Katsushika Hokusai was born in 1760. A prodigy child, he started an apprenticeship at a woodcut workshop at the age of fifteen. When he was eighteen, he came under the tutelage of Katsukawa Shunsho and took the name of Katsukawa Shunro. Hokusai’s early prints were mostly actor portraits, produced under the influence of Shunsho. For fourteen years, Hokusai remained connected with the art school of Shunsho. During the same time, he also took lessons from another master, Yusen- from the Kano school. With Yusen, he studied Western-style paintings, evident in the use of perspective in various Hokusai prints. After Shunsho’s death in 1792, Hokusai was expelled from the Katsukawa Art School, possibly as a result of receiving guidance from different schools.
According to his own biography, which he penned at the age of 73, Hokusai moved an astonishing 93 times in his life, a testament to his self-professed restlessness. To the distress of many art historians and experts, he also changed his artist name several times.
Hokusai’s series, “36 Views of Mt. Fuji”, is his best-known work and some critics also regard it as his finest. The series actually consists of 46 designs, all of which Hokusai worked on for ten years before the series was published in 1830. He also produced a landscape series called, “A Journey To the Waterfalls of all the Provinces”. After 1814, Hokusai published a series of fifteen sketchbooks, containing illustrations and sketches of a wide variety of subjects, some comic, some serious. Hokusai lived for producing ukiyo-e prints, commonly working from early in the morning until after sunset. Hokusai died in 1849, leaving a legacy of over 30,000 print designs.