'The Great Wave' is a colour woodblock print designed by Japanese artist Hokusai in around 1830. The print, of which numerous multiples were made, shows a monster of a wave rearing up and about to come crashing down on three fishing boats and their crews.
One of a monumental series known as 'Thirty-six views of Mount Fuji', Hokusai's Great Wave – with the graceful snow-clad Mount Fuji on the horizon, unperturbed but wittily dwarfed by the towering strength of the wave that threatens to engulf the struggling boats – has become an iconic image of the power of nature and the relative smallness of man. One of the most famous pieces of Japanese art, this extraordinary artwork has had a huge impact worldwide and has served as a source of inspiration to artists, both past and present.
This beautifully illustrated book explores the meaning behind Hokusai's Great Wave, in the context of the Mount Fuji series and Japanese art as a whole. Taking an intimate look at the Wave's artistic and historical significance and its influence on popular culture, this concise introduction explains why Hokusai's modern masterpiece had such an impact after its creation in 1830 and why it continues to fascinate, inspire and challenge today.
The author Tim Clark is the head of the Japanese collections at the British Museum.