During the early 20th century, the images of modern women reflected the progress of modern of Asian countries as well as symbolized the power of the Japanese empire. These images appeared in Taiwan's official art exhibitions during the Japanese colonial period. They are fashionably dressed, with short permed hair, Western-style clothes, and sometimes high heeled shoes. However, in these paintings these modern women were always restricted to domestic settings, such as private garden or family rooms, doing activities such as catching butterflies, reading books, playing musical instruments, or simply doing nothing. They were seen as modern. But when these images of women are compared to the “new woman” images of recent times, which are reflective of the anti-patriarchal, anti-colonial aspects of the women's liberation movement, there is clearly a great difference between them.
This study analyzes images of women in works shown in the official exhibitions, particularly the “Taiwanese women of the 1930s”. This type of woman was modern in outer appearance, yet charged with a traditional inner sentiments. They express an idealized traditional woman who is a “good wife and wise mother”
despite the modern appearance. The study revisits visual codes including women's apparel, hair styles and accessories, as well as postures, activities, and their spatial settings in paintings. In addition, this study focuses on the critiques of woman's fashion in the Taiwan Nishinishi shimpo to find the often conflicting issues between modern and traditional. It examines women's education and arranged marriages in Taiwan during the Japanese colonial period. Through this analysis of women's images, this study leads to a new way of understanding important issues surrounding the construction of Taiwanese identity and colonialism's impact on Taiwan.