Synopses & Reviews
Admonitions of the Instructress to the Court Ladies is widely considered one of the most important early Chinese scroll paintings in existence. Inspired by a text from the third century A.D. that warns against the dangers of personal ambitions and the abuse of power, the scroll upholds Confucian standards of honorable behavior. Central to these standards are the Five Human Relationships: duty between ruler and subject, love between father and son, respect between husband and wife, affection between brothers, and trust between friends. The text was written during a time of political strife, when these standards were under serious threat. For modern art historians, the Admonitions scroll signals the emergence of classical Chinese painting, with Gu Kaizhi (ca. 344-ca. 406), the artist to whom it is attributed, often described as the founding father of classical Chinese figure painting. His achievement lies in his rendering of figures, which convey as previous Chinese figural paintings never had, a startling range of human feeling and emotion. Graced with rare and exceptional subtlety, Gu Kaizhi's Admonitions Scroll speaks its message of Confucian virtue across centuries.