Propaganda 1




Paul Bevan, University of Oxford

 Wartime Cartoon Publications in Guangzhou 1938

Following the emergence of a modern cartooning art in Shanghai with the formation of the Cartoon Society in 1926 this art form underwent many changes during the 1930s. Having been part of the art-for-art’s-sake discourse of the 1920s, by the middle of the following decade the cartoon had transformed as part of a unique popular/intellectual publishing phenomenon which owed much to foreign pictorial magazines such as the American Vanity Fair. By 1937, with the outbreak of war in China, the cartoon became a fully-fledged propaganda tool in the hands of left-wing artists and played a major role in the dissemination of the message of resistance amongst the Chinese people. With the fall of Shanghai, the cartoonists, most of whom had previously been resident in that city, fled to other parts of China, including the port of Guangzhou. This paper examines a selection of wartime publications produced in Guangzhou in 1938 in order to demonstrate how the cartoon developed according to the needs of a local population eager to digest material in support of the fight against fascism. A supplement to the newspaper National Salvation Daily and two dedicated cartoon magazines Art and Literature Battleground and Cartoon Battle-line will form the main subject matter of this paper. An in depth examination of these will show the unique approach adopted by the Chinese to the production of an art form which held a central position in the modern art scene in China throughout the 1930s and 1940s.



Richard Slocombe, Imperial War Museums (IWM)

“Strange, but true”: Re-examining state artistic patronage in Britain during the First World War

“I have told him to develop his own genius – however bitter and uncompromising!!”

(“Nevinson, CRW”, ART/WA1/291/1, IWM War Artists Archive)

This was the advice of Charles Masterman, head of Britain’s wartime propaganda bureau, to the Modernist painter CRW Nevinson, as stated in a letter to Edward Hudson, founder of Country Life magazine, on 29 October 1917. It belies the common perception of  British ‘war art’ in the First World War as an expression of a decimated, disillusioned ‘lost generation’ at odds with the Edwardian establishment responsible for its demise. This paper seeks to redefine that relationship by revealing a more complex and dynamic interface between the state and modern art in Britain in the First World War.  It will maintain that during the conflict Britain’s official war art programme was unrivalled in the extent of its patronage of experimental art, and far from being in opposition to authority, ‘jeunes’ like Nevinson, Paul Nash and Wyndham Lewis profited from the state’s investment. By examining this unlikely collaboration, the paper references Britain’s clandestine propaganda apparatus powered by a cultured elite of politicians, publishers, prominent writers and critics linked to the country’s most progressive art circles. It will consider what ‘propaganda’ meant for elevated Liberal society and explain how British modern art could contribute to an over-arching strategy aimed at conveying a notion of war waged to defend liberal democracy, progressive thought and free expression. The paper concludes by focusing upon the climax of Britain’s wartime artistic patronage; a scheme to build a permanent artistic memorial to the First World War.  Led by the novelist, Arnold Bennett, the British War Memorials Committee was not just determined to initiate a new modern ‘history painting’, apt for the remembrance of the ‘war to end all wars’, but sought also to forge a new artistic consensus. However, in  democratically uniting the country’s youthful avant-garde with its most enterprising Royal Academicians the Committee not only established the aesthetic cannons through which the conflict would in future be perceived, but also bore hopes of a new society to emerge in Britain post-war.


Malvern, Sue (2004). Modern Art, Britain and the Great War. London & New Haven: Yale University Press.

Harries, Meirion & Susie (1983).  The War Artists. London: Michael Joseph.

Gregory, Adrian (2008). The Last Great War: British Society and the First World War. Cambridge University Press.

Pugh, Martin (2008). State and Society: A Social History of Britain Since 1870. London: Bloomsbury Academic (3rd edition)



Ya-chen Ma, National Tsing Hua University, Taiwan

 From Personal Accomplishment to Imperial Achievement: Images of War in Late Imperial China

The topic of war in China is usually discussed by historians of politics, economy, society or technology, and is seldom considered from the visual perspective. Compared to previous periods, however, both the quality and quantity of visual representations of war increased dramatically during the Ming (1368-1644) and Qing (1644-1911) dynasties. This project aims to explore the contexts in which pictorial representations of war developed and abounded in late imperial China. Whereas records concerning images of contemporary wars were rarely produced under the past dynasties, Ming anthologies amazingly include many poems commemorating pictures of recent battles. I argue that most such Ming images of war focus on one particular individual’s military achievement and were related to the popularity of visual commemoration among officials who supervised local or frontier uprisings. This trend of commemorating individual military accomplishment was neither confined to the officials’ circle and the borders of China nor interrupted by the Ming/Qing transition. The Chinese officials who went to Korea to help resist the Toyotomi Hideyoshi’s invasion of the peninsula (1592) also transmitted this visual culture to Chosǒn. The Manchus who were based in Northeast China and founded the Qing empire were not immune to the mania. Hung Taiji’s (1592-1643) compilation of Pictorial Veritable Records of Taizu depicting Nurgaci’s (1559-1626) career, particularly his military success, could thus be viewed as a Qing imperial invention combining the textual tradition of Veritable Records and the Ming visual tradition of commemorating wars as individual achievements. Images of individual military accomplishments, however, almost disappeared in the Qianlong era (1736-1795). Meanwhile, the Qianlong court sponsored numerous images of war, including the remarkable copperplate prints East Turkestan Campaign which were drafted by the Jesuits in China and sent to Paris for engraving and printing. While the East Turkestan Campaign has been the preeminent case for the so-called “Western influence on Chinese painting” theory, I will demonstrate that the Chinese adoption of Western techniques was a conscious choice meant to serve political claims that originated from domestic cultural contexts. My project will trace the development of imperial military culture at the Qing court in relation to the disappearance of images depicting individual military deeds. I will particularly show how the Qianlong emperor transformed the Ming visual practices centered on individuals and constructed the ultimate image of imperial military achievement.


Waley-Cohen, Joanna. (2006). The Culture of War in China: Empire and the Military under the Qing Dynasty. London: I.B. Tauris.

Rawski, Evelyn and Jessica Rawson, eds. (2006). China: The Three Emperors: 1662-1795. London: Royal Academy of Art.

Pelliot, Paul. (1921). ‘Les Conquêtes de l’empereur de la Chine’ T’oung Pao 20, 183-274.


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