Tamsui Landscape


畫布油彩 Oil on canvas

尺寸不詳 Dimensions unknown

中央研究院臺灣史研究所典藏 Collection of Institution of Taiwan History, Academia Sinica



This lost painting had been on display at “The Ninth Taiwan Art Exhibition” in 1935. Though this painting and Tamsui (1), completed in the same year, are similar in composition and landscape, the viewpoint of this painting is somewhat higher. In comparison, in the background of this picture, Guan-yin Mountain and the sandbar are moved to the right so that the expanse of the river appears broader. On the left is the striking spire of the Chapel of Presbyterian church. On the street lots of people open their umbrellas, indicating that the weather is not good. What coloration should this oil painting present?


1. 撐傘人物 Staffage Propping Open Umbrellas

Among the staffage that embellish Chen Cheng-po’s works, “propping an open umbrella” is a recurrent element in his image motifs. The atmosphere of southern Taiwan is reflected by pedestrians opening umbrellas to shield from the sunlight. By contrast, in the humid climate of Tamsui, when so many people open their umbrellas on the street, it may suggest showers of rain as well as an overcast sky.


2. 平面屋頂 Flat Roofs

In the past, owing to the wet climate at Tamsui, almost all kinds of buildings had slope roofs to prevent the accumulation of rainwater. However, since modern techniques of architecture can solve the issue of drainage, the small town has begun to fill with flat-roofed buildings. As a result, when we look down Tamsui from a high place, the view of slope roofs rising up and down has changed.


3. 斜帆 The Lugsail

With a batwing spread, the huge lugsail is a remarkable feature of Chinese sailboats. Sailors use ropes to hoist or lower the sail, or adjust it to catch wind. Normally, a boat will raise its sail only for navigating. Judging from the direction of the sail, the small boat is sailing slowly to the left of the picture plane.


4. 河流上游 The Upper Reaches of the River

Since it was open for navigation and trade, Tamsui has been a harbor for foreign merchant ships to berth. However, Tamsui is not the main consumer-market, but a transit port for exports and imports. The commercial center in northern Taiwan is located at the upper reaches of the Tamsui River, first at Mengchia (now called Wanhua), and then at Dadaocheng. In the picture, the ships sail toward the end of the river, carrying goods to those towns.


5. 車寄 The Carriage Porch

The triangular and pavilion-like structure at the entrance to a building is a “carriage porch,” a distinctive feature of Japanese architecture. In ancient times, the carriage porch was established at the vestibule of the Japanese palace, where oxcarts carrying the nobility could pass through. Later, the carriage porch became a distinguishing characteristic of Japanese architecture. In the wet climate of Taiwan, a carriage porch extending from the entrance of a building can keep the rain away.