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HOKUSAI Japanese Woodblock Print THE RED FUJI - MASTERPIECE 1830


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HOKUSAI Japanese Woodblock Print THE RED FUJI - MASTERPIECE 1830


The Red Fuji

from Thirty-Six Views of Mount Fuji

Date: original c. 1830-2, this is a early 20th century printing from re-carved wood blocks, published by Nishinomiya
Size: approx 15.5" x 10.5"
Condition: VG, minor flaws as shown, but overall an excellent printing of a Hokusai masterpiece
Impression: VG, good color and registration
Color: VG, deep saturated color and bleed through
Provenance: From the Robert O. Muller estate

The actual title of this print is "Clear Day with a Southern Breeze," but "The Red Fuji" is the name by which it is usually known, both in Japan and abroad.
FUJI OFTEN TAKES ON A REDDISH CAST IN THE EARLY MORINING AND LATE EVENING, but few are privileged to see it bright red as in Hokusai's picture. This color appears only under special climatic conditions, one of which is that there must be many small undulating clouds in the sky. The presence of these clouds in the print suggests that Hokusai himself actually saw the mountain in this fire-red state, possibly from the vicinity of Lake Yamanaka, where the phenomenon is known to have been witnessed. The location from which Hokusai sketched this Fuji, however, is uncertain, and it seems likely that he was drawing primarily from his mind's eye. The same design appears in "One Hundred Views of Mt. Fuji," but in black and white with the mountain occupying a relatively smaller part of the surface.

The mountain stands out sharply and clearly against a deep-blue sky that seems to extend to infinity. There is volume here, and a scope that refuses to be limited by the narrow dimensions of the printed surface. The woodblock print is not a medium that lends itself to the expression of sheer grandeur, but grandeur is what Hokusai has achieved there by a bold and skillful use of uncluttered lines and basic light and color values. The colors themselves are uncomplicated -- red, brown, blue, white and two shades of green, for the most part in solid patches with a minimum of shading. But these colors have been chosen and combined with an unerring eye for their weight and value with regard to each other and to the composition as a whole. Surely it was this daring, but sensitive use of bright colors in the best Japanese woodblock prints that commended them to the Western artists of the late nineteenth century.

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