It is a rite of passage for woodblock artists to design and cut a portrait print of Lu Xun. Many of the Modern Woodcut artists paid Lu Xun this honour in his lifetime. Li Qun’s small 1936 portrait was in Lu Xun’s collection when he died (no. 4). From the time of his death until today, artists have invoked Lu Xun in portraiture to celebrate or criticise developments in China (no.100).
Artists also illustrate Lu Xun’s stories, with a single image or in a series of up to sixty prints. Lu Xun was highly ciritcal of the narrow-minded sprit, inhumanity and political darkness of the later Imperial and early Republican China. A Madman’s Diary (Kuangren riji 狂人日記) was the first modern story published in the vernacular, rather than in classical Chinese (nos.14-17). Lu’s best-known work is The True Story of Ah Q (Ah Q zheng zhuan阿Q正傳). Zhao Yannian’s sixty-print masterpiece portrays every foible and psychological nuance of the novella’s hapless anti-hero (nos. 18-21).