Katsushika Hokusai Biography

Katsushika Hokusai was a Japanese painter and printmaker, best known for his painting series ‘Thirty-Six Views of Mount Fuji.’ Check out this biography to know about his childhood, family, personal life, career, and achievements.

Quick Facts

Birthday: October 31, 1760

Nationality: Japanese

Famous: Artists Japanese Men

Died At Age: 88

Sun Sign: Scorpio

Also Known As: Hokusai, Tokitarō

Born Country: Japan

Born in: Edo, Tokyo, Japan

Famous as: Artist

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Family:

father: Nakajima Ise

Died on: May 10, 1849

place of death: Edo, Tokyo, Japan

City: Tokyo, Japan

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Katsushika Hokusai was a Japanese painter and printmaker, best known for the paintings ‘The Great Wave off Kanagawa’ and ‘Fine Wind, Clear Morning,’ part of his painting series ‘Thirty-Six Views of Mount Fuji.’ Due to its spiritual significance, Mount Fuji inspired him and most of his works and brought him worldwide recognition. He began painting in the traditional form of the “ukiyo-e” genre. Over the years, her reformed and redefined the genre. He is known to have used the highest number of pseudonyms among the renowned Japanese artists and is still the most recognized of them. It is believed that he had contributed to more than 30,000 pieces of work. He painted until the end of his life. He and his works have inspired and influenced artists and art patrons across the globe.

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Childhood & Early Life
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Career
  • Within a year of working with Katsukawa Shunshō’s studio, and under his first pseudonym, “Shunro” (as named by his master), Hokusai’s first series of “ukiyo-e” paintings portraying “kabuki” actors were published.
  • After the death of Shunshō in 1793, he incorporated changes in his “ukiyo-e” paintings, influenced by works that were smuggled into Japan from the West, especially from France and the Netherlands.
  • However, Shunko, the chief disciple of Shunshō, who helmed the studio after his master’s death, expelled Hokusai from the studio. Hokusai turned this humiliating incident into an opportunity and developed his unique artistic style.
  • He moved away from the common “ukiyo-e” subjects to images that captured landscapes and the everyday lives of Japanese people of different social standing. One of his well-known works, ‘Fireworks in the Cool of Evening at Ryogoku Bridge in Edo,’ incorporated the changes that he had introduced. His deviation from the traditional subjects revolutionized the genre and also brought him the attention he deserved.
  • He partnered with ‘Tawaraya School.’ After adopting the name “Tawaraya Sōri,” he created several brush paintings called “surimono,” a style of woodblock print for the educated audiences, produced in limited numbers and commissioned mostly by Japanese poetry societies. He also made illustrations for “kyōka ehon” (meaning “Illustrated book of humorous poems”) under this pseudonym.
  • Toward the end of the 18th century, he adopted his most well-known pseudonym, “Katsushika Hokusai,” and continued evolving the “ukiyo-e” for purposes other than painting, thus releasing two collections of landscapes: ‘Famous Sights of the Eastern Capital’ and ‘Eight Views of Edo.’
  • In 1804, he painted a massive-sized portrait of Buddhist priest Daruma. Around the same time, he won a competition in the court of Shogun Ienari of Tokugawa
  • He partnered with the famous novelist Takizawa Bakin in 1807, for a series of illustrated books. However, their partnership ended on a sour note due to creative differences. Nevertheless, Hokusai continued to work on the books, as the publisher chose to retain him.
  • In 1811, a 51-year-old Hokusai adopted a new name, “Taito.” Under this name, he created ‘Hokusai Manga,’ a 15-volume series of sketches. The final volume was published posthumously in 1878. It was his most extensive work.
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  • He also created ‘Great Daruma,’ a portrait of the 5th-century Buddhist monk Bodhidharma. He painted it at the ‘Hongan-ji Nagoya Betsuin,’ Nagoya, Japan.
  • He then adopted the name “Iitsu” in 1820. Under this name, he created his most famous work, ‘The Great Wave,’ also called ‘The Great Wave off Kanagawa.’ It was the first of the series ‘Thirty-Six Views of Mount Fuji.’ ‘Fine Wind, Clear Morning,’ the next most-recognized work of his, followed soon. It is also known as ‘South Wind, Clear Sky’ and ‘Red Fuji.’
  • His other well-known series under this moniker were ‘A Tour of the Waterfalls of the Provinces,’ ‘Oceans of Wisdom,’ and ‘Unusual Views of Celebrated Bridges in the Provinces.’
  • As “Iitsu,” he also produced individual paintings, the most famous of them being ‘Poppies’ and ‘Flock of Chickens.’
  • In 1834, he adopted the name “Gakyo Rojin” and published the series ‘One Hundred Views of Mount Fuji.’
  • His studio and his works were destroyed by a fire in 1839.
  • He spent his last few years in Obuse, currently in Nagano Prefecture. Those years saw him produce some of his best-known works, such as ‘Masculine Wave,’ ‘Feminine Wave,’ and ‘Ducks in a Stream’ (published when he was 87).
  • He also tutored 50 students while producing his series of artwork.
  • Some of his well-known publications were ‘The Dragon of Smoke Escaping from Mt Fuji,’ ‘Kirifuri Waterfall at Kurokami Mountain in Shimotsuke,’ ‘Cuckoo and Azaleas,’ ‘The Ghost of Oiwa,’ ‘Courtesan Asleep,’ and ‘The Yodo River (Moon).’
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Family, Personal Life & Death
  • During his long stint at Shunshō’s studio, Hokusai married his first wife. However, she passed away in the early 1790s. He remarried in 1797. His second wife, too, suffered an untimely death.
  • He had five children, two sons and three daughters, with his wives. His youngest daughter, Oi, also known as Ei, followed in her father’s footsteps and became a famous artist.
  • He followed Nichiren Buddhism, and it influenced his art.
  • He died on May 10, 1849, which coincided with the 18th day of the fourth month of the second year of the Kaei era (by the old calendar).
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Legacy
  • Several artists in Europe were among his admirers. While some collected his works, others produced art inspired by him. A few such names are Vincent van Gogh, Claude Monet, Edgar Degas, and August Macke.
  • He influenced art movements such as the ‘Art Nouveau’ movement in architecture and the ‘Impressionist’ movement in painting.
  • ‘24 Views of Mt. Fuji, by Hokusai’ is a ‘Hugo Award’-winning short story by science-fiction author Roger Zelazny.
  • ‘The Drawings of Hokusai,’ ‘Hokusai and His School: Paintings, Drawings and Illustrated Books,’ and ‘Hokusai: Paintings, Drawings and Woodcuts’ are the names of some of his biographies.
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Trivia
  • The bicentennial celebrations of the painting ‘Great Daruma’ were conducted on November 23, 2017, and a portrait of the same size was reproduced by employing the same materials and techniques.
  • ‘Thirty-Six Views of Mount Fuji’ now consists of 10 new paintings, which were added after the initial publication, taking the tally to 46.
  • The word “Hokusai” means “North Studio.”
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How To Cite

Article Title
- Katsushika Hokusai Biography
Author
- Editors, TheFamousPeople.com
Website
- TheFamousPeople.com
URL
https://www.thefamouspeople.com/profiles/katsushika-hokusai-37322.php
Last Updated
- November 21, 2019
Katsushika Hokusai

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