Behind Me was drawn from a story in The Classic of History that describes the brutality of the last Emperor Jie of Xia. King Tang of Shang led his troops to punish the despot, because the suffering people longed for an army to save them. He always said, “Succor will follow me.”
The work was created around the time of the Mukden Incident of 1931, in which the Japanese invaded China. The Chinese authorities took a passive attitude toward the incursion, but Xu Beihong used this work to present oppressed people longing for liberation.