Great Wave by Katsushika Hokusai Sold for $2.8 Million

Great Wave de Katsushika Hokusai vendida por US$2,8 milhões

Who knew it was still possible to collect an iconic work of art for less than $3 million? Case in point: On Tuesday, Christie's in New York sold Katsushika Hokusai's "Under the Well of the Great Wave off Kanagawa" for $2.8 million -- a new record for a print of the picture.

Christie's estimated the 1830-32 woodcut to fetch between $500,000 and $700,000, but six bidders raised the bid in a battle that lasted 13 minutes. The telephone bidder, introduced by Christie's Vice President Tash Perrin, remains anonymous. Dealers said they might start looking among a younger generation of contemporary art collectors who have recently begun turning to prints, particularly well-known works that seem undervalued.
One of the most famous images in Asian art, the “Great Wave” ready to hit a trio of small boats with Mount Fuji in the distance has proved extremely popular since the artist created it at the age of 70 during the final years of isolationist Edo. , now Tokyo. Though intended to appeal to the common public in Japan who bought and traded such prints for small sums of money, Hokusai's "Big Wave" influenced rivals such as Utagawa Hiroshige and Utagawa Kuniyoshi, who soon attempted their own tsunami scenes, including the later "Monk Nichiren" from about 1835.

Hokusai's "Great Wave" ended up leaving Japan in isolation - probably as a sailor's souvenir - and made a huge impact among artists in Europe. Curators credit the “Big Wave” as inspiration for Claude Monet’s turbulent coastal seascapes, as well as Vincent’s “Starry Night.” Van Gogh, which replaced the wave itself in its composition with cloudy clouds illuminated by the moon. Claude Debussy's three symphonic sketches of 1905, "The Sea", also took Hokusai's work as their muse.

The "Big Wave" remains a staple of popular culture today, reproduced in everything from calendars to rugs and the cover of Gabrielle Zevin's current best-selling novel, "Tomorrow, and Tomorrow, and Tomorrow." On Tuesday, Google listed some 125 million search results for Leonardo da Vinci's "Mona Lisa"; the search engine recorded almost 1.4 billion hits for the “Big Wave”.

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