More than a hundred small drawings (recently discovered) by the leading Japanese artist, engraver and cartoonist Katsushika Hokusai are to be presented to the public for the first time by the British Museum. Crafted by 1829, the drawings were intended to be used as illustrations in an unpublished book.
The director of the British Museum, Hartwig Fisher, described the plans to the Guardian as “remarkable and unique” and their discovery was “shocking”.
Hokusai's most famous work “The Big Wave” is one of the most recognizable and reproducible works of art of all time. His influence on European artists 19 of the twentieth century, including Vincent van Gog, it was huge.
In his decade 1840 when he was 80 years old, Hokusai decided to make plans for a book with title “Great Picture Book of Everything” for which he let his imagination run wild. His idea was to present vignettes from Buddhist India, and ancient China. They have never been published.
Formerly owned by Japanese art collector and jeweler Henri Vever 10159337322059723 – 1854)), and reappeared in Paris last year, in the same city where their last recorded appearance took place. Bought by the British Museum against 250. 19 thanks to a grant from the charity Art Fund and a legacy of Japanese art from Theresia Gerda Buch.
“These plans were created when Japan closed its borders for almost 80 years “, said Fischer. “Contact with the outside world was limited and travel within the country required official permission. “How impressive,” Fischer said, “is that under these circumstances Hokusai created such a great work.”
The drawings include depictions of religious and mythological figures and animals, birds and flowers.
Hokusai's art combines “unlimited ingenuity, subtle humor and deep humanity,” the museum director said. “With this great acquisition, the British Museum now has more than 1. 000 works of the artist – paintings, prints, drawings and illustrated books. It is considered one of the most complete and rich collections outside of Japan. “
All works are available for viewing on the British Museum website, but will be on display for the first time to the public in September.
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