Katsushika Hokusai Paintings

Katsushika Hokusai, known simply as Hokusai, was a Japanese artist, ukiyo-e painter, and printmaker of the Edo period. Born in the Katsushika district of Edo (now Tokyo) in 1760, Hokusai is best known for his woodblock print series 'Thirty-Six Views of Mount Fuji,' which includes the internationally iconic print, 'The Great Wave off Kanagawa.'

Hokusai began painting at the age of six, and at twelve, his father sent him to work at a bookseller's. He became an apprentice to a wood-carver at age fourteen, which markedly influenced his future career as a printmaker. By eighteen, Hokusai had entered the studio of Katsukawa Shunsho, a master of ukiyo-e, a style of woodblock prints and paintings that focused on subjects like female beauties, kabuki actors, and scenes from history and folk tales.

Throughout his career, Hokusai used more than 30 different names, each marking a new stage in his artistic development. His early works represent the conventional ukiyo-e style of the time, but his unique approach began to surface after he left the studio of Shunsho. Hokusai's work went beyond the typical subjects of ukiyo-e, as he explored landscapes and daily life of Japan's common people in his art.

Hokusai's most productive period was the first decade of the 19th century when he created the 'Hokusai Manga,' a collection of sketches of various subjects, including landscapes, flora and fauna, and the daily life of Japanese people. He also published many series of landscapes, including 'Famous Sights of the Eastern Capital,' 'Eight Views of Edo,' and, most notably, 'Thirty-Six Views of Mount Fuji,' which reflect both a true mastery of the medium and a peak in his artistic career.

Despite his success, Hokusai's life was marked by financial difficulty, partly because of his extravagance and focus on his art rather than his finances. He moved frequently and lived a modest life. Hokusai continued to create important works in his later years, never ceasing to explore new subjects and techniques. He once expressed his desire for longevity, famously saying he wanted to live to the age of 110 so that he could become a real artist. He continued to paint until his death in 1849 at the age of 88.

Today, Hokusai is recognized as one of the most important figures in Japanese art and has influenced not only Japanese art but also Western artists like Vincent van Gogh and Claude Monet. His works are held in high esteem worldwide and continue to inspire art lovers and artists alike.