I’ve had a print of the Great Wave off Kanagawa hanging in my house for a few years now. I think we printed it from one of those random picture frame stores. I was fortunate to see one of the impressions during a visit to the Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA).
Well, the first impression was, I thought it would be larger. The second impression was trying to figure out if this was an original. After doing a little more research, the print at LACMA is one of early impressions.
Woodblock printing is exactly what it sounds like. Artists carve out their art onto wood then transfer it onto fabric or paper. The problem is that as the block degrades over time from use. The Hokusai block was used at least 5,000 times and the work displayed in LACMA is very detailed.
Katsuchika Hokusai was born in 1780. He was a ukiyo-e painter (painting on wood blocks). I’d go on but there’s always Wikipedia (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hokusai).