Hokusai’s The Mansion of the Plates

Summary of Essay

This essay discusses the artist Katsushika Hokusai, and his renowned skill as a Ukiyo-e style woodblock-print artist. This essay focuses particularly on his work The Mansion of the Plates from the series One Hundred Ghost Tales. The print portrays the tragic tale of Okiku, a maid-servant killed by her employer, a samurai named Aoyama Tessan. The analysis delves into the visual elements of the print, emphasizing the composition, use of color, and stylistic features that characterize Hokusai’s artistic approach. It also provides context on the popularity of ghost stories, known as Kaidan, during the Edo period and highlights the cultural significance of Hokusai’s work in this context. The narrative of Okiku and her fate is explored, comparing Hokusai’s representation with other works in the same theme.

image of Hokusai's Mansion of the plates. Woman coming out of well, tailed by 8 plates.
Katsushika Hokusai, Mansion of the Plates, 1831-1832, Woodblock Print. Image from Minneapolis Institute of Art.

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