The British Museum has announced the holding of an exhibition of more than 100 sketches by the famous Japanese woodblock print artist Katsushika Hokusai, whose painting “The Great Wave off Kanagawa”, with its amazing composition, is an artistic icon that inspired great music composers such as French Claude Debussy.
Japan’s Kyodo News reported that the exhibition in September will allow the world to see forgotten works of the greatest ukiyo-e artists of the 19th century, and those works reappeared in 2019.
The artist is known to have transformed this art from the style of portraiture to a broader artistic style that focuses on landscapes, plants and animals, and left a great influence on Western artists because of his unique colors full of vitality and life, and the visual composition of his works that challenged ideas related to perspective.
The exhibition in London until January next year will feature 103 postcard-sized sketches that Hokusai (1760-1849) created in the first half of the 19th century to create woodblock prints of an unpublished visual encyclopedia titled The Great Picture Book of Everything. They will include dramatic scenes from ancient China and Buddhism in India.
In addition to studies of real and imagined animals and birds, the British Museum explained that during the period of isolation of Japan under the Tokugawa shogunate, when overseas travel was restricted, the encyclopedia was intended as a guide to familiarizing ordinary Japanese with other cultures and the natural world.
The museum, which obtained the drawings last year, indicated that the pictures were last recorded at an auction in Paris in 1948, as it is believed that they were kept in a private collection before reappearing in 2019, about 200 years after their completion. He will display it in parallel with a presentation of Hokusai’s famous 1831 work The Great Wave off Kanagawa.
Museum director Hartwig Fischer said in an online press conference that Hokusai “has allowed his imagination to revive scenes from all continents,” adding that he was very proud of the museum’s ability to share these amazing works of art hidden from the world for so long.
It is believed that the drawings of the “ready blocks” called “Hanchita E” were preserved because they were not damaged during the process of creating the printing blocks.