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You Can Now Explore 103 ‘Lost’ Hokusai Drawings Online

Smithsonian – “Earlier this month, the British Museum announced its acquisition of a trove of newly rediscovered drawings by Japanese artist Katsushika Hokusai, who is best known for 19th-century masterpiece The Great Wave Off Kanagawa. Visitors can’t yet see the illustrations in person, but as the London institution notes in a statement, all 103 works are now available to explore online. In 1829—around the same time Hokusai created The Great Wave—the artist crafted a series of small drawings intended for publication in a book titled Great Picture Book of Everything, reports Gareth Harris for the Art Newspaper. But the book was never published, and after Hokusai died in 1849, the drawings came into the possession of Art Nouveau jeweler Henri Vever. Five years after Vever’s death in 1943, a collector bought the artworks, opting to keep them out of public view for the next seven decades. The sketches only resurfaced last June, when the British Museum purchased them with support from the Art Fund charity. Per Atlas Obscura’s Claire Voon, producing the picture book as planned would have destroyed the drawings. To create such texts, professional wood cutters and printers pasted illustrations onto woodblocks and used them as stencils for carving a final image. Historians don’t know why the book was never published, but its failure to come to fruition actually ensured the illustrations’ survival…”

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