Hokusai’s artistic intricacies at the British Museum

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Hokusai drawings are on show at the British Museum this autumn

O ver 100 newly rediscovered artworks by Japanese artist Katsushika Hokusai are on display at London’s British Museum.

The exhibition, Hokusai: The Great Picture Book of Everything comprises a fascinating collection of drawings, originally created by Hokusai for a printed work entitled The Great Picture Book of Everything.

The 103 small images came to light in 2019 and were purchased by the British Museum last year. They are believed to have been in a private French collection since the late 1940s, having formerly belonged to the Art Nouveau jeweller Henri Vever (who died in 1942).

The beautifully observed and intricate artworks illustrate a broad range of subjects related to China, India and the natural world. Despite this, at the time Hokusai (1760–1849) conceived The Great Picture Book of Everything, most Japanese people were forbidden from travelling abroad and the artist himself never left his homeland.

Commenting on the exhibition, Hartwig Fischer, director of the British Museum, said: 'Hokusai’s art combines boundless invention, subtle humour and deep humanity… These important works were shared with the world during lockdown through our collections online as high-quality digital images. We are delighted to continue this work with this display.'

Alfred Haft, JTI Project Curator for Japanese Collections at the British Museum, added: 'Hokusai’s brush-drawings burst with energy. As the artist himself hoped, each dot and each line almost seems to have a life of its own. This remarkable rediscovery will speak to anyone who loves Japanese art or simply the art of drawing.'

Hokusai: The Great Picture Book of Everything runs until 30 January 2022 at London's British Museum. For more information go to the British Museum website.

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