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Seattle Art Museum (SAM)

In the Well of the Wave off Kanagawa, from the series Thirty-six Views of Mount Fuji

Photo: Colleen Kollar Zorn

In the Well of the Wave off Kanagawa, from the series Thirty-six Views of Mount Fuji


Katsushika Hokusai

Japanese, 1760 - 1849

This particular Japanese print has been on the move and experienced more shifts in valuation than perhaps any other object on view in these galleries. Made in Japan for the urban masses and sold for the price of a bowl of noodles, this Hokusai landscape captured the attention of Western artists and collectors and influenced the course of Western art history. It has since become a pop cultural icon, as reproductions of the so-called “Great Wave” have appeared on coffee mugs, T-shirts and desk calendars. Its ubiquity, not unlike that of the Mona Lisa, has had a curious effect on its value. Mass reproduction has cheapened its “aura,” yet the drive to see the original (or in this case, an early impression) is all the greater for its proliferation.
Woodblock print: ink and color on paper
10 3/16 x 14 15/16 in. (25.9 x 37.9cm)
Gift of Mary and Allan Kollar, in honor of the 75th Anniversary of the Seattle Art Museum
Photo: Colleen Kollar Zorn
Not currently on view


Exhibition HistorySeattle, Washington, Seattle Art Museum, Luminous: The Art of Asia, Oct. 13, 2011 - Jan. 8, 2012.
Published ReferencesIshikawa, Chiyo, ed. A Community of Collectors: 75th Anniversary Gifts to the Seattle Art Museum. Seattle, Washington: Seattle Art Museum, 2007; reproduced p. 6.

Shirahara, Yukiko. "Ukiyo-e: The Aesthetics of Pleasure." In A Community of Collectors, Seattle, Washington: Seattle Art Museum, 2008; p. 172, no. 147, reproduced.

Roche, Catherine. Fleeting Beauty: Japanese Woodblock Prints. Exh. Cat. Seattle, Washington: Seattle Art Museum, 2010; p. 65, no. 42, reproduced.

Junker, Patricia. Albert Bierstadt, Puget Sound on the Pacific Coast: A Superb Vision of Dreamland, in association with Beauty and Bounty: American Art in the Age of Exploration. Seattle, Washington: Seattle Art Museum in association with University of Washington Press, 2011; pp. 55, 57, reproduced fig. 3.16 [not in exhibition].

Seattle Art Museum acknowledges that we are on the traditional homelands of the Duwamish and the customary territories of the Suquamish and Muckleshoot Peoples. As a cultural and educational institution, we honor our ongoing connection to these communities past, present, and future. We also acknowledge the urban Native peoples from many Nations who call Seattle their home.

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