The British Museum in London, which reopened to the public on August 27, has added 103 recently uncovered drawings by the Japanese painter and printmaker Katsushika Hokusai to its collection. The works, which resurfaced for the first time since 1948 in Paris last year, were created in 1829 for an unpublished book titled Great Picture Book of Everything.
The small-scale works were previously owned by Art Nouveau jeweler Henri Vever, and the museum said in a release that they had been held in a private collection in France before their reemergence in 2019 at Piasa auction house in Paris. The British Museum purchased the works with a grant from the national Art Fund in the United Kingdom.
Though they’re not currently on view inside the British Museum, the works in the acquisition can be viewed on the institution’s website. The museum plans to show the drawings, which depict detailed scenes from history, mythology, literature, religion, and the natural world, in a forthcoming free exhibition.
The acquisition brings the museum’s total number of works by Hokusai to over 1,000.
Hartwig Fischer, director of the British Museum, said in a statement that the purchase represents “another milestone in our collecting of Hokusai which has continued now for more than 150 years.”
Tim Clark, honorary research fellow, added in a release, “These works are a major new re-discovery, expanding considerably our knowledge of the artist’s activities at a key period in his life and work. All 103 pieces are treated with the customary fantasy, invention and brush skill found in Hokusai’s late works and it is wonderful that they can finally be enjoyed by the many lovers of his art worldwide.”