The Great Wave of Kanagawa
By Kinjal Trivedi
Name: The Great Wave
Year: 1829 – 1833
Size: 25.7 cm × 37.8 cm (10.1 in × 14.9 in)
Medium: color woodblock
The Great Wave is a Japanese Wood Print imprint done by the great artist Katsushika Hokusai. It was this series, specifically The Great Wave print secured Hokusai’s fame both in Japan and overseas.
This painting was one of the 18 series of the view from Mt. Fuji. The image depicts an enormous wave threatening three Japanese wooden boats off the coast of the town Kanagawa. In Japanese woodblock printing, the artist’s final preparatory sketch called shita-e in Japanese, is taken to a horishi, or block carver, who glues the thin washi paper to a block of wood, usually cherry, and then carefully carves it away to form a relief of the lines of the image. A separate block is carefully made for each colour. These blocks, although delicate as they are made of natural resources, they were used to make several original prints.
Some of the original prints are in the Metropolitan Museum of Art, The British Museum, The Art Institute of Chicago, The Los Angeles County Museum of Art, The National Gallery of Victoria in Melbourne, and Claude Monet’s home in Giverny, France.
The Great Wave has three different shades of blue and a medium grey tone to enhance the blue color. The three boats along the curve of waves are not prominent and flow along with the large wave. This gives the viewer a sense of calm and anticipating the next move the wave is going to make.
The print is one of the most reproduced and most instantly recognized artworks in the world. You can also buy posters or reprography of this print to decorate the interior of your house.
Vincent van Gogh, a great admirer of Hokusai, praised the quality of drawing and use of line in the Great Wave, and said it had a terrifying emotional impact.
The accurate and sensitive lines of each wave and the choice of colours were extremely precise. Many artists from around the world took notice of this painting and added few of their own elements to it. Although, the original remains a masterpiece with the thought process of Hokusai himself.
This painting is not forgotten in today’s day and age.
Apple products display a small version of the Great Wave as the image for the Water Wave emoji!
The Great Wave
Artist’s self portrait