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The Great Wave off Kanagawa

The Great Wave off Kanagawa

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, also known as The Great Wave or simply The Wave, is a woodblock print
Woodblock printing in Japan
Woodblock printing in Japan is a technique best known for its use in the ukiyo-e artistic genre; however, it was also used very widely for printing books in the same period. Woodblock printing had been used in China for centuries to print books, long before the advent of movable type, but was only...

 by the Japan
Japan
Japan is an island nation in East Asia. Located in the Pacific Ocean, it lies to the east of the Sea of Japan, China, North Korea, South Korea and Russia, stretching from the Sea of Okhotsk in the north to the East China Sea and Taiwan in the south...

ese artist Hokusai
Hokusai
was a Japanese artist, ukiyo-e painter and printmaker of the Edo period. He was influenced by such painters as Sesshu, and other styles of Chinese painting...

. An example of ukiyo-e
Ukiyo-e
' is a genre of Japanese woodblock prints and paintings produced between the 17th and the 20th centuries, featuring motifs of landscapes, tales from history, the theatre, and pleasure quarters...

 art, it was published sometime between 1830 and 1833 (during the Edo Period
Edo period
The , or , is a division of Japanese history which was ruled by the shoguns of the Tokugawa family, running from 1603 to 1868. The political entity of this period was the Tokugawa shogunate....

) as the first in Hokusai's series Thirty-six Views of Mount Fuji , and is his most famous work. This particular woodblock is one of the most recognized works of Japanese art in the world. It depicts an enormous wave
Ocean surface wave
In fluid dynamics, wind waves or, more precisely, wind-generated waves are surface waves that occur on the free surface of oceans, seas, lakes, rivers, and canals or even on small puddles and ponds. They usually result from the wind blowing over a vast enough stretch of fluid surface. Waves in the...

 threatening boats near the Japanese prefecture
Prefectures of Japan
The prefectures of Japan are the country's 47 subnational jurisdictions: one "metropolis" , Tokyo; one "circuit" , Hokkaidō; two urban prefectures , Osaka and Kyoto; and 43 other prefectures . In Japanese, they are commonly referred to as...

 of Kanagawa. While sometimes assumed to be a tsunami
Tsunami
A tsunami is a series of water waves caused by the displacement of a large volume of a body of water, typically an ocean or a large lake...

, the wave is, as the picture's title notes, more likely to be a large okinami - literally "wave of the open sea." As in all the prints in the series, it depicts the area around Mount Fuji
Mount Fuji
is the highest mountain in Japan at . An active stratovolcano that last erupted in 1707–08, Mount Fuji lies about south-west of Tokyo, and can be seen from there on a clear day. Mount Fuji's exceptionally symmetrical cone is a well-known symbol of Japan and it is frequently depicted in art and...

 under particular conditions, and the mountain itself appears in the background.

Copies of the print are in many Western collections, including the Metropolitan Museum of Art
Metropolitan Museum of Art
The Metropolitan Museum of Art is a renowned art museum in New York City. Its permanent collection contains more than two million works, divided into nineteen curatorial departments. The main building, located on the eastern edge of Central Park along Manhattan's Museum Mile, is one of the...

 in New York City
New York City
New York is the most populous city in the United States and the center of the New York Metropolitan Area, one of the most populous metropolitan areas in the world. New York exerts a significant impact upon global commerce, finance, media, art, fashion, research, technology, education, and...

, the British Museum
British Museum
The British Museum is a museum of human history and culture in London. Its collections, which number more than seven million objects, are amongst the largest and most comprehensive in the world and originate from all continents, illustrating and documenting the story of human culture from its...

 in London
London
London is the capital city of :England and the :United Kingdom, the largest metropolitan area in the United Kingdom, and the largest urban zone in the European Union by most measures. Located on the River Thames, London has been a major settlement for two millennia, its history going back to its...

