Hokusai: The Great Picture Book of Everything, at the British Museum
The Great Picture Book of Everything was intended to be a pictorial encyclopaedia of life and nature in China and India. Because Japan was isolated from the world until 1859, Hokusai had not actually travelled to India, and so he used previous books of this type to draw some of the animals and the imagined origins of Buddhism.
Normally when Hokusai’s drawings were transferred to woodblocks for printing, they are cut though by the engraver. Therefore the set of drawings in the exhibition survived by not being published, although it is unknown why.
I have been a Hokusai fan for years and my favourite drawings are those of plants and landscapes. He said in 1834:
By the age of seventy three, I had acquired some some understanding of the structure of birds, animals, insects and fish...maybe when I am into my hundred-and-tens, each dot and each brushstroke will seem to have a life of its own.
Our upcoming Japonisme collection of cushion covers celebrates many of the traditional motifs found in Japanese art.
Until next time creative crew,