Katsushika Hokusai was a Japanese artist, ukiyo-e painter and printmaker, best known for his Thirty-six Views of Mount Fuji.
Hokusai began painting at the age of six, but did not officially study it until he was eighteen. He apprenticed and studied at a variety of studios, eventually developing his own style of ukiyo-e that focused on the daily lives of Japanese people and the landscapes surrounding them. This represented a shift in the ukiyo-e style, which had previously depicted courtesans and actors.
By 1800, Hokusai was fairly well-known in Japan, teaching his own students, publishing collections of landscapes, and collaborating with authors to create illustrated books. It was not until the 1820s, however, that Hokusai achieved his peak of artistic fame within Japan, with the publication of Thirty-six Views of Mount Fuji, including his most famous print, Great Wave off Kanagawa.
In the 1830s, Hokusai followed up this incredibly popular collection with One Hundred Views of Mount Fuji, another significant series of landscapes. About this work, he wrote: "From around the age of six, I had the habit of sketching from life. I became an artist, and from fifty on began producing works that won some reputation, but nothing I did before the age of seventy was worthy of attention. At seventy-three, I began to grasp the structures of birds and beasts, insects and fish, and of the way plants grow. If I go on trying, I will surely understand them still better by the time I am eighty-six, so that by ninety I will have penetrated to their essential nature. At one hundred, I may well have a positively divine understanding of them, while at one hundred and thirty, forty, or more I will have reached the stage where every dot and every stroke I paint will be alive. May Heaven, that grants long life, give me the chance to prove that this is no lie."
He continued painting until his death in 1849, constantly seeking to produce better work.