Hokusai’s ‘The Great Wave’ goes under the hammer in June

Admirers of works by Edo-period Japanese woodblock print artist Katsushika Hokusai can now own a fine and early impression of his best known masterpiece, “Under the Great Wave off Kanagawa,” on sale at Sotheby’s upcoming Chinese Art auction on 1-2 June, which includes the late John Payne collection of Japanese prints.

“Under the Great Wave off Kanagawa”

Hokusai was widely considered as an important pioneer in the art of woodblock prints. Besides artworks, he created copybooks (also known as his “manga“) containing sketches of everyday objects, people, even kabuki dance instructions — a technical marvel at the time — for all his art students and fans.

“Sazai hall: Temple of Five Hundred Rakan”

His ukiyo-e-style genre paintings were considered so groundbreaking that they were widely sought after in the West, enamouring and influencing western Impressionist art contemporaries such as Degas, Cézanne, Monet and more; without Hokusai, modern art today would look completely different.

“Under Mannen Bridge at Fukagawa”

From 1-2 June, several fine Japanese woodblock prints from a private Hong Kong collection will go under the hammer, including the iconic “Under the Great Wave off Kanagawa” from the artist’s series, “Thirty-Six Views of Mount Fuji.” This particular impression is from circa 1831, with strong blue contours, and pink clouds still visible where most other impressions of the masterpiece have lost this quality already. Other artworks from the series will also be sold, including impressions of works such as “Under Mannen Bridge at Fukagawa,” “Sazai hall: Temple of Five Hundred Rakan,” and “Senju, Musashi Province.” The highlight print and Hokusai’s most well known piece, “The Great Wave,” is expected to fetch between HK$400,000-600,000.

You can view the pieces at the Sotheby’s gallery between 26-31 May, alongside other exquisite pieces from the Chinese Art sale, including two imperial celadon and brown jade seals that form the highlight of the sale. At the same time, you can also glimpse a collection of jet-white quality Qing Dynasty Jades that will also be auctioned off on 1 June.

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Sotheby’s Hong Kong Gallery, 5/F, One Pacific Place, 88 Queensway, Admiralty, Hong Kong