Katsushika Hokusai was Japanese artist from the Edo period of what we now call Tokyo, he was born October 31, 1760, and died May 10, 1849 and in this time he attended the Katsukawa Shunsh studio and trained under his master Shunsh, like many artists of the time his training focused on portraying the images of the courtesans and Kabuki actors popular at the time. His art style is unique and innovative using printing as well as painting to create his own style of Ukiyo-e art that he learned from his master Shunsh.
Japan during Hokusai’s time was the Edo period which lasted over 250 years and very much ruled by the social standing of a person and/or their family and a strong military dictatorship. this was before the economic and social change the lead to the fall of this era and the rise of what is now the structure of modern-day Japan.
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This time was also during the rise of western print influence from Dutch artists which is shown in paintings like The Great Wave that use low horizon lines, shapes and oblique angles that contrast the objects near and far and the man-made and natural, as well as the introduction of colours like Prussian blue that are distinct aspects of European artworks. but all this combined with the Japanese printing and line style is what makes Hokusai’s art so unique and interesting.
One of the most prominent aspects of Hokusai’s works in the presence of Mount Fuji in a number of his works, even these series that the well known Great Wave is from was named ’36 views of Mount Fuji’.
But why Mount Fuji? The tallest mountain in Japan is Mount Fuji and it is considered sacred by many Japanese people and known as an icon for Japan to many foreigners. it is possible that this is the reason for Hokusai’s fascination with the mountain the sacred object among Japanese but also an object of fascination and tourism for those coming from other places which is true even to this day. it was for this reason that it was common for the prints to be purchased as souvenirs of Mount Fuji and Japan because at the time Mount Fuji was visible from all over was is now Tokyo.