Katsushika Hokusai

Painter & Printmaker

Katsushika Hokusai (31 October 1760 – 10 May 1849), known simply as Hokusai, was a Japanese artist, ukiyo-e painter and printmaker of the Edo period. Born in Edo (now Tokyo), Hokusai is best known as author of the woodblock print series Thirty-six Views of Mount Fuji which includes the internationally iconic print, The Great Wave off Kanagawa.

Hokusai created the monumental 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 Fine Wind, Clear Morning, that secured Hokusai's fame both in Japan and overseas. While Hokusai's work prior to this series is certainly important, it was not until this series that he gained broad recognition.

His work transformed the ukiyo-e artform from a style of portraiture largely focused on courtesans and actors into a much broader style of art that focused on landscapes, plants, and animals. Hokusai worked in various fields besides woodblock prints, such as painting and producing designs for book illustrations, including his own educational Hokusai Manga, which consists of thousands of images of every subject imaginable over fifteen volumes. Starting as a young child, he continued working and improving his style until his death, aged 88. In a long and successful career, he produced over 30,000 paintings, sketches, woodblock prints, and images for picture books in total. Innovative in his compositions and exceptional in his drawing technique, Hokusai is considered one of the greatest masters in the history of art.