Main detail of “Under the Wave off Kanagawa”, from the Thirty-six Views of Mt Fuji. Woodblock print by Katsushika Hokusai , 1830-33, Japan. BritishMuseum
This is perhaps the single most famous of Hokusai’s woodblock prints - perhaps of all Japanese prints. It belongs to the series ‘Thirty-six views of Mount Fuji’ (Fugaku sanjûrokkei). The graceful snow-clad mountain stands out unperturbed against the deep blue of the horizon. Yet it is reduced to a tiny hillock compared with the towering strength of the wave which threatens to engulf the struggling boats. Such clever, playful manipulation of the composition is a feature of many of Hokusai’s works.