, The Art Institute of Chicago
Art Institute of Chicago
The School of the Art Institute of Chicago is one of America's largest accredited independent schools of art and design, located in the Loop in Chicago, Illinois. It is associated with the museum of the same name, and "The Art Institute of Chicago" or "Chicago Art Institute" often refers to either...

, and in Claude Monet
Claude Monet
Claude Monet was a founder of French impressionist painting, and the most consistent and prolific practitioner of the movement's philosophy of expressing one's perceptions before nature, especially as applied to plein-air landscape painting. . Retrieved 6 January 2007...

's house in Giverny
Giverny
Giverny is a commune in the Eure department in north-western France. It is best known as the location of Claude Monet's garden and home.-Location:Giverny sits on the "right bank" of the River Seine where the river Epte meets the Seine...

, France
France
The French Republic , The French Republic , The French Republic , (commonly known as France , is a unitary semi-presidential republic in Western Europe with several overseas territories and islands located on other continents and in the Indian, Pacific, and Atlantic oceans. Metropolitan France...

.

Ukiyo-e art




is a Japanese print technique, which was very popular during the Edo period. The technique of printing from blocks of wood was introduced to Japan in the 8th century from China and was used principally for the illustration of Buddhist texts. From the 17th century the technique began to be used for the illustration of poems and romances. It was this period that really saw the rise of the style known as ukiyo-e, which reflected the lives and interests of the lowest classes of society: merchants, artists and rōnin
Ronin
A or rounin was a Bushi with no lord or master during the feudal period of Japan. A samurai became masterless from the death or fall of his master, or after the loss of his master's favor or privilege....

, who were developing their own art and literature in urban areas such as Edo
Edo
, also romanized as Yedo or Yeddo, is the former name of the Japanese capital Tokyo, and was the seat of power for the Tokugawa shogunate which ruled Japan from 1603 to 1868...

 (today's Tokyo
Tokyo
, ; officially , is one of the 47 prefectures of Japan. Tokyo is the capital of Japan, the center of the Greater Tokyo Area, and the largest metropolitan area of Japan. It is the seat of the Japanese government and the Imperial Palace, and the home of the Japanese Imperial Family...

), Osaka
Osaka
is a city in the Kansai region of Japan's main island of Honshu, a designated city under the Local Autonomy Law, the capital city of Osaka Prefecture and also the biggest part of Keihanshin area, which is represented by three major cities of Japan, Kyoto, Osaka and Kobe...

 and Sakai
Sakai, Osaka
is a city in Osaka Prefecture, Japan. It has been one of the largest and most important seaports of Japan since the Medieval era.Following the February 2005 annexation of the town of Mihara, from Minamikawachi District, the city has grown further and is now the fourteenth most populous city in...

, in a movement which was later called ukiyo, the floating world. It was the novelist Asai Ryōi
Asai Ryoi
was a Japanese writer in the early Edo period. A Buddhist priest who was at one time head of a Kyoto temple, he is held to be one of the finest writers of Kanazōshi. Kanazōshi was a form of popular literature that was written with little or no kanji, thus accessible to many. Though it spanned...

 who in 1661 defined the movement in his book Ukiyo-monogatari: "living only for the moment, savouring the moon, the snow, the cherries in flower and the leaves of the maple, singing songs, drinking sake and enjoying simply floating, indifferent to the prospect of impending poverty, optimistic and carefree, like a pumpkin dragged along by the current of the river."

Thanks to movements such as the ukiyo literature
Ukiyozoshi
is the first major genre of popular Japanese fiction, written between the 1680s and the 1770s in Kyoto and Osaka. Ukiyozōshi literature developed from the kanazōshi genre and was in fact initially classified as kanazōshi...

 and the prints, the populace began to have more contact with artistic movements. Around the middle of the 17th century the artists began to reflect what was happening in the pleasure districts, kabuki
Kabuki
is classical Japanese dance-drama. Kabuki theatre is known for the stylization of its drama and for the elaborate make-up worn by some of its performers.The individual kanji characters, from left to right, mean sing , dance , and skill...

