The Inter-Governmental Philatelic Corporation of New York, and Lesotho, a former British protectorate situated in Southern Africa, combined to produce a beautiful 10-stamp sheetlet and a two-stamp souvenir sheet for China '99 World Philatelic Exhibition August 21-30 in Beijing.
The stamps pay tribute to Pan Tianshou, (1897-1971) a great modern master of traditional Chinese painting. Born in Ninghai County, Zhejiang Province, he taught primary school while he painted in his spare time. In 1923, he went to Shanghai where he gained immediate recognition for his work , and he soon became a professor of traditional painting at Shanghai College of Fine Arts. After the founding of the People's Democratic Republic of China, Pan Tianshou was appointed president of the Zhejiang Academy of Fine Arts.
Tianshou distinguished himself with his bird-and-flower and landscape paintings which were executed in the freehand style utilizing a calligraphic technique combined with the "splashed ink" approach at which Tianshou was a master. It was from the bird-and-flower paintings that Lesotho and IGPC chose images for the special stamp tribute to Tianshou.
The stamps in the sheetlet , which are all in 1.50 maloti denominations, are unusually tall, vertical designs which allow a significant view of the artist's expression. They depict Water-Lily at Night, Hen and Chicks, Plum Blossom and Orchid, Plum Blossom and Banana Tree, Crane and Pine, Swallows, Eagle on the Pine, Palm Tree, Eagle on the Pine (a second image), and Orchids.
The two stamp souvenir sheet features Tainshou's Sponge Gourd and Dragonfly. The sheet is further enhanced by a head-and-shoulders drawing of the artist and appropriate information relating to China '99.
These stamps are a wonderful addition to a specialist collection of art on stamps. Some collectors will cherish them for the exceptional artistic expression that stamp designer Yuan Lee was able to transmit from painting to stamp.
The stamps are a superb example of Tainshou's craftsmanship and artistic expression. They evoke a poetic spirit, another of Tianshou's pursuits.
Michael O. Nowlan was born in Chatham, New Brunswick Canada. He grew up on a nearby farm, was educated, and became a teacher. In retirement, he follows his life-long avocation of writing. His credits include 16 books (four books of poems, two children's titles, and anthologies for schools). In recent years, he has written extensively about stamp collecting for CANADIAN STAMP NEWS, GIBBONS INTERNATIONAL STAMP NEWS, and other philatelic publications.