Mount Fuji at Dawn,
Ink on Paper
9 11/16 in. x 14 3/8 in. (24.61 cm x 36.51 cm)
Gift of Miss Lilian May Miller
Seal in upper left; label on verso: No. 693; "Hokusai, Toyko Coolie Boy in Japan, woodblock by Lilian Miller" all on verso of paper backing, in pencil.
Colored ink woodblock print on white paper, attached to brown paper backing.
Edo period color woodblock print with an image of Mount Fuji in pink and light blue tones.
Many artists had depicted Mt. Fuji before, but it was Hokusai who made the sacred dormant volcano into a worldwide symbol of ukiyo-e and of Japan. This splendid view of Fuji at dawn was produced with a minimum number of woodblocks: the shading effects are the result of wiping off a part of a color by hand before printing; the patterns on the mountain mirror the natural grain of the cherrywood itself. (Several alternative color schemes exist for this famous print. In many the colors are lighter, and there is even a state with the mountain in white and blue, rather than brown; there, only the upper strata of cirrocumulus clouds are visible, and a part of the ski is printed in brown.) Although he did not make use of the full resources of the complex, brocade-print technique, the artist has succeeded in producing a masterwork by reducing his design to its essentials, concentrating, so to speak, his whole art on this one print. We have accused Hokusai often of lacking discrimination; we see the full extent of the tragedy when faced with the perfection he achieved when he really tried. (Richard Lane, "Images from the Floating World, p. 164-165)
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