The Japanese painter and printmaker Katsushika Hokusai produced 1,000 paintings and 3,000 color prints during a long career. So the recent unearthing of 103 Hokusai drawings—released from a French private collection, acquired by the British Museum at auction—may seem like a drop in the bucket. It isn’t. Not only do the drawings shed light on Hokusai’s working methods, these intricate depictions of religious, historical, and literary figures, all dating to 1829, are a fascinating springboard for the world-famous work soon to follow, Hokusai’s magisterial print series “Thirty-Six Views of Mount Fuji” (circa 1830–1832), which begins with the iconic The Great Wave off Kanagawa. An exhibition of the drawings is planned, but in the meantime, viewers can see the small-scale ink pieces on the museum’s Web site. —J.V.
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