The Great Wave

Quick Overview

The energetic and imposing picture The Great Wave (of Kanagawa) is the best-known work by Japanese artist Hokusai Katsushika (1760-1849), one of the greatest Japanese woodblock printmakers, painters and book illustrators. The Great Wave was created around 1831 as part of a series of woodblock prints called Thirty-six Views of Mount Fuji.

The most prominent feature of the painting is the extended wave which is about to break with the crash of its claw-like crest. The beautiful dark blue pigment used by Hokusai, called Prussian Blue, was a new material at the time, imported from England through China. The wave is about to strike the boats as if it were an enormous monster, one which seems to symbolise the irresistible force of nature and the weakness of human beings.

The wave in the foreground and Mount Fuji in the background are also seen as symbols chosen to provide a perspective effect, a European-style technique Katsushika had adapted in a very inventive way, but also to represent the unpredictability of life.  Mount Fuji, on the other hand, signifies stillness and eternity; it is the symbol of Japan and as a sacred object of worship, holds a significant place in Japanese beliefs.

This image became widely distributed in Europe since the middle of the nineteenth century and many European artists also found inspiration in Japanese art, which was previously not accessible to them.  

You can now also paint a version of it!  Our version of this iconic image is 40 x 50cm and is fairly challenging with it's 22 colours.  Each box contains a stretched, printed and numbered canvas, paint, brushes and a page detailing the numbers for an extra reference.



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