Gu Kaizhi (顧愷之, ca. 344-406), born in modern Wuxi, was one of the earliest many-faceted artists in China. He was an eccentric courtier who is most famous as a painter of portraits and figure subjects and as a poet. He is recorded as having been among the first to paint a representation of Vimala-kīrti, the Buddhist saint who became popular in China.
Gu Kaizhi’s art is known today through copies of three silk handscroll paintings attributed to him: Admonitions of the Instructress to the Court Ladies (女史箴圖), Nymph of the Luo River (洛神賦), and Wise and Benevolent Women (列女仁智圖). Gu Kaizhi wrote three essays about painting theory: On Painting (論畫), Introduction of Famous Paintings of Wei and Jin Dynasties (魏晉勝流畫贊), and Records on Painting Yuntai Mountain (畫雲台山記). According to him, “The spirit of figure painting is all in the eyes.”