Hokusai – “Beyond the Great Wave” at the British Museum until 13 August 2017 – one of Japan’s greatest artists

Katsushika Hokusai (1760–1849), Under the Wave off Kanagawa (detail).  Colour woodblock print, c. 1831

Katsushika Hokusai ( 北斎 ) (c. 1760–1849) is widely regarded as one of Japan’s most famous and influential artists.  Born in the Katsushika district of Edo (present-day Tokyo) he was known by at least thirty names during his lifetime.  He produced works of astonishing quality over a long career right up until his death, but his most important works were produced after the age 60.  This Exhibition brings together many of his masterpieces over the last 30 years of his life including prints, paintings and illustrated books featuring landscapes, domestic scenes and exquisite depictions of flora and fauna.

Hokusai is best known as author of the wood block print series, Thirty-six views  of Mount Fuji, which includes the internationally recognised print, The Great Wave off Kanagawa produced in the early 1830s.

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Hokusai self-portrait, 1839

“From the age of six, I had a passion for copying the form of things and since the age of fifty I have published many drawings, yet of all I drew by my seventieth year there is nothing worth taking in to account. At seventy-three years I partly understood the structure of animals, birds, insects and fishes, and the life of grasses and plants. And so, at eighty-six I shall progress further; at ninety I shall even further penetrate their secret meaning, and by one hundred I shall perhaps truly have reached the level of the marvellous and divine. When I am one hundred and ten, each dot, each line will possess a life of its own.”

Hokusai post-script to One Hundred Views of Mount Fuji, c. 1834

— Hokusai at the British Museum – bookings here  (under 16’s free) —

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