The Hokusai ‘brand’ in book illustration was the product of astute marketing, wilful misrepresentation, blatant plagiarism and great art. Titles illustrated by Katsushika Hokusai (1760–1849) such as Hokusai manga and Fugaku hyakkei were the hottest property in art book publishing in 19th-century Japan. Hokusai also illustrated novels, poetry anthologies and educational texts. Some publishers even reissued books illustrated by his pupils in his name. No other Japanese artist produced as rich, varied and powerful a corpus of images for reproduction in book format as Hokusai. The books of few other Japanese artists were disseminated as widely as his. Art books assumed a major role in the formation of Hokusai’s reputation in his lifetime; posthumously they played a significant role in his recognition and appreciation abroad. His book illustrations attracted notice in Europe and North America well before his colour woodblock prints or paintings. After the latter became more widely known, interest in his books did not abate. It is, therefore, appropriate to characterise the Hokusai oeuvre in book form as a highly marketable brand, one that has been eagerly consumed by a global audience.
Ellis Tinios taught East Asian History at the University of Leeds. He has participated in research projects at the School of Oriental & African Studies, Cambridge University, the British Museum and the Art Research Center at Ritsumeikan University. He has taught courses on the book in early modern Japan in the USA under auspices of the Rare Book School. His research has encompassed the materiality of the book, erotic books, and books illustrated by Maruyama-Shijō artists, and Hokusai’s books.
This hybrid lecture will be held on site (email required in advance) and via Zoom (meeting ID: 848 7771 2839).
The meeting link will remain posted on the ISEAS website top page from November 20.