Katsushika Hokusai was a famous Japanese artist during the Edo period. Katsushika Hokusai started his career at an early age. He started working when he was twelve at the bookshop. Two years later, he worked as a wood-carver’s assistant. At the age of eighteen, he got accepted to Katsukawa Shunsho’s studio. This was the most important milestone in his career. Under Katsukawa Shunsho training, Hokusai became a printmaker and Ukiyo-e painter. Later in his life, he became extremely well known as an all-rounded artist.
His artworks included variety of styles from illustrations to prints and paintings. One of his specialties was using woodblock print technique called Ukiyo-e. “Ukiyo-e means ‘floating world picture’ or ‘pictures of the floating world’. It is a term used to describe the Japanese wood-block prints produced between the 17th and 20th centuries that focused on the depiction of famous actors, courtesans and prostitutes, landscapes and erotica.” (The Ukiyo-e) Most of his artworks focus on portraying nature, which included landscapes, birds, fish, and also common people’s activities. (Flynn)
Katsushika Hokusai was at the peak of his career when he published the Thirty Six Views of Mount Fuji series. It was the most well known through all of his artworks and became a representation of Katsushika Hokusai. The series was not only famous in Japan at that time, but also became a source of inspiration of many European artists in early nineteen century. It also had a direct impact on Art Nouveau.
“The Japanese influence, however, went beyond the impact of woodblock prints on painting and graphic design. An 1831 print by Katsushika Hokusai from his series. Thirty-six Views of Mount Fuji features the iconic mountain in the background and a man fishing in the foreground. Both elements reappear as details in an inkstand intricately decorated in silver and cloisonne enamels made by the firm of Frederic Boucheron in 1876” (Hammond)
Thirty Six Views of Mount Fuji is a series portray Mount Fuji, a symbol of Japan, in different perspectives and different times through out the year. As its title, the series included thirty-six pieces in the original publication. However, the series was extremely well-received from public. Therefore, ten more paintings were added to the series later by Hokusai, which increase the number of the series to forty-six paintings in total.
Flynn, Patricia, “Vision of People: The Influences of Japanese Prints-Ukiyo-e Upon Late Nineteenth and Early Twentieth Century French Art.” Yale-New Haven Teacher Institute. 2016. Accessed September 29, 2016.
Hammond, Jeff Michael. “How Japan’s Art Inspired the West.” The Japan Times, August 14, 2014. Accessed September 29, 2016. http://www.japantimes.co.jp/culture/2014/08/14/arts/how-japans-art-inspired-the-west/#.V-1KuyMrK3V.
Katsushika Hokusai, Ukiyo-e, Edo Period Japan