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United in Art— Artist Groups and Their Network of Activities during the Japanese Colonial Period

A digital collection of archival documents has been in development over the recent years under the auspices of the Archives of Institute of Taiwan History, Academia Sinica. It includes the profiles of such artists from the preceding generations as Chen Cheng-Po, Yen Hsuei-Long, Chen Chih-Chi, Pu Tian-Sheng, Liu Chi-Hsiang, Kuo Hsueh-Hu in addition to papers of the nature of cultural patronage from Yang Zhao-Jia as well as private collections of works of calligraphy and painting and other historical materials. This article focuses on the activities of important artist groups that Taiwanese painters helped to create during the first half of the 20th century. Through selected private manuscripts, letters and documents, images, newspapers and magazines housed in the Archives, the exploration of interactions between various parties in the history of modern art - including individual artists, the painting groups and their patrons - reveals how the arts and society developing in parallel and prospering in unison!

I. Tainanfu: The Qing Official to Tainan

A Brief History of Tainanfu

In 1602, the Netherlands established the Dutch East India Company (VOC) to explore business prospects in Asia. The Netherlands had invaded Penghu in 1604 and 1622 to occupy a trading spot in East Asia. However, since the Ming Dynasty frequently defended this territory, the VOC retreated from Penghu to Taiwan. Acquiesced by the Ming Dynasty, the Dutch founded Fort Zeelandia and Fort Provintia in Tainan as the trading and administrative centers of it colonization in Southern Taiwan. Even after the Ming Dynasty was replaced by the Qing hegemony in 1644, Ming forces continued to attack and try to reassert power. Among the counter forces, Koxinga (1624-1662), Zheng Cheng-gong, took Taiwan as a base to conquer the Qing Dynasty. In 1661, he defeated Dutch forces by capturing Fort Zeelandia and Fort Provintia. He established Cheng Tian Fu and founded the Zheng Kingdom in Tainan. In 1863, Shi Lang (1621-1696), a Qing official, made a conquest and ceased the Zheng’s 22 years of governance in Taiwan. In 1684, Taiwan was included in the Qing’s territory and its capital city was located in today’s Tainan.

Le fort Zélandia au temps de l'occupation hollandaise. 荷蘭人佔領時期的普羅民遮城(1671年繪)
圖1:Le fort Zélandia au temps de l'occupation hollandaise. A sketch of Fort Zeelandia during Dutch colonization, as portrayed in 1671.
 Source: Identifier: A0231_00_00Taiwan Rare Book Collections

A Brief Journey through Tinanfu

The Qing official Shen Bao-zhen (1820-1879) was born in Fujian, Houguan. After the Mudan Incident broke out in 1874, he was assigned to Taiwan to negotiate with the Japanese army and to reinforce defensible constructions in Taiwan. He not only built artillery batteries in Anping and Kiau but also sent vessels stationed in Taipei, Xiamen, and Fuzhou. He asked the emperor for permission to develop the arable field and to rearrange the administrative divisions. In addition, he built the temple of Koxinga in order to comfort local people. He also commissioned students at the Fuzhou Naval College to draw Taiwan maps and pictures of indigenous customs, creating precious records of Taiwan and the indigenous people at that time.

Figure 2: The main gate of the Koxinga Temple and its statue.
Source: Identifier: A0151_00_00, Taiwan Rare Book Collections
Figure 3: The ruins of Eternal Golden Castle in Anping.
Source: Identifier: A0167_00_00, Taiwan Rare Book Collections
Figure 4: A map of Taiwan in 1875.
Source: Provided by the Palace Museum (Peking)
Figure 5: A portrayal and description of trading between Han Chinese and an indigenous Taiwanese community in the 1870s.
Source: Provided by the Palace Museum (Peking)

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