Katsushika Hokusai

(1760–1849)

Portrait of a Man by Katsushika Hokusai

Anecdote...

Looking back toward the end of his long life on his artistic output, Hokusai dismissed as nothing all the work he had done before the age of fifty; it was only after he had reached seventy that he felt he was turning out work of note. At age eighty-nine, on his deathbed, he lamented, “If heaven had granted me five more years, I could have become a real painter.”

The Mount Fuji Series...

Hokusai is best known as author of the woodblock print series “Thirty-six Views of Mount Fuji,” which includes the internationally recognized print, “The Great Wave off Kanagawa,” created during the 1820s. He created the “Thirty-Six Views” both as a response to a domestic travel boom and as part of a personal obsession with Mount Fuji. It was this series, specifically The Great Wave print and Fuji in Clear Weather, that secured Hokusai’s fame both in Japan and overseas. See 24 of the Views here.

Our favorites in the Mt. Fuji Views series are shown below.
Biographical Note: 
Hokusai self-portrait

Katsushika Hokusai was a Japanese painter, draftsman, and wood engraver, one of the foremost ukiyo-e, or “pictures of the floating world” (everyday life), print designers. After producing wood engravings for several years, he became a pupil of the celebrated craftsman Shunsho Katsukawa, adopting the name Shunro. In the 1790s he illustrated books and printed cards for greetings and announcements. About 1797 he took the name Hokusai. In all he used over 50 different names. His output was prodigious and his fame widespread, but to the end of his life Hokusai lived in poverty and retained his simplicity. He was distinguished for the variety of his styles, his extraordinary technical excellence, and his observant delineation of contemporary life. His landscapes reveal a startling imagination and a dramatic sense of composition. Of his astounding output some of the best-known works are the famous Manga, or Ten Thousand Sketches, in 15 volumes (1814–78); the color-print series Views of Famous Bridges and Views of Lu-chu Islands; and Views of Mount Fuji. Hokusai’s work had a marked influence on Impressionist and Postimpressionist artists of Europe.

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Top Image Info

Portrait of a man of noble birth with a book — Katsushika Hokusai: Japan Military