1899 Chinese Manuscript View of Qingdao / Tsingtao

[Tsingtao] - Main View

1899 Chinese Manuscript View of Qingdao / Tsingtao


Earliest view of Tsingtao or Qingdao - drawn shortly after the German takeover.


  1899 (undated)     37 x 55 in (93.98 x 139.7 cm)


This is an outstanding c. 1899 Chinese manuscript view of the city of Qingdao (Tsingtao), China, as it appeared early in the German colonial period. The view looks on the city from the northwest and is hand-painted by an unknown Chinese artist on silk or linen in a traditional style. The view looks northwest on the city.
Understanding and Dating the View
From the state of development, it is clear that this view was prepared shortly after the 1898 German takeover and is probably the earliest view of Tsingtao. The original Chinese fishing village of Jiao-ao (胶澳), apparent just right of center, comprises the densest cluster of buildings, all clearly in a Chinese style. The newer German city, surrounding the pier, exhibits little development compared to views of the city drawn between 1905 and 1910. The fishing fleet is apparent near the Chinese city while a German steamship rests in the harbor. Artillery and heavy fortifications at various high points overlooking the harbor make clear that Germany intended to keep its new colony.
Kiautschou Bay Concession (1898 to 1914)
In 1890 the Qing Chinese Shandong Province city of Jiao-ao (胶澳) was little more than a fishing village. The Qing Empire, recognizing the city's potential strategic importance began fortifying the port in 1891. This work drew the attention of German naval officers who, just offshore, were completing a formal survey of Jiaozhou Bay. They too recognized the port to be strategically significant and potentially an ideal center for a German base in Asia.

German forces invaded Jiao-ao, renamed as Tsingtao, in 1898, forcing the Qing to agree to the Kiautschou Bay Concession, granting Germany control over Tsingtao and the surrounding parts of Shandong. Germany had big plans for Tsingtao and outfitted the impoverished fishing village with wide streets, solid housing areas, government buildings, electrification throughout, a sewer system, and a safe drinking water supply. The Germans continued to administer Tsingtao until the outbreak of World War I in 1914, when it was seized by Japanese forces.
Other Views of Tsingtao
Curiously, unlike most colonial centers in China, Tsingtao is well represented in early Chinese views. We can only presume that this is related to an established tradition of landscape painting in Shandong as well as German interest in views. Only two other examples of views of Tsingtao from this period are known dating to 1908 and 1910: one is in private hands, the other in an institutional collection in Germany. Both of these later views exhibit heavy development, suggesting that this is the earliest known view of Tsingtao, drawn shortly after the occupation. Truly a once in a lifetime opportunity.


Good. Soiling. Creasing.