm
Series 3 - Chinese Language only. Size: 24.8 X 33.8 cm
Series 4 - Chinese, English and Russian language. Size: 24.8 X 33.8 cm
Series 5 - Chinese, English and Russian language. Size: 24.8 X 33.8 cm