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Daily Art Moment: Katsushika Hokusai

“Last summer I hiked to Ramona Falls in Mt. Hood National Forest for the first time—and immediately thought of this print. Water cascades down the rocks, forking into powerful branches before spilling out in a fine, ethereal spray. Below, pilgrims on their way to nearby shrines at Nikkō stand transfixed. At right, two figures climb the steep slope for a better look at nature’s brilliance. This is one of Katsushika Hokusai’s most extraordinary print designs. It comes from an ingenious series issued in 1833–34 of famous waterfalls throughout Japan. It was made at a time when travel was becoming increasingly accessible and landscape—especially ‘famous places’ (meisho)—were a popular subject in woodblock prints. Hokusai’s waterfall prints followed the success of his celebrated #ThirtysixViewsofMountFuji, published two years before. Hokusai was in his seventies at the time.”

—Jeannie Kenmotsu, Japan Foundation Associate Curator of Japanese Art & Interim Head of Asian Art

Katsushika Hokusai (Japanese, 1760–1849). Falling Mist Waterfall at Mount Kurokami in Shimotsuke Province, from the series A Tour of Waterfalls in Various Provinces, 1832/1833. Color woodblock print on paper. The Mary Andrews Ladd Collection, 32.441