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Description/The construction of Taipei City can be traced back to 1875 when Shen Baozhen submitted a request to the Qing imperial court to establish the Taipei Prefecture. Work began in 1879 on the square-shaped city and her five gates: North, South, East, West and Small South (Xiaonan) Gates. During early Japanese rule, the Governor-General's Office executed a new urban plan, in which the city walls were demolished and appropriated as construction materials for other public projects. The walls around East Gate were the first to be demolished in this undertaking. In 1901, walls north of the gate were taken down to make way for a thoroughfare, which was to be built to accommodate an inauguration festival for the newly completed Taiwan Shrine. Other walls and the West Gate were subsequently dismantled, leaving behind only four gates. The subject of this painting is Taipei's East Gate. At that time, the walls were already dismounted but the original Qing-period gate was still in place (today's Jingfu Gate was reconstructed in 1966). Chen Cheng-po positions the gate at the cross-point of the painting's diagonals and underscores the importance of the structure by leaving a large void in the background. He renders the painting with bright color patches and delineates the roof profile and window openings of the gate with multiple lines of orange-red and brown-purple. The simplicity of the rest of the picture—trees, the pluming chimney in the left back and the figures—stands out in a curious contrast with the gate. Although the figures are described with merely rough outlines, objects such as a straw hat and a parasol are easily identified. The chimney as a symbol of industrialization, a lady strolling under a parasol and a worker lugging his goods all reflect a Taiwanese society in transition, and these everyday life scenes add nuances of intimacy and vivacity to the ancient gate.
- Hanni Chiu, “The Sketching Artist on the Street—Images and Urban Spaces in Taipei during the Japanese Colonial Period” (Master's thesis, Graduate Institute of Art History, National Taiwan University, Taipei City, 2000), 13-14, 24.
- Shihming Pai, "'Sketching from Life’ and the Formation of the Modern Landscape: An Analysis of Chen Cheng-Po's Early Watercolors (1913-1924) and Their Significance in Modern Paintings," in The Spring of Alishan—New Perceptions on Chen Cheng-Po and Taiwanese Art History, ed. Soka Arts and Cultural Center Committee (Taipei City: Chin-Shuan Cultural & Educational Foundation, 2013), 92-135.