About the Works

Breaking Waves

Katsushika Hokusai

  • 「Breaking Waves」 Katsushika Hokusai

Facsimiles of works in the collection of the Freer Gallery of Art, Smithsonian Institution, Washington, D.C. : Gift of Charles Lang Freer, F1905.276.

These images are based on the high resolution facsimile produced by the Tsuzuri Project. Unauthorized copying, duplication, or transfer of these images is strictly prohibited.

Katsushika Hokusai
Historical era:
Edo (19th century)
printed on silk
hanging scroll
High Resolution Facsimile of Japanese Art Abroad
H126.0 × W46.7 cm
Sumida Ward
The Sumida Hokusai MuseumMAP
Current owner:
The Freer Gallery of Art of the Smithsonian Institution
ink, color on silk

This work features an impressive contrast between dynamism and quietude, in the series of wild waves swelling violently and pushing toward a cliff on the one hand, and the peaceful hamlet with a long succession of thatch-roofed huts far beyond the waves on the other. The hook-like wave peaks evokes The Great Wave off Kanagawa from Thirty-six Views of Mount Fuji, which is the representative of Hokusai’s woodblock prints and one of Japan's most world-famous fine art works. From the way the artist depicts the foreground and background, we can observe Hokusai's outstanding technique that fuses the Japanese tradition of fine arts with the Western art of perspective. We know from his signature and seal that he painted this work at 88, two years before he died. Charles Lang Freer purchased this work in 1905 from the Japanese fine art dealer Kobayashi Bunshichi.

About the Works