Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Flowers of Hokusai

The Museum of Fine Arts Boston currently has a beautiful exhibition of the work of Katsushika Hokusai (1760-1849), the Japanese painter and printmaker most famous for the work known as "The Great Wave of Kanagawa" from his series "Thirty-six views of Mount Fuji". It is so iconic that there is even a smartphone emoji of it! Yet beside that maritime scene with its luscious dark blues and many lovely landscapes and quirky snapshots of city life, Hokusai also produced beautifully cheerful - and botanically clearly identifiable! - depictions of plant life. Here are just a few from the exhibit.

Assorted chrysanthemums

China roses (Rosa chinensis cv.) against a blue sky

Four o' clock or marvel of Peru (Mirabilis jalapa), just like I blogged about here and here

Japanese wisteria (Wisteria floribunda)

Magnolia liliiflora

Fringed iris (Iris japonica) and China pink (Dianthus chinensis)

Leopard or blackberry lily (Belamcanda chinensis), which I have posted about here

As you may have noticed, most of these prints also contain birds rendered in no less detail than the flowers. They come out of a Chinese tradition, adapted in Korea and Japan, known tellingly as "bird-and-flower painting". Someone more knowledgeable than me in ornithological matters would be able to identify the species of birds much like I identified the flowers. I, for my part, forgot to photograph the descriptive plaques along with the prints themselves and now have no idea what they are.


  1. I love Chinese and Japanese botanical artwork. Thanks for sharing!

  2. They are so beautiful! I really like it! Thanks for sharing!


Thanks for stopping by!