This poster features Jin Xunhua (金训华), who drowned in August 1969, while trying to prevent utiliity poles from being swept away in a flood. The image appeared first in black and white in Liberation Daily (Jiefang ribao, 解放日报) as an illustration to an article praising Jin Xunhua for his 'selfless sacrifice'.
The illustration was commissioned from the young amateur artist Xu Chunzhong (徐纯中), who was born in Shanghai and sent to the countryside - just like Jin Xunhua. Xu was helped by professional artist Chen Yifei (陈逸飞). The picture was reworked to a color version, and published under the pseudonym Yi Zhong (逸中), a combination of characters from Xu and Chen's given names. Reproduced as poster, it became very well known.
Julia F. Andrews, Painters and Politics in the People's Republic of China, 1949-1979 (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1994), 346-347