It has always been considered first-class work in portrait painting, even for the most skilful artist, when the result is a likeness, more or less exact, of the mere features. Such skill is now possessed by Kuo Kung-ch'en; but what is still more marvelous, he catches the very expression, and reproduces, as it were, the inmost mid of his model.
I had already heard much of him from a couple of friends; however, on my sending for him, he did not make his appearance until this year. There upon, a number of the gentlemen of the neighborhood set themselves to test his skill. Sometimes the portrait would be perfect; sometimes perhaps a little less so; but in all cases a marked likeness was obtained, and in point of expression of individual character the artist showed powers of a very high order. I myself sat for two portraits, one large and the other small; and it was quite a joke to see how accurately he reproduced my coarse ugly face and my vulgar rustic turn of mind, so that even those who had only heard of, but had never seen me, knew at once for whom the portraits were intended.
I was just then about to start on my travels—eastwards, to the confines of Shantung; westwards, to the turbid waters of the Tung-t'ing Lake; northwards, to the quiet home of the old recluse, T'ao Yüan-ming—after which I contemplated retirement from public life. And I thought how much I should like to bring back with me portraits of the various great and good, but unknown men I might be fortunate enough to meet with on the way. But Kuo missed his parents at this time of the year, and he could not venture upon such a long journey, for which I felt very sorry. So at parting, I gave him this document.
（Herbert A. Giles 译）