This extraordinary painting by Chen Hongshou depicts the story of Xuanwen Jun, or Lady of Literary Propagation, at a venerable age, instructing young scholars on the Confucian classics. It was painted for Chen's aunt on the occasion of her 60th birthday.
Chen's painting style is archaic in the use of fine outlines and brilliant coloring with mineral pigments. In depicting the figures, he uses the "iron-wire" brush idioms (fine, even lines) with deliberate control. The faces are attenuated and exaggerated; the demeanors restrained by a sense of propriety. A few ritual bronzes lend the scene an antique flavor.