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The Wick - JP1847

Dream Hokusai

Hokusai, The Great Wave, c.1831
Image: Metropolitan Museum of Modern Art, online database

It’s hard to think of a more famous image than Hokusai’s The Great Wave. Since its introduction to Europe in the mid-19th century, it’s starred in blockbuster exhibitions, commanded million-dollar sums at auction and inspired artists from Van Gogh to Debussy. It even has its own emoji.

Despite such celebrity, it’s in fact quite a terrifying image. Battling for survival against a towering wave with claw-like crest are fishing boats heading away from Edo (Tokyo). For many, it’s the perfect representation of man within nature. Hokusai was in his 70s when he created this image, which would go on to make both his name and his fortune.

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