Katsushika Hokusai was a Japanese painter, printmaker, draughtsman and author of popular writings. His work is at the origin of Japonism which includes many European artists such as Gauguin, Van Gogh, Monet, Klimt or Auguste Renoir.
Hokusai was born of unknown parents on 31 October 1760 in Edo, the former name of Tokyo. At the age of 3 or 4, he was adopted by the craftsman in charge of making mirrors at the shogun's court. It was during this period that Hokusai developed an early interest in drawing and painting. After studying xylography, he joined Katsukawa Shunsho's workshop in 1778. There he made ukiyo-e prints and produced various drawings. After the death of his master, Hokusai left the workshop and experienced a period of abject poverty during which he continued to study new techniques. Dutch art and the study of perspective influenced his work. The Thirty-six Views of Mount Fuji(1831-1833) actually numbering 46 prints and The Great Wave of Kanagawa(1831), are his best known works.