This beautifully decorated calendar was published in 1930 by the Koninklijke Paketvaart-Maatschappij (KPM). The KPM was a Dutch shipping company for passenger and cargo shipping between the islands in the Indonesian archipelago. The ships also carried the mail. Because there were often delays, people in the Dutch East Indies used to joke that ‘KPM’ stood for ‘Komt Pas Morgen’. Loosely translated: won’t come until tomorrow. Another pun was ‘Kipas Pergi Mana’, where’s my cabin fan?
The calendar design was made by graphic designer Leo Léon, who designed five calendars for the KPM (1927, 1928, 1929, 1930, 1931), all with a painting of the Dutch East Indies. The whimsical and colorful decorations on the calendar shield are characteristic of the style of the Amsterdam School.
The image in the middle is a reproduction of an oil painting by the Dutch artist Johan Gabriëlse (1881-1945), who was best known for his school wall charts and book illustrations of daily life in the Dutch colonies. He made this picture of a Javanese Serimpi dancer in 1921 for the Soehoenan of Solo (the Sultan of Surakarta). The painting can now be viewed in the Tropenmuseum in Amsterdam.
After his first study trip in 1920/21, Gabriëlse left again in 1938 to the Dutch East Indies to live and work there for a longer period of time. This turned out to be a fateful decision. When the war broke out, he was unable to return to the Netherlands. Like other Dutchmen, Gabriëlse was locked up by the Japanese in one of the many internment camps. He ended up in camp St. Louis in Ambarawa on Java, a camp for men and boys. Despite the difficult living conditions in the camp, he continued to practice his profession. He gave drawing lessons and sketched the daily life of the prisoners. Gabriëlse died of exhaustion on June 16, 1945.