Our Art / Katsushika Hokusai / The Underwave off Kanagawa [from the series: Thirty-six Views of Mount Fuji]

The Underwave off Kanagawa [from the series: Thirty-six Views of Mount Fuji] by Katsushika Hokusai

The Underwave off Kanagawa [from the series: Thirty-six Views of Mount Fuji], 1829

Katsushika Hokusai

This artwork shows an enormous swell threatening two small boats. One, its crew cowering inside, is about to plunge inside the giant wave, while another is about to be swamped by the wave’s crest, which reaches claw-like towards the boat. While sometimes assumed to be a tsunami, the wave is probably a large rogue wave. This woodblock print is one of the most recognizable works of Japanese art in the world. It is the first print in Hokusai’s renowned series on Mount Fuji, and while the mountain isn’t exactly this print’s subject, it appears in the background, dwarfed by the close-up view of the roiling surf.

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Credit
Rijksmuseum