In praise of Mao, the deadly leader
A young man strides out of mountainous countryside, a priestly figure wearing robes ruffled by the wind, with a red scroll beneath one arm and the other hand clenched into a fist.
It is a benign image - and a travesty of the reality. The visionary figure is a 24-year-old Mao Zedong but the portrait was painted when the Chinese dictator was in his seventies. It is hard to comprehend that he had by then overseen the deaths of up to 45 million people between 1958 - 1962 in the disastrous Great Leap Forward which imposed industrial and agricultural reform on the people with a ferocious and deadly zeal.
Entitled Mao Zedong Goes To Anyuan the painting became one of the most popular representations of the Great Helmsman and is one of the most telling images in Cultural Revolution, an exhibition of posters glorifying the dictator at The William Morris Museum in Walthamstow, London.