The Great Wave off Kanagawa, Hokusai 1830-1831
The sale of Hokusai's famous "Great Wave" print for $2.8 million at Christie's sets a new record. On Tuesday, a woodblock print by Katsushika Hokusai sold at Christie's in New York for $2.8 million. The print, which was only expected to sell for between $500,000 and $700,000, set a new record high price at the sale. The price went up because six bidders fought for the job for thirteen minutes. The winner was an unknown person who bid over the phone. The last time the print went up for auction, in 2021, it made ten times as much as its low estimate, which was $150,000. It brought in $1.6 million. Hokusai's most famous piece is the Great Wave off Kanagawa, a woodblock print made between 1830 and 1832. In it, people on a boat going to Tokyo face a tsunami, and Mount Fuji can be seen in the background.
The wave prints that Hokusai started making in the early 1800s are some of his most well-known works. They were put on the market in Europe around the middle of the 19th century. When the Great Wave print was first made, the artist was in his 70s and in need of money. Today, Japanese collectors are especially interested in the Great Wave. It's not clear how many copies of the print were made or how many are still around. The ones that are most valuable, though, are the early ones. Their lines are sharper because the woodblock that was used to make them hadn't worn down yet, and they also have a soft cloud outlined against a pink sky, like the one that just sold.