Artist: Hokusai Katsushika (1760 – 1849)
Title: Musashi Senju
Series: Thirty-six Views of Mount Fuji
Publisher: Nishimuraya Yohachi
Published: circa 1829-1833
Dimensions: 24.4 x 37.2 cm
This print shows the view of Mount Fuji from Senju in Musashi Province. Three men, a horse and a structure of wooden beams with Mount Fuji surrounded by nature in the background are depicted. The men are gazing at the mountain in the distance with their backs turned towards the viewer.
Woodblock print series revolving around Japan’s most famous mountain have been created by many artists over the years, each in a particular style. Hokusai’s series, “Thirty-six Views of Mount Fuji”, has a few key-elements that make it Stand out from the crowd.
As is typical for a print by Hokusai, this image has an imaginative composition that is unusual for ukiyo-e. Unlike many of his contemporaries, Hokusai often chose to show Mount Fuji framed by objects placed in the middle and foreground of the image. In this case, one side of the sloping mountain is framed and empathised by a structure of wooden beams.
An avid interest in geometric forms is another feature of this series. When Mount Fuji is involved, Hokusai’s characters often become extensions of the shape of the mountain. Here, the fisherman’s raised arm draws the viewer’s eye to Mount Fuji and simultaneously extends its slope throughout the print. The same sloping shape is indicated in the lowered neck of the horse.
This artist’s talent for marrying Western perspective with a Japanese aesthetic is also worth mentioning. The wide expanses of his images seem to invite the viewer to enter their landscape and achieve a sense of space unparalleled by any other artist of the genre during the Edo period.