, festivals and on journeys. The latter gave birth to guidebooks which described the highlights of both the cities and the countryside.

Around 1670 the first of the great masters of ukiyo-e, Hishikawa Moronobu
Hishikawa Moronobu
was a Japanese painter and printmaker known for his advancement of the ukiyo-e woodcut style starting in the 1670s.-Early life and training:Moronobu was the son of a well-respected dyer and a gold and silver-thread embroiderer in the village of Hodamura, Awa Province, near Edo Bay. After moving to...

, appeared. Moronobu began to produce prints on a single sheet showing flowers, birds, female forms and erotic scenes of a type known as shunga
Shunga
' is a Japanese term for erotic art. Most shunga are a type of ukiyo-e, usually executed in woodblock print format. While rare, there are extant erotic painted handscrolls which predate the Ukiyo-e movement...

. This type of print was produced in black ink on white paper, and the artist could later add different colours by hand. By the end of the 18th century the techniques had been developed to allow printing of multi-coloured prints known as nishiki-e.

Technique



Ukiyo-e pictures (called nikuhitsu ukiyo-e in Japanese), were single works which the painter would produce with brushes directly onto paper
Washi
is a type of paper made in Japan. Washi is commonly made using fibers from the bark of the gampi tree, the mitsumata shrub , or the paper mulberry, but also can be made using bamboo, hemp, rice, and wheat...

 or silk
Silk
Silk is a natural protein fiber, some forms of which can be woven into textiles. The best-known type of silk is obtained from the cocoons of the larvae of the mulberry silkworm Bombyx mori reared in captivity...

. In these paintings it is possible to get a far greater appreciation of the lines, form and colour than in the simple preparatory sketches which the artists produced for the engravings. Afterwards the artist (eshi), would take the work to a horishi, or engraver, who would attach the painting to a panel of wood (usually cherry
Sakura
A cherry blossom is the flower of any of several trees of genus Prunus, particularly the Japanese Cherry, Prunus serrulata, which is sometimes called sakura after the Japanese . Many of the varieties that have been cultivated for ornamental use do not produce fruit...

), and then carefully carve it away to form a relief of the lines of the image. Finally, with all the necessary plates (usually one for each colour), a surishi or printer would produce the print by placing the printing paper on each plate consecutively The impression was produced by rubbing an implement called a baren over the backs of the sheets. This system could produce tonal variations in the prints. There could be a great number of impressions produced, sometimes thousands, before the plates wore out.

Because of the nature of the production process, the final work was the result of a collaboration in which the painter generally did not participate in the production of the prints.

Even though no law of intellectual property
Intellectual property
Intellectual property is a term referring to a number of distinct types of creations of the mind for which a set of exclusive rights are recognized—and the corresponding fields of law...

 existed in Japan before the Meiji era, there was still a sense of ownership and rights with respect to the plates (known as zōhan) from which the prints were produced. Rather than belonging to the artist, the plates were considered the property of the hanmoto (publisher) or honya (publisher/bookseller) who could do with them as he wished. In some cases the plates were sold or transferred to other publishers, in which case they became known as kyūhan.

Hokusai



Hokusai was born in 1760, in Katsushika
Katsushika, Tokyo
is one of the special wards of Tokyo, Japan. It lies in the northeast of the ward area. The ward calls itself Katsushika City in English.As of 2008, the ward has an estimated population of 429,289 and a density of 12,600 people per km²...

,a district in the east of Edo
Edo
, also romanized as Yedo or Yeddo, is the former name of the Japanese capital Tokyo, and was the seat of power for the Tokugawa shogunate which ruled Japan from 1603 to 1868...

 (now Tokyo
Tokyo
, ; officially , is one of the 47 prefectures of Japan. Tokyo is the capital of Japan, the center of the Greater Tokyo Area, and the largest metropolitan area of Japan. It is the seat of the Japanese government and the Imperial Palace, and the home of the Japanese Imperial Family...

