The great wave of Kanagawa: the most famous Japanese print by Hokusai!

Published on : 19 May 20213 min reading time
Hokusai’s Great Wave of Kanagawa is one of the world’s most famous works of art. This Japanese print, which has fascinated observers and artists for nearly 200 years, is an outstanding example of the ukiyo-e technique. Although the Great Wave is immediately recognizable, many people are unaware of its significance and history.

The definition of the Great Wave of Kanagawa?

During the Edo period, the Japanese artist and painter Katsushika Hokusai made a yoko-e woodcut called The Great Wave of Kanagawa. It is the first of thirty-six views of Mount Fuji, a set of ukiyo-e prints depicting Japan’s highest peak from different angles. In this work, Mount Fuji is seen from the sea, framed by an ugly giant wave. The wave, with its foam, is about to hit the fishermen and their boats. The Great Wave gets its name from the swell that surrounds the canvas, dwarfing both the mountain and a trio of ships. Because The Great Wave of Kanagawa was so successful, many copies of this work of art have been made. Many collectors snatch up all the works, from calligraphy to basic drawings to woodcuts.

Who was Katsushika Hokusai?

Hokusai was born in the Japanese city of Edo (now Tokyo) in 1760. Several great artists worked in Japan, including Utagawa Hiroshige, a Japanese draftsman, printmaker and painter. Throughout his life, the artist was known by several names. He is now known as Hokusai, a popular Japanese painter. Western prints that arrived in Japan through the Dutch trade were discovered by Hokusai. The use of a low horizon line and the distinctive European pigment color, Prussian blue, show the influence of Dutch art. Hokusai was fascinated by oblique angles, contrasts between near and far, and artificial and natural contrasts. The juxtaposition of the large wave in the foreground and the small mountain in the background, as well as the inclusion of men and boats in the midst of the strong waves testify to this under the Kanagawa large wave.

Why is Hokusai’s wave so famous?

The Great Wave of Kanagawa is the full title of this work. It is the most popular print of the painter Hokusai, which was published in 1830. Its popularity can be attributed to two factors. On the one hand, there is the color, and on the other, there is the composition. It is the first of the popular series of “Thirty-six Views of Mount Fuji”, which was created between 1831 and 1834, when the artist was in his seventies, and in which Prussian blue was used for the first time in Japanese printmaking. A synthesis, it is the Wave. The traditional Japanese print and the Western “perspective” are combined in this work. Hokusai’s painting was a huge success wherever it was seen, both in Europe and in Japan. This painting and his other works were a major source of inspiration for many painters, such as the Impressionists.

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