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: Boy Viewing Mount Fuji

Boy Viewing Mount Fuji

Hanging scroll
Artist: Katsushika Hokusai 葛飾北斎 (1760 - 1849)
Historical period(s)
Edo period, 1839
Ink and color on silk
H x W (image): 36.2 x 51.3 cm (14 1/4 x 20 3/16 in)
Credit Line
Gift of Charles Lang Freer
Freer Gallery of Art
Accession Number
Mount Fuji may be the most widely recognized symbol of Japan. The mountain and its name carry many meanings that are conveyed in Japanese by writing "Fuji" with different characters, such as a pair meaning "peerless." The highest mountain in Japan, Fuji's imminent power is contained in its seething volcanic core, hidden beneath its perennial cloak of snow. Regarded as sacred, Mount Fuji has been a site for religious pilgrimage, and ancient stories maintain that an elixir of immortality could be found at its peak. This painting frames the mountain in the bend of a willow that extends over a rushing stream. A young boy nestles in the tree, playing a flute while gazing at the mountain. This tranquil and engaging view of Fuji was one of hundreds produced by Hokusai during his lifetime. Here, at the age of nearly eighty, the artist gives visual form to his quest for long life by portraying a young boy in the thrall of the immortal mountain.

A prolific and technically proficient painter, Hokusai had a special sympathy for common people, whom he often depicted in his paintings, prints, and illustrations for printed books. Here he employs thin washes of color almost without outline to bring forth the familiar form of the great volcanic mountain.

To 1898
Ernest Francisco Fenollosa (1853-1908), Japan, to 1898 [1]

From 1898 to 1919
Charles Lang Freer (