). His birth name was Tokitarō, and he was the son of a mirror maker to the shōgun
Shogun
A was one of the hereditary military dictators of Japan from 1192 to 1867. In this period, the shoguns, or their shikken regents , were the de facto rulers of Japan though they were nominally appointed by the emperor...

. As he was never recognised for the purposes of inheritance, it is probable that his mother was a concubine.

He started painting at six and at 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 the artist Katsukawa Shunshō
Katsukawa Shunsho
was a Japanese painter and printmaker in the ukiyo-e style, and the leading artist of the Katsukawa school. Shunshō studied under Miyagawa Shunsui, son and student of Miyagawa Chōshun, both equally famous and talented ukiyo-e artists. Shunshō is most well known for introducing a new form of...

, one of the foremost ukiyo-e artists of the time. After a year, his master gave him the name Shunrō, the name he used to sign his first works in 1779.

Shunshō died in 1793, so by himself Hokusai began to study distinct Japanese and Chinese styles and some Dutch and French painting. During this period he mainly concentrated on producing surimono
Surimono
are a genre of Japanese woodblock print. They were privately commissioned for special occasions such as the New Year. Surimono literally means "printed thing". Being produced in small numbers for a mostly educated audience of literati, surimono were often more experimental in subject matter and...

, or New Year's cards, and advertisements, scenes of daily life and landscapes.
In 1800 he published Famous Views of the Eastern Capital and Eight views of Edo, and also began to accept students. It was during this period that he began to use the name Hokusai; he used more than 30 different pseudonyms during his life.

In 1804 he became famous as an artist when, during a festival in Tokyo, he completed a 240m² painting of a Buddhist monk named Daruma. Soon afterwards he appeared before the shōgun Tokugawa Ienari
Tokugawa Ienari
Tokugawa Ienari; 徳川 家斉 was the eleventh and longest serving shogun of the Tokugawa shogunate of Japan who held office from 1787 to 1837.-First wife:...

 when he won a talent competition against an artist working the traditional Chinese style. Three years later he began work illustrating three books of the novelist Takizawa Bakin, with whom he argued. In 1812, the precarious economic situation forced him to publish a manual, Quick Lessons in Simplified Drawing and to travel to Nagoya and Kyoto
Kyoto
is a city in the central part of the island of Honshū, Japan. It has a population close to 1.5 million. Formerly the imperial capital of Japan, it is now the capital of Kyoto Prefecture, as well as a major part of the Osaka-Kobe-Kyoto metropolitan area.-History:...

 to try to sign up students. In 1814 he published the first of fifteen volumes of sketches, entitled Manga
Hokusai Manga
The is a collection of sketches of various subjects by the Japanese artist Hokusai. Subjects of the sketches include landscapes, flora and fauna, everyday life and the supernatural. The word manga in the title does not refer to the contemporary story-telling manga, as the sketches in the work are...

 which included things that interested him such as people, animals and the Buddha
Buddha
In Buddhism, buddhahood is the state of perfect enlightenment attained by a buddha .In Buddhism, the term buddha usually refers to one who has become enlightened...

. During the last years of the 1820s he published his famous Thirty-six Views of Mount Fuji which proved so popular that he later had to add a further ten prints.

Later works included Unusual Views of Celebrated Bridges in the Provinces, A Tour of the Waterfalls of the Provinces and One Hundred Views of Mount Fuji. In 1839, just as his work started to be eclipsed by that of Andō Hiroshige, his studio burned down and most of his work was destroyed. He died at the age of 89, in 1849.

Some years before his death he is reported to have stated:

Description


This impression is of the yoko-e type, in landscape, and was produced to the ōban size, 25 centimetres high by 37 wide .

The landscape consists of three elements: the sea whipped up by a storm, three boats and a mountain. The composition is complemented by the signature which stands out in the upper left-hand corner.

