Katsushika Hokusai (1760–May 10, 1849), born in Edo (modern-day Tokyo) was the most famous master painter of fine art and Ukiyo-e woodblock prints during the Edo period’s Tokugawa Shogunate. He began painting at six and apprenticed to a master woodcarver at the age of 14 before moving on to ukiyo printmaker Katsukawa Shunsho at the age of 18. During the 1790s he would be married twice and have five children.
Between 1820-1940 he completed his greatest works including the Hokusai Manga (1814-1834) paintings and drawings as well as a series of woodblock prints which inspired Japonism of the late 19th Century Europe and influenced Impressionism and Post-Impressionism. The Great Wave off the Coast of Kanagawa (1830-2) in the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York collection is world renowned example of poster art.
As was common practice at the time, Hokusai changed his name often and his name changes coincided with his different artistic periods. He published his first set of prints under the name Shunrō.
Hokusai became Tawaraya Sōri during his association with the Tawaraya School around 1795 and began to explore copper engraving as well as the Dutch and French Baroque style. This period also marked his shift in subject matter from Kabuki and courtesans to landscapes and daily social life genre which became a breakthrough for Hokusai and the ukiyo-e style. It was during this period that he became most famous. He attended the Tokyo festival in 1804 and created a 600 ft of Daruma, Buddhist priest. He also won a competition at the court of the Shogun Iyenari.
In 1811, he became Taito which marked his shift to creating art manuals until he became Iitsu in 1820 and developed 36 Views of Mount Fuji, his most famous work. In 1839 fire destroyed many of his works and his studio but he continued to produce works until his death in 1849.