The Art of War, an ancient military treatise composed of thirteen chapters, is traditionally attributed to the military strategist Sun Wu, and dated to the Late Spring and Autumn Period (771 – 476 BCE). While in antiquity, the text served as a primer for inspiring soldiers, it has expanded its influence into politics, economics, and commerce in modern times.
Wei Guangqing drew inspiration from Ming Dynasty (1368 – 1644) woodblock illustrations of Sun Tzu’s Art of War, in which thirteen chapters and two additional portraits of Sun Wu and his disciple Sun Bin comprise a total of fifteen images. Wei highlights characters in bright colors, representative of his iconic Cultural Pop style, while juxtaposing the illustration against a dull grey chessboard background, in which the arrangements of the game pieces all result in a draw. Wei attracts further visual interest by applying varying thickness of paint on different color planes, creating an intricate relief effect.