Hokusai Katsushika, Sarugaku Theatre, Hokusai Manga

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Hokusai - Sarugaku Theatre
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Artist: Katsushika Hokusai (1760 - 1849)
Title: Sarugaku Theatre
Series: Hokusai Manga Volume 13
Publisher: Toheki-do
Published: 1814-1878
Size: 22.9 x 31.1 cm

Original Japanese woodblock print.

This print is from the Hokusai Manga (sketches) series published in 15 volumes. The first volume of the series was intended as a drawing instruction manual but Hokusai almost immediately removed the text and republished the drawings alone. The series took Hokusai on an encyclopaedic venture, from seemingly insignificant depictions of everyday objects to spirits and historical figures.

This print depicts village people performing the play 'Narihira Mochi' (Narihara's Ricecakes). The play falls under the genre of 'sarugaku', literally 'monkey music', which preceded the elite Noh theatre. Narihara is a Japanese poet of the Heian period who is supposed to have inspired the romantic male figures of The Tale of Genji and The Tales of Ise.

More Information
Print Format Double Page
Artist Name Hokusai Katsushika
Title Sarugaku Theatre
Subject Samurai & Male, Others
Dimensions 22.9 x 31.1 cm
Condition Report Binding holes. Thinning of paper in upper centre of right page.

Hokusai Katsushika


Katsushika Hokusai is considered to be one of the greatest artists not only by Japanese people, but by the entire art world. In the late 18th century, while prints of beautiful women (bijinga) and prints of actors (yakusha-e) were popular in the ukiyo-e world, Hokusai developed a new field in ukiyo-e, landscapes. He devoted almost all of his 90 years of life to drawing and painting. Never satisfied with one technique or mastering one style of drawing, he always sought to improve as an artist. In the mid-1810s, following his trip to the Kansai area, the first volume of Hokusai Manga was published. This series of sketchbooks consists of 15 volumes in total, covering a wide variety of subjects and is often referred to as a series of instructional drawing manuals intended to serve as a kind of textbooks for those who wanted to become artists.

In the early 1820s, Hokusai started working on the series “Thirty-six Views of Mt. Fuji” (Fugaku Sanjurokkei), which was finally published in 1830. It is certainly his most famous body of work and is often considered his best. The series actually consists of 46 images, including the “Great Wave at Kanagawa” (Kanagawa oki Namiura), “Fine Wind, Clear Weather” (Gaifu Kaisei) and “Rain Storm beneath the Summit” (Sanka Hakuu), which are known worldwide and are thought to have influenced French impressionists. His other famous series “Journeys to the Waterfalls in All Provinces” (Shokoku Taki Meguri) also appeared around this time period. In the mid-1830s, his illustrated book “One Hundred Views of Mt. Fuji” was published. Filled with depictions of the mountain in often dynamic compositions, this book, alongside “Thirty-six Views of Mt. Fuji”, established Hokusai as the ‘Mt. Fuji artist’.

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