What Are the Most Famous Japanese Paintings?


Quick Answer

One famous Japanese painting is Katsushika Hokusai's "The Great Wave off Kanagawa," which he painted sometime between 1829 and 1832. The painting depicts two fishing boats surrounded by a large wave that dwarfs the image of Mount Fuji in the background.

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Other paintings by Hokusai include "One Hundred Views of Mount Fuji," "The Dragon of Smoke Escaping from Mt Fuji" and "The Strong Oi Pouring Sake." Hokusai's painting "The Dream of the Fisherman's Wife" influenced the early 20th-century artist Pablo Picasso. More Japanese paintings well-known to Western audiences include Ando Hiroshige's series of prints "The Fifty-Three Stations of the T?kaid?," which features scenes along the trade route to T?kaid?. These, and many famous Japanese artworks, belong to the genre of woodblock printing known as "ukiyo-e." Common "ukiyo-e" themes included illustrations of Buddist texts, historical legends, landscapes and brothel scenes. Artists first painted an image onto silk or paper and then took them to an engraver, who carefully carved printing plates for each color and printed them one-by-one on a sheet of paper. The "ukiyo-e" style lasted from the 17th to the 20th century. Another great Japanese work of art is Tawaraya Sotatsu's screen painting "The Waves at Matsushima." Sotatsu painted the image on a six-panel folding screen sometime in the early 17th century.

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