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A Monthly Culture Matrix For the Cosmopolitan Traveler

Hokusai: The Great Picture Book of Everything


British Museum / London / Art

Surely there are hundreds of thousands of people around the world who’ve chosen Katsushika Hokusai’s Under the Wave of Kanagawa (1831) as their laptop screensaver. A new exhibition at the British Museum presents this beloved print—a massive wave on the cusp of swallowing Mount Fuji—along with less-known work by the Edo-period artist. Especially exciting are 103 brush drawings obtained from a never-published illustrated encyclopedia titled The Great Picture Book of Everything. Hokusai favored woodblock prints and ink brush to capture dynamic motion—from zigzagging dragons’ heads to a cat standoff in a hibiscus bush. These works, all produced between the 1820s and 1840s, depict scenes of Buddhist India, ancient China, and the natural world. They would later shape European Impressionist painting. —J.D.

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British Museum Great Russell St, Bloomsbury, London WC1B 3DG, UK
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