The Big Wave

Technique: Giclée quality print
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Finishing (pick one!)

More about this artwork

This iconic painting by Katsushika Hokusai is known as "The Great Wave off Kanagawa," often simply referred to as "The Great Wave." It is a classic example of Japanese ukiyo-e art from the Edo period and is part of Hokusai's series "Thirty-six Views of Mount Fuji."The painting vividly depicts an enormous wave threatening boats near the Japanese prefecture of Kanagawa. The wave is dominant in the composition, almost claw-like as it seems to reach for the sky, symbolizing the powerful and unpredictable forces of nature. The wave's crest is frothed with white, which contrasts sharply with the deep indigo of the sea, giving the wave a striking and dynamic appearance.Peeking through the background is Mount Fuji, rendered in a serene and almost diminutive scale compared to the overwhelming wave. This juxtaposition not only highlights the smallness of human endeavors in the face of nature's might but also subtly pays homage to this sacred mountain, a recurring motif in Hokusai's series.The boats, caught directly under the threatening curl of the wave, are filled with rowers. Their postures suggest urgency and struggle as they navigate the perilous waters. This element adds a human aspect to the painting, evoking themes of resilience and vulnerability.Overall, the composition and the dramatic use of colors and lines create a sense of tension and motion, making "The Great Wave" a timeless depiction of nature's beauty and terror.


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Over seven decades, Katsushika Hokusai had produced an astounding 30,000 drawings, paintings, and prints. In his 70s, he began releasing his most famous landscape woodblock print series known as the 36 Views of Mount Fuji, which includes the iconic The Great Wave off Kanagawa. His artworks had influences beyond Japan, inspiring many renowned western artists including Edouard Manet, Claude Monet, and Vincent Van Gogh.