SCHIFF’S CARTOON ACCOUNT OF SHANGHAI NIGHTLIFE IN THE 1940S, HAND-COLORED AND SIGNED BY HIM
SCHIFF, Friedrich. Maskee: A Shanghai Sketchbook. [Shanghai: Schiff, circa 1940]. Quarto, original accordian-style salmon silk brocade in a bamboo motif. Housed in a custom clamshell box.
Signed limited first edition, number A308 of an undisclosed printing, of this satirical depiction of wartime Shanghai, with 21 full-page cartoons of its infamous nightlife, hand-colored by Schiff and signed by him on the title page.
Shanghai boasts the most colorful nightlife in China. Nightclubs and bars still boom, “with joints opening and closing faster than night can turn into day. Barflies now have a choice of everything from glamorous art deco lounges to the seediest watering hole” (Shanghai Highlights). Before the liberation in 1949, Shanghai attracted visitors from all over the world, many of whom took up permanent residence. By 1932, Shanghai had become the world’s fifth largest city, home to 70,000 foreigners. Austrian artist Friedrich Schiff lived in Shanghai during the 1930s and 40s, and recorded in cartoon form some of the most poignant and ridiculous elements of cross-cultural interaction, particularly in Shanghai’s infamous dance halls. The most famous dance hall at the time was the art deco Paramount, where colorful lights flashed to the rhythms of its Filipino jazz band (featured in one of Schiff’s cartoons). The Paramount hired pretty taxi-dancers to work as escorts, making it the most popular and most expensive dance hall in Shanghai. Here Schiff captures that no-holds-barred ambience.
Fine condition, with only a bit of fading to original silk binding.