Calendar Posters of Kwan Wai-nung
> Kwan Wai-nung and his family
Kwan Wai-nung and his family
Born in 1880 in Nanhai, Guangdong, Kwan Wai-nung gained recognition as the "Master of Calendar Posters" in the 1920s. Kwan came to Hong Kong in 1905, and worked for a time at the Man Yu Tong Bookstore. Kwan’s grandfather, Kwan Tso-lam, was a celebrated Chinese painter of pictures for export, and from early on, Kwan had mastered Western painting techniques by learning from the famous English Painter George Chinnery. He also studied traditional Chinese painting, in particular the powder-and-water technique under Ju Lian, a prominent master of the Lingnan School. In 1912, when Gao Jianfu (1897-1951) founded the magazine Truth Pictorial in Shanghai, he used two of Kwan’s watercolours Fishing at a Deserted Pond and Reading at Dawn. This publicity cast Kwan as an object of limelight and imitation. In 1911, Kwan became the head of the art and printing department of South China Morning Post, responsible for graphic design and lithographic printing. He later founded Asiatic Lithographic Printing Press in 1915, and immersed himself in designing and printing advertisements. In his late years, Kwan handed over the lithographic business to his son. In 1940, he published the Chinese Water-colour Painting collecting his best works.
Kwan was particularly talented in depicting the female figure. Bringing together Western and Chinese painting styles and drawing inspirations from the Lingnan School, he created many hugely popular calendar posters applying Western watercolour and perspective techniques. The iconic "Two Girls" poster designed by Kwan for cosmetics brand Kwong Sang Hong remains one of the most popular trademarks today. Other famous works include "Yang Yuhuan, Beauty of the Tang Dynasty" for Wing Lee Wai Winery and the "Filial Piety" series for The National Lacquer & Paint Products Co. Ltd.
Two of Kwan Wai-nung’s five sons, Kwan Zou-mau and Kwan Zou-loeng were both poster calendar artists. The Kwans’ family set up a number of companies in Hong Kong such as mercantile Printing Press Co. Limited, Tin Tsun Lithographic Works Limited, Golden Key Advertising and Decorating Company Limited, and Paramount Advertising Limited.
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