Katsushika Hokusai, 'The Great Wave off Kanagawa'

Katsushika Hokusai, 'The Great Wave off Kanagawa'

Katsushika Hokusai (1760-1849)
'The Great Wave off Kanagawa'
From the series 'Thirty-six Views of Mount Fuji'
1831
Nishiki-e (brocade print), fûkei-ga (landscape print)
Ôban size
Museum no. E.4823-1916

Mount Fuji can be seen in the distance in this famous print, almost dwarfed by the enormous wave. The wave dominates the image, almost obscuring the boats to which the sailors are clinging. Through the use of the dramatic differences in scale in this print, Hokusai contrasts the majesty of nature with the powerlessness of mankind.

Mount Fuji was a popular pilgrimage destination in the Edo period, and was a familiar subject for painters and printmakers.

More than any other Japanese print, this print astounded artists in Europe at the close of the 19th century. Debussy is said to have used it as the inspiration for his orchestral piece, La Mer, and Rainer Maria Rilke for the verse series Der Berg.

This print can be found in Japanese Print Room Box JP1.