103 'Lost' Drawings Represent Hokusai 'At Peak of His Powers' In Late Life

  • February 11, 2021 13:02

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India, river of quicksand. The wind forms waves in the sand’ by Katsushika Hokusai, 1829. Credit: © The Trustees of the British Museum

The British Museum acquired a trove of 19th century Japanese master printmaker Hokusai's "rediscovered" drawings for £270,000, with Art Fund assistance, last year that will make up an exhibition and new book in September. 

The 103 drawings emerged at a French auction in 2019. Laura Gascoigne writes for Spectator: "For Hokusai scholars, it fills a lacuna in the artist’s biography previously regarded as a career low point. In 1829 Hokusai suffered a minor stroke — successfully treated, he tells us, with hot sake and lemon — and lost his wife; the following year he wrote to his publishers begging for work. But far from languishing, these drawings show the 70-year-old artist at the peak of his powers, limbering up for the climactic Thirty-Six Views of Mount Fuji (c.1831) that would usher in the most productive period of his life."

"‘Ever since I was six, I have been obsessed with drawing the shapes of things…’ he would later write in the preface to One Hundred Views of Mount Fuji, ‘but nothing I produced before the age of seventy is worthy of note.’ By the end of his life, the artist signing himself ‘Old Man Mad about Drawing’ was reporting ‘a strange thing… my characters, my animals, my insects and my fish seem to be escaping from the paper’."

View all of the drawings on the British Museum website.

Read more at Spectator

Tags: asian art

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