Katsushika Hokusai: Facts and Information

Here are some facts about Katsushika Hokusai.

  • Katsushika Hokusai was a Japanese artist and print maker, whose works have become well known outside Japan. His best known work is The Great Wave off Kanagawa.
  • He was born in Tokyo, around October 1760 and began painting at the age of 6. Between the ages of 14 and 18, he worked as an apprentice wood carver.
  • As was the custom of the time, Hokusai changed his name many times during his life. It is estimated that his name changed over 30 times, more than any other artist of that time.
  • In 1811 he created the Hokusai Manga, a series of thousands of cartoons carved on woodblocks. The art form helped to influence the modern Japanese manga comics.
  • Katsushika Hokusai also influenced the Art Nouveau and Impressionist art movements of the 19th century. Several famous artists collected his work, including Manet, Degas and Vincent van Gogh.
  • Most of Hokusai’s most important and best work was produced after he reached 60. His largest work was a set of 4,000 sketches in 14 volumes, published in 1814.
  • Katsushika Hokusai reached the height of his career around 1820. He created woodblocks of many different subjects at this time, including waterfalls, bridges, birds and flowers.
  • Despite his success, he lived simply and was poor. Like many other famous artists, he was only truly recognized and appreciated after his death.
  • He created his masterpiece, Thirty-six Views of Mount Fuji, between 1826 and 1833. It is actually 46 prints showing Mount Fuji in different seasons and weather conditions.
  • Hokusai was a member of a Buddhist sect who believed that Mount Fuji was associated with eternal life. Legend has it that the secret of eternal life was put on its peak.
  • Katsushika Hokusai died in 1849, aged 88 and was buried in Tokyo. He worked right up until his death, completing Ducks In a Stream the year before he died.
  • The cover art of the UK edition of Kensuke’s Kingdom by Michael Morpurgo is inspired by the work of Hokusai.

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