Landscape Sketch (116)-SB18: 34
紙本鋼筆Pen on paper
Not only is history preserved in documents and heritage sites, but vestiges of history also remain in a painter’s sketchbooks. This landscape sketch is a good example. Compared with the old photographs of Tamsui, the two structures depicted in the sketch must be the “Black House,” which had disappeared during World War II, and the existing residence previously owned by Tada Eikichi, the Head of Tamsui Street.
In the background, the Western-style house with striking rows of arches on the exterior looks, at first glance, exactly like the Little White House, a famous historic building at Tamsui. However, compared with the old photographs from the Japanese colonial period, the characteristics of the pictorial building correspond more closely to those of the so-called “Black House,” a Western-style house known to the old locals at Tamsui. The Black House had existed to the south of the Little White House till 1940.
The Black House and the Little White House have a similar story: both buildings were constructed by the Tamsui Tax Department at the end of the Qing Dynasty, and both belonged to the Tamsui Customs Office during the Japanese rule period. In the late 1930s, both Western-style houses were deserted and run-down. Near the end of World War II, the Black House had disappeared from the earth in an aerial photograph taken by the American army. Rarely can we find any historical data about the Black House; notwithstanding, this drawing records its appearance in 1934 and thus leaves a valuable profile of the Black House in history.
In the foreground, the Japanese-style structure is circled by two paths. In view of its exterior and the relative position, it must be the former residence of Tada Eikichi. Chen Cheng-po made this sketch in the year when the construction work of the house was newly completed, and shortly before Mr. Tada was relieved of his office as the Head of Tamsui Street (i.e. the administrative chief of Tamsui Township at that time).1 Mr. Tada and his family had lived in this residence until they returned to Japan at the end of World War II.
Bits of the past history have left their traces unexpectedly. Whenever Chen Cheng-po opened a sketchbook, landscapes of the time would be transmitted onto the paper via his pen and ink. He not only constructed a painting but also wrote down a story.