Hokusai Woodblock The Great Wave off Kanagawa


“The Great Wave off Kanagawa” from the series “Thirty-six Views of Mount Fuji”  by Katsushika Hokusai 1760–1849 

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Hokusai Woodblock The Great Wave off Kanagawa

Hokusai Woodblock The Great Wave off Kanagawa also known as “The Great Wave” from the series “Thirty-six Views of Mount Fuji” by Katsushika Hokusai 1760–1849.

A beautifully presented, highly detailed woodblock print embellished by very fine gauffrage embossing (harazuri).

This is a handmade 20th Century edition woodblock print on traditional handmade washi paper by the original publishers.  It has never been used, hung or framed.

Dimensions approximately 28 cm by 41 cm  OR 11.5 inches by 16.5 inches

Shipping is via Australia Post with tracking and is approximately 8 business days to most international locations.

The Great Wave

This was the first design by Hokusai for his famous series – 36 Views of Mt. Fuji.  The design was created by Hokusai around 1830 and published by Nishimuraya Yohachi in 1832.  It shows a dramatic scene of a huge wave swamping over three tiny, long boats cramped with fishermen. Mount Fuji is seen in the background, small and calm. Untouched by the drama unfolding in the sea. At first look it seems that the fishermen in their tiny boats are doomed to perish in the sea.  They do not look panicked. On the contrary, they are hanging to their oars.  They appear to be experienced calm and disciplined and able to cope with the situation.

The Great wave is frequently interpreted as a huge tsunami wave.  The reality is that Hokusai wanted to illustrate the power of the sea and to express how insignificant man is in comparison to the forces of nature.

36 Views of Mt. Fuji is the best known of Hokusai’s print series. It is also considered his best work. Although called “36 views”, it actually consists of 46 designs. The artist worked on this series for nearly ten years before it’s publication in circa 1830.

Hokusai Katsushika – 1760-1849

Hokusai began as an apprentice at a woodcut print workshop at age 15.  At 18 he became a pupil of Katsukawa Shunsho and took the name of Katsukawa Shunro. The early Hokusai prints were actor portraits and were produced under the influence of Shunsho.  He remained with Katsukawa Shunsho for 14 years and during that period he also studied with Yusen from the Kano school.

An Ukiyo-e Workaholic

Hokusai was completely obsessed by producing woodblock prints.  He used the art name Gakyo-rojin, from 1834-1849 which also means old man mad with painting.

He wrote in his autobiography about himself:

“From the age of five I have had a mania for sketching the forms of things.  From about the age of fifty I produced a number of designs, yet of all I drew prior to the age of seventy there is truly nothing of great note. At the age of seventy-two I finally apprehended something of the true quality of birds, animals, insects, fish and of the vital nature of grasses and trees. Therefore, at eighty I shall have made some progress, at ninety I shall have penetrated even further the deeper meaning of things, at one hundred I shall have become truly marvelous, and at one hundred and ten, each dot, each line shall surely possess a life of its own. I only beg that gentlemen of sufficiently long life take care to note the truth of my words.”

Hokusai was also one of the most prolific of all ukiyo-e artists producing more than 30,000 print designs in his lifetime.


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