Forts Zeelandia and Provintia and the City of Tainan

Unidentified artist

Not on view

This pictorial map depicts the Taiwanese coastal town of Tainan, where the Dutch built two forts around 1624, remnants of which still survive today. In addition to showcasing the European-style forts with their distinctive masonry architecture, the painting records a wealth of other details, including Chinese-style walled towns, farmhouses on stilts, and numerous vignettes of dailym life featuring both people in Chinese dress and half-naked indigenous people.

Several versions of this composition—all painted on deerskin—are extant. Although each of the versions is somewhat different, the use of stamps or stencils to reproduce many of the pictorial elements suggests that, like Chinese painted wallpapers, it was created in a workshop for the Western market. While a precise date for the map's creation is difficult to pinpoint, the absence of foreign ships or figures indicates that the composition postdates the departure of the Dutch in 1662, and the presence of a city wall, which was not built until 1791, suggests that the painting, acquired at auction from a German collection in 1909, probably dates to the nineteenth century.

Forts Zeelandia and Provintia and the City of Tainan, Unidentified artist (Chinese, active 19th century), Wall hanging; ink and color on deerskin, China

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