Lotus Pond

Lotus Pond

National Treasure

National Treasure Intro


Lin Yu-San’s Lotus Pond is in the collection of the National Taiwan Museum of Fine Arts, it is one of the treasures of that museum.

Lin Yu-San (1907-2004) was from Chiayi, his father operated a painting shop called Fengyaxuan. From a young age, Lin Yu-San was under the guidance of two painters from his own family, who exposed him to traditional Chinese religious folk painting. In 1922, Lin Yu-San started to study ink painting with the painter Isaka Kyokko, and study still life drawings with Chen Cheng-Po, and encountered watercolor painting, and other western style techniques, such as sketching. With the encouragement of Isaka Kyokko and Chen Cheng-Po, Lin Yu-San went to Japan in 1926 to study at the Kawabata Painting School in Tokyo.

The first Taiwan Fine Arts Exhibition was held in 1927, Lin Yu-San, Kuo Hsueh-Hu, and Chen Chin were the three Taiwanese painters selected for the East Asian Painting exhibition, they were known as“The Taiwan Fine Arts Exhibition three young painters”.

Lotus Pond won an award at the fourth Taiwan Fine Arts Exhibition. The painting is composed from an oblique angle, starting from the upper left corner to the lower right corner to create a visually dynamic point of view. The field of lotus flowers in the painting is a metaphor for the development of life: the egret in the lower left corner wading slowly in the water, glaring at the small fish that are leisurely swimming below the surface of the water, adds dynamic and vigorous elements to an otherwise static scene.

The deep interconnected tones in the painting capture the moment at dawn, creating a uniquely warm and spiritual atmosphere, highlighting the author’s sublime skill in using color, the unconstrained nature of the ink, and his profound artistic talent.

This work combines the traditional Chinese style of using strong colors with the delicate techniques of Japanese painting, and the realism of Western painting. It was approved by the Ministry of Culture in 2015 and designated as a national treasure.

Lotus Pond was completed in 1930, it is a classic work of art left by Lin Yu-San for Taiwan’s fine art history. It combines the characteristics of painting styles from Taiwan, Japan, and China. This painting is based on Niuchou Mountain in Chiayi, Lin Yu-San sought to paint realistically, so he depicted the lotus flowers at their most beautiful moment, which is when the first light of day shines on them.

Lin Yu-San waited with his friend and painter Lin Tong-Ling by the side of the pond at Niuchou Mountain at the dead of night. They had to endure the onslaught from the mosquitoes, and wait for dawn to come, when the lotus flowers would bloom.

To create truth and realism with this painting, Lin Yu-San made a sketch immediately at the moment when the flowers started to bloom.

Lin Yu-San secluded himself for a month to paint this masterpiece, it has now become not only his representative work, but also a masterpiece expressing the local culture of Taiwan. In terms of color, he believed that the lotus flowers in Taiwan have their own characteristics, and the soil in Niuchou Mountain was red terracotta, the water in the pond was also red.

Therefore, he spared no expense and exerted a lot of effort to apply gold powder to the painting. The gold powder can be divided into red pure gold, cyan blue gold, and slightly light blue aqua gold. Lin Yu-San cleverly used these three different colors of gold to paint the different light and shadows of the morning light reflecting on the red mountain and green water.

This painting was given to a friend from the same county as Lin Yu-San who sponsored Lin.However, in 1999 Japanese collectors wanted to buy it, fortunately, many people launched a fund-raising campaign to successfully buy it and let it remain in Taiwan forever

National Treasure Appreciation

This work is detailed with fine brushwork, the color is delicate and beautiful, and the layout is very subtle. In the foreground of the painting there is a pond full of lotus flowers, slightly up and to the left, there are more lotus flowers. The two clumps are separated by a waterway.

The field of lotus leaves are green and illuminated by the water, the dead leaves are running out of water, they are each competing for their own space; their half-opened and blooming lotus petals are stagnant with dewdrops, they are crystal clear, and the petals that are on the water look like small boats floating along waves.

If the field of lotus flowers is said to create a feeling of tranquility and comfort, then the egret on the left adds a dynamic atmosphere. The egret is glaring at the fish swimming in the clear pond water, slowly stepping on the water, trying to stretch its long beak to catch some fish. From these scenes you can sense the beauty of ecology.

The water surface is painted with various layers of gold color to represent the different tones of Niuchou Mountain’s terracotta soil reflecting on the surface of the water. It also shows that the surface of the water changes due to the light, and even though the leaves are covered, there is still a faint golden color.
In the early hours of the morning the lotus flowers are reddish white, but after a night, they become dipped in dew and appear moist, turning the petals red and green.
The focus of the whole painting is the white egret, with its long black beak, thin legs, and white feathers. Following the bird’s line of sight, you will find that the egret is very calm in the way it moves, slowly approaching the fish below the water’s surface, preparing to eat a full meal.
Lin Yu-San’s signature and his “Lin Ying-gui” seal (Lin Yu-San’s original name).


    1. Kao I-Hsuan,Lin Yu-San, Learning from Nature.Taipei: National Museum of History, 2004.
    2. Wang Yao-T’ing, Hsiao Chong-Ray, Hsueh Yen-Ling,Passing on a Lasting Legacy: Paintings by Lin Yu-San.Taipei: National Taiwan Museum of Fine Arts, 2012.
    3. Pan Fan,Lin Yu-San’s Lotus Pond.Tainan: Tainan Municipal Government, 2014.
    4. Chen Chiung Hua, Lin Chang Hu, et al.,Painting the Charms of Nature: A Collection of Essays from the Academic Conference on Lin Yu-San.Taipei: National Taiwan Normal University, 2016.


The National Taiwan Museum of Fine Arts opened its doors in 1988, focusing on visual arts and specializing in the collection, research, exhibition, and education of modern and contemporary art in Taiwan. The museum provides an abundant and professional space to appreciate art.

In addition, to shoulder the important responsibility of safeguarding Taiwan’s fine art, all the paintings in the collection have been properly stored and digitized; at the same time, the “National Taiwan Museum of Fine Arts Collection”database has been established to share these pieces of art and cultural resources with the public.

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