The mountain


The mountain that is seen at the bottom is Mount Fuji
Mount Fuji
is the highest mountain in Japan at . An active stratovolcano that last erupted in 1707–08, Mount Fuji lies about south-west of Tokyo, and can be seen from there on a clear day. Mount Fuji's exceptionally symmetrical cone is a well-known symbol of Japan and it is frequently depicted in art and...

, with a snowcapped peak. Fuji is the central figure in the meisho-e work (representation of famous places) Thirty six views of Mount Fuji, which give a portrait of the mountain seen from various angles. In Japan Mt. Fuji is considered sacred and is a symbol of national identity, in addition to being considered a symbol of beauty.

The dark color around Fuji seems to indicate that the image takes place early in the morning, with the sun rising from the point of the observer, and illuminating the snowy peak. Between the mountain and the viewer there are cumulonimbus clouds, and although they indicate a storm, there is rain on neither Fuji nor the main scene.

Boats


In the scene there are three oshiokuri-bune, fast boats that are used to transport live fish from the Izu
Izu Province
was a province of Japan in the area of Shizuoka Prefecture. Izu bordered on Sagami and Suruga Provinces. Its abbreviated form name was .The mainland portion of Izu Province, comprising the Izu Peninsula is today the eastern portion of Shizuoka Prefecture and the Izu Islands are now part of...

 and Bōsō
Boso Peninsula
thumb|Locationthumb|Landsat image with high-resolution data from Space Shuttle is a peninsula in Chiba prefecture on Honshū, the largest island of Japan. It forms the eastern edge of Tokyo Bay, separating it from the Pacific Ocean....

 peninsulas to the markets of the bay of Edo
Tokyo Bay
is a bay in the southern Kantō region of Japan. Its old name was .-Geography:Tokyo Bay is surrounded by the Bōsō Peninsula to the east and the Miura Peninsula to the west. In a narrow sense, Tokyo Bay is the area north of the straight line formed by the on the Miura Peninsula on one end and on...

. As the name of the piece indicates the boats are in Kanagawa prefecture, with Tokyo to the north, Mt Fuji to the northeast, the bay of Sagami
Sagami Bay
Sagami Bay , also known as the Sagami Gulf or Sagami Sea, lies south of Kanagawa Prefecture in Honshū, central Japan, contained within the scope of the Miura Peninsula, in Kanagawa, to the east, the Izu Peninsula, in Shizuoka Prefecture, to the west, and the Shōnan coastline to the north, while the...

 to the south. and the bay of Tokyo to the east. The boats oriented to the southeast, are returning to the capital.

There are eight rowers per boat, clinging to their oars. There are two more passengers in the front of each boat, bringing the total number of human figures in the image to thirty. Using the boats as reference, one can approximate the size of the wave: the oshiokuri-bune were generally between 12 to 15 meters long, and noting that Hokusai reduced the vertical scale by 30%, the wave must be between 10 to 12 meters tall.

The sea and the waves


The sea is the dominant element of the composition, that is taken up by an extending wave about to break, which dominates the entire scene. In the moment captured in this image the wave forms a circle whose center is in the center of the design, allowing the viewer to see Mt Fuji in the background.

Edmond de Goncourt
Edmond de Goncourt
Edmond de Goncourt , born Edmond Louis Antoine Huot de Goncourt, was a French writer, literary critic, art critic, book publisher and the founder of the Académie Goncourt.-Biography:...

 described the wave in this way:
Andreas Ramos, a writer, notes:

Signature



The Great Wave off Kanagawa has two inscriptions. The first, the title of the series, is written on the upper-left side inside a rectangular box, where it's written: "冨嶽三十六景/神奈川冲/浪裏" Fugaku Sanjūrokkei / Kanagawa oki / nami ura, which translates to "Thirty six views of Mount Fuji / offshore from Kanagawa / Beneath the wave".
The second inscription, on the left of the box, is the artist's signature: 北斎改为一笔 Hokusai aratame Iitsu hitsu which is read as "from the brush of Hokusai, who changed his name to Iitsu".

