In a global first, the British Museum will display a collection of over 100 lost drawings by one of Japan’s most celebrated artists, Katsushika Hokusai.
Hokusai is particularly known for his iconic image, Under the Wave off Kanagawa – or as it popularly referred to, The Great Wave. This masterpiece that made Hokusai famous around the world will be on display in the exhibition alongside an extremely rare collection of drawings made by Hokusai between the 1820s-40s.
The drawings were made specially for an illustrated encyclopaedia, The Great Picture Book of Everything, which for unknown reasons was never published. This is a rare opportunity to see work by this legendary artist that came incredibly close to being destroyed and lost from public view forever. They depict various scenes from Buddhist India, ancient China and the natural world, exploring Japan’s connection to the wider world during the 19th century in a new light.
This exhibition is a love letter to an artist whose skill continued burning bright into the later years of his career, and is now, centuries later, the creator of one of the world’s best-known images ever produced. To explore more about how The Great Wave reached viral fame status in a world dominated by the internet, check out our film looking back at the major 2017 British Museum exhibition.
Works in this exhibition were acquired with Art Fund support.