Depicting a loyal official remonstrating with the emperor, this painting was commissioned to enhance the image of the sovereign as a just ruler who welcomed frank criticism and encouraged honest admonitions from his officials. The reality was often quite the opposite.
Bearing the signature of Liu Jun, a court painter who eventually attained the honorary rank of Commander in Chief of the Embroidered Uniform Guard, this large colorful hanging scroll testifies to the continuation of the Song academic tradition of narrative art under the sponsorship of the Ming court. But while both the subject matter and figure style are based on Song models, Remonstrating with the Emperor exhibits a compositional density and schematization that typify works of the Ming academy at the end of the fifteenth century. Song court paintings emphasize narrative content and the creation of a believable spatial framework for the action; Ming paintings emphasize symbolic content. Liu Jun's main objective is no longer the recounting of a specific story or the achievement of an accurate description of nature; rather, it is the communication of a message through a vocabulary of images imbued with symbolic meaning.
Inscription: Artist’s signature (1 column in standard script)
Unidentified artist, 1 column in standard script, undated; 1 seal:
明劉俊 《納諫圖》 無上精品 [印]: 劉囗囗囗圖書
Wang Jiqian 王季遷 （C. C. Wang, 1907–2003） 王季遷珍藏之印 王季遷氏審定真跡
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