Hokusai, given his humble beginning, didn't have a last name, and his first pen-name, Katsushika, referred to the region he came from. Over his career, he used more than 30 different names, never beginning a new cycle of works without changing it, letting his students use the previous name.

In his work Thirty Six views from Mount Fuji he used four distinct signatures, changing signature according to the phase of the work: Hokusai aratame Iitsu hitsu, zen Hokusai Iitsu hitsu, Hokusai Iitsu hitsu and zen saki no Hokusai Iitsu hitsu.

Design of the work


While composing the image, Hokusai came across a period of great difficulty. Being in his 60s, in 1826 he was suffering serious financial problems, in 1827 it seems he had a major health problem —possibly a stroke—, the next year his wife passed away and in 1829 he had to rescue his grandson from bankruptcy, all of which drove him into poverty. Despite this, in 1830 he sent the grandson to the countryside with his father —adopted son of Hokusai—, the financial repercussions would continue for several years: the period when he was creating thirty-six Views of Mount Fuji. It is perhaps because of those problems that the objective of the series seems to be contrasting the sacred Fuji with secular life.

Hokusai decided upon the final design only after years of work and having created other sketches. There are two similar works, dated some 30 years before the publication of The Great Wave, that are its precursors. They are Kanagawa-oki Honmoku no zu and Oshiokuri Hato Tsusen no Zu, both works with 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. An analysis of the differences between the two works and the Great Wave demonstrates the artistic and technical development of Hokusai:
  • In the two first designs the waves appear to be dense and uniform, they almost seem to be minerals. 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 make 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 at the bottom, 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.


Some years thereafter, Hokusai returned to the image of the Great Wave when he completed the work Kaijo no Fuji, for the second volume of One Hundred Views of Fuji. In this print there is the same relation between the wave and the volcano, and the same burst of foam. In this image and there are no humans or boats, and the fragments of the wave coincide with the flight of birds. While in The Great Wave the motion of the wave is the opposite of Japanese reading -from right to left- in Kaijo no Fuji the wave as well as the birds move as a Japanese reader would expect.

Copies of the Woodblock


There are various copies of this work throughout the world. The Metropolitan Museum of Art
Metropolitan Museum of Art
The Metropolitan Museum of Art is a renowned art museum in New York City. Its permanent collection contains more than two million works, divided into nineteen curatorial departments. The main building, located on the eastern edge of Central Park along Manhattan's Museum Mile, is one of the...

 in New York
New York
New York is a state in the Northeastern region of the United States. It is the nation's third most populous state. New York is bordered by New Jersey and Pennsylvania to the south, and by Connecticut, Massachusetts and Vermont to the east...

, the British Museum
British Museum
The British Museum is a museum of human history and culture in London. Its collections, which number more than seven million objects, are amongst the largest and most comprehensive in the world and originate from all continents, illustrating and documenting the story of human culture from its...

 in London
London
London is the capital city of :England and the :United Kingdom, the largest metropolitan area in the United Kingdom, and the largest urban zone in the European Union by most measures. Located on the River Thames, London has been a major settlement for two millennia, its history going back to its...

, the collection of Claude Monet
Claude Monet
Claude Monet was a founder of French impressionist painting, and the most consistent and prolific practitioner of the movement's philosophy of expressing one's perceptions before nature, especially as applied to plein-air landscape painting. . Retrieved 6 January 2007...

 in Giverny
Giverny
Giverny is a commune in the Eure department in north-western France. It is best known as the location of Claude Monet's garden and home.-Location:Giverny sits on the "right bank" of the River Seine where the river Epte meets the Seine...

, France
France
The French Republic , The French Republic , The French Republic , (commonly known as France , is a unitary semi-presidential republic in Western Europe with several overseas territories and islands located on other continents and in the Indian, Pacific, and Atlantic oceans. Metropolitan France...

