Hokusai: Paintings, Drawings and Woodcuts


'Hokusai: Paintings, Drawings and Woodcuts' by J. Hiller showcases the works of one of the most famous of the Japanese woodblock masters: Katsushika Hokusai.

The woodblock prints of Japan belong to a type of art known as Ukiyo-e, 'pictures of the floating world'. The subject matter of the Ukiyo-e came from the temporal world of commoners in Edo, the capital of the Tokugawa shoguns (1603 -1868). This was a time of peace, prosperity, and political stability, as well as a time of social and cultural frivolity. A world of Kabuki plays, wrestling matches, geisha houses and changing fads and fashion.

The earliest Ukiyo-e were intended for the wealthy houses but around he beginning of the seventeenth century the medium became linked to the lower classes as the development of woodblock printing meant that large quantities of inexpensive pictures could be produced. The highest point in the history of Ukiyo-e came in the late eighteenth century, when the masters Kiyonaga, Utamaro, and Sharaku were in their prime. The medium was reinvigorated by Katsushika Hokusai who created the landscape print. This was not a shift from people to scenery but a widened focus to include people's surroundings as well the people themselves. The Hollow of the Deep Sea Wave (pictured above) is probably Hokusai's most famous work from the series 'Thirty-six Views of Fuji'.

The plates that follow represent the most vibrant and interesting coloured plates from 'Hokusai: Paintings, Drawings and Woodcuts'.

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