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The Great Wave off Kanagawa, 1831 by Katsushika Hokusai

At sea, a huge wave topped with foam is on the point of breaking. The small boats seem to be allowing themselves to be carried forward by the angry flood, passive before the waters bearing down on them. Hokusai depicts the scene as though he were in a similar kind of boat, gazing up at both the wave and Mt. Fuji from below. The work is a masterpiece in its stunning evocation of the majesty and violence of nature.

It took even a Hokusai many years to bring his original concept to full fruition. Little need be said of a print whose boldness and originality of composition and color are still as much in evidence as ever today, more than a century after it first astonished artists in nineteenth-century Europe and America. Hokusai's wood-block prints had big influence on western artists such as Manet, Renoir Claude Monet, followed by Van Gogh.