Hokusai 1760-1849 : « L’affolé de son art » d’Edmond de Goncourt à Norbert Lagane PDF

Jump to navigation Jump to search « Great Wave » redirects here. The Great Wave or simply Hokusai 1760-1849 : « L’affolé de son art » d’Edmond de Goncourt à Norbert Lagane PDF Wave, is a woodblock print by the Japanese ukiyo-e artist Hokusai. Mount Fuji rises in the background.


Hokusai began painting when he was six years old. At age twelve, his father sent him to work at a booksellers. At sixteen, he was apprenticed as an engraver and spent three years learning the trade. At the same time he began to produce his own illustrations. At eighteen he was accepted as an apprentice to Katsukawa Shunshō, one of the foremost ukiyo-e artists of the time. Spring at Enoshima print by Hokusai, c. Kanagawa-oki honmoku no zu, print by Hokusai, c.

Oshiokuri hato tsūsen no zu, print by Hokusai, c. Both works have subjects identical to the Great Wave: a sailboat and a rowboat respectively. In both precursor works, the subjects are in the midst of a storm, beneath a great wave that threatens to devour them. Their rigidity and verticality evoke the shape of a snow-capped mountain, while in the Great Wave the wave stands out because it is more active, dynamic, and aggressive, which makes it threatening. The earlier images are very marked by the perspective traditionally used in Japanese painting, where the viewer sees the scene from a bird’s-eye view. The Great Wave, on the other hand, is depicted in a more western perspective, giving the feeling that the wave will break on top of the viewer.

In the earlier prints the horizon is in the middle, whereas in the Great Wave the horizon is so low that it forces the viewer’s eye to the very center of the action. In the first two, there is a sail boat on the crest of the wave, as if it had managed to escape. Hokusai eliminated this element for the Great Wave, because it interfered with the dynamic of the curve or to make the image more dramatic. The two first prints have an uneven composition, lacking consistency, whereas the Great Wave only has two important masses: the wave itself, and the vanishing point beneath the wave.

The wave shows the level of control that Hokusai had reached. The image, although simple in its design is, however, the result of a long process, a methodical reflection. The basis of this method were laid out by Hokusai in his 1812 work Quick lessons of simplified drawing, in which he explains that every object can be drawn using the relationship of the circle and square. This print is a yoko-e, that is, a landscape format produced to the ōban size, about 25 cm high by 37 cm wide. The composition comprises three main elements: the sea whipped up by a storm, three boats and a mountain.