, the Sackler Gallery
Arthur M. Sackler Gallery
The Arthur M. Sackler Gallery joins the Freer Gallery of Art to form the Smithsonian Institution's national museums of Asian art. The Sackler celebrates its twenty-fifth anniversary in 2012....

, the Guimet Museum
Guimet Museum
The Guimet Museum is a museum of Asian art located at 6, place d'Iéna in the 16th arrondissement of Paris, France...

 and the National Library of France are some of the places where this work is on exposition.

Some private collections also have a copy, as is the case of the Gale collection in the USA.

It was private collectors during the 20th century that launched the woodblock print collections in these museums. For example, the copy that is in the Metropolitan Museum in New York comes from the antique collection of Henry Osborne Havemeyer, and was donated by Mrs. Havemeyer in 1929. In the same way, the copy in the National Library of France was acquired in 1888 from the collection of Samuel Bing
Samuel Bing
Siegfried Bing , often referenced erroneously as "Samuel Bing", was a German art dealer who lived in Paris as an adult, and who helped introduce Japanese art and artworks to the West and was a factor in the development of the Art Nouveau style during the late nineteenth century.-Biography:Bing was...

. As for the copy in the Guimet Museum, it comes from the legacy of Raymond Koechlin, and has been in the museum since 1932.

Even today it is possible to buy an original copy of the work. One copy from the Huguette Beres collection was auctioned on March 7, 2003, the bidding reached 23,000 euros.
The 46 prints from the series Thirty Six Views of Mount Fuji were auctioned at Sothebys in 2002 for a total of 1,350,000 euros.

Differences between the versions


Given that the series was a great hit when it came out, printing continued until the woodblocks started to show significant wear. It is likely that the original woodblocks printed around 5,000 copies.

It is possible to determine the degree of damage that the woodblocks had already sustained at the moment of impression of any given copy by an analysis of two characteristic points. The first one is located just behind the right-side of the boat; in the impressions from worn woodblocks, the line is not continuous. The second point is on the left side of the signature box, where the lines that form it should be continuous.

The state of conservation of the impressions can be easily observed in the coloring of the sky in the upper part. Copies in a good state of conservation, as is the case of the Metropolitan Museum's, maintain the color as it should be, showing a marked contrast with the clouds. Given that many reproductions have been lost through history, in wars, earthquakes, fires and other natural disasters, few well-preserved copies still exist in which the edges of the woodblocks were still sharp at the time of printing.

Non original copies and derivative works



Like other well known Japanese prints, the Great Wave has been frequently copied using the same techniques, as well as reproduced by photo-mechanical means. These copies are often confused with the authentic original print.

The print is one of the most reproduced artworks in the world, and was one of the subjects of the BBC
BBC
The British Broadcasting Corporation is a British public service broadcaster. Its headquarters is at Broadcasting House in the City of Westminster, London. It is the largest broadcaster in the world, with about 23,000 staff...

 documentary series, "The Private Life of a Masterpiece
The Private Life of a Masterpiece
The Private Life of a Masterpiece was a BBC arts documentary series which told the stories behind great works of art; 29 episodes of the series were broadcast on BBC Two, commencing in 2001 and ending in 2010. It initially ran for five seasons from 2001 to 2006, for a total of 22 episodes; each...

", which detailed the fascination surrounding the work in the East and West, its influence, and the artist's insights into a number of different areas, as revealed through the piece.

The print is the subject of episode 93 of the radio series A History of the World in 100 Objects
A History of the World in 100 Objects
A History of the World in 100 Objects was a joint project of BBC Radio 4 and the British Museum, comprising a 100-part radio series written and presented by British Museum director Neil MacGregor...

, broadcast in September 2010.

The logo used by the Quiksilver
Quiksilver
Quiksilver, Inc. , is an American company based in Huntington Beach, California, one of the world's largest manufacturers of surfwear and other boardsport-related equipment...

 clothing company was inspired by the Great Wave.

External links