Gu Kaizhi (simplified Chinese: 顾恺之; traditional Chinese:
顧愷之; pinyin: Gù Kǎizhī; Wade–Giles: Ku K'ai-chih; c.
344–406), courtesy name Changkang (長康), was a celebrated painter
of ancient China. He was born in
Wuxi and first painted at Nanjing
in 364. In 366, he became an officer (Da Sima Canjun,
大司馬參軍). Later he was promoted to royal officer (Sanji
Changshi, 散騎常侍). He was also a talented poet and calligrapher.
He wrote three books about painting theory: On Painting (畫論),
Introduction of Famous Paintings of Wei and Jin Dynasties
(魏晉勝流畫贊) and Painting Yuntai Mountain (畫雲台山記).
He wrote: "In figure paintings the clothes and the appearances were
not very important. The eyes were the spirit and the decisive
Gu's art is known today through copies of several silk handscroll
paintings attributed to him.
1 The Admonitions of the Instructress to the Court Ladies
2 Nymph of the Luo River (洛神賦)
3 Wise and Benevolent Women (列女仁智圖)
6 Further reading
7 External links
The Admonitions of the Instructress to the Court Ladies
Main article: Admonitions Scroll
This painting, dated between the 6th and 8th century AD - probably
Tang Dynasty copy - illustrates nine stories from a political
Empress Jia Nanfeng written by
Zhang Hua (ca. 232-302).
Beginning in the eighth century, many collectors and emperors left
seals, poems, and comments on the scroll. The Admonitions scroll was
stored in the emperor's treasure until it was looted by the British
army in the
Boxer Uprising in 1900. Now it is in the British Museum
collection, missing the first three scenes. There is another surviving
copy of this painting, made during the
Song Dynasty and is now held in
Palace Museum in Beijing. The Song version is complete in twelve
The painting is on silk and is a polychrome. "The figures, whose
countenances are at once solemn and tranquil, are described with a
thin, unmodulated brush-line.... The brush-mode...has been described
as 'spring silkworms spitting silk'".
British Museum copy of The Admonitions of the Instructress to the
A section of the
Palace Museum copy of The Admonitions of the
Instructress to the Court Ladies
Take a good look at the way the clothing is painted and you will see
the exquisite variety and detail employed by the artist.
Nymph of the Luo River (洛神賦)
Nymph of the Luo River is a painting by Gu which illustrates a poem
Cao Zhi (192-232). It survives in three copies dating to
the Song Dynasty. One copy is now held in the
Palace Museum in
Beijing, and another one is now at the
Freer Gallery in Washington,
D.C. The third was brought to Manchuria by the last emperor Pu Yi
(1906–1967) while he was the puppet emperor of
Japanese rule. When the Japanese surrendered in 1945 the painting
disappeared. After ten years the
Liaoning Province Museum
Liaoning Province Museum recovered
Palace Museum copy of the Nymph of the Luo River, Southern Song.
Freer Gallery of Art copy of the Nymph of the Luo River, Southern
A section of the
Liaoning Provincial Museum
Liaoning Provincial Museum copy of the Nymph of the
Luo River, Southern Song.
Wise and Benevolent Women (列女仁智圖)
Wise and Benevolent Women survives in a 13th-century copy dating to
the Song Dynasty, and is today located in the
Palace Museum in
Beijing. It illustrates a subset of the women described in the Han
dynasty work Biographies of Exemplary Women. The 5 meter long scroll
is divided into 10 sections, with each section containing a short
The 13th century
Palace Museum copy of the Wise and Benevolent Women,
^ a b c Cihai: Page 1846.
^ Admonitions Scroll
^ Wang Yao-t'ing, Looking at Chinese Painting: A Comprehensive Guide
to the Philosophy, Technique and History of Chinese Painting. (First
English edition) Tokyo: Nigensha Publishing, 1995.
ISBN 4-544-02066-2, p. 129
^ a b c d Nymph of the Luo River
^ Wu Hung (1996). The double screen: medium and representation in
Chinese painting. University of Chicago Press. p. 167.
^ (Xin et al. 1997, p. 47)
Xin, Yang; Chongzheng, Nie; Shaojun, Lang; Barnhard, Richard M (1997),
Three thousand years of Chinese painting, New Haven,
Ci hai bian ji wei yuan hui (辞海编辑委员会）. Ci hai
（辞海）. Shanghai: Shanghai ci shu chu ban she
McCausland, Shane; Museum, British (2003),
Gu Kaizhi and the
British Museum Press
Wikimedia Commons has media related to Gu Kaizhi.
Admonitions Scroll in the British Museum
ISNI: 0000 0001 2147 4297
BNF: cb145446768 (data)