Through his elegant brush paintings and masterful woodblocks, Katsushika Hokusai (1760-1849) became one of Japan’s most internationally-renowned artists. A master of ukiyo-e art, he single-handedly transformed the art form from a simple style focused on courtesans and famous actors into a grander style depicting the beauty of nature seen through landscapes and wildlife. His style of art and subject evolved as many times as he changed his name, but Hokusai’s talent as an artist remained constant and his influential role in later art movements such as Art Nouveau and Impressionism remains eternal.
Friend of Émile Zola, Gustave Flaubert, and Alphonse Daudet, Edmond de Goncourt was a French writer belonging to the Naturalist movement. Eyewitness to the events of the worldly and artistic life of the second half of the 19th century, his major work remains the Journal written with his brother, Jules. Beginning in 1850, they collaborated on history books, most notably treating painting, such as Eighteenth Century Art. Impassioned by the delicate beauty of the Japanese woodblock prints, Edmond de Goncourt became, through his monographs on Utamaro and Hokusai, one of the first to reveal the magnificence of this art to the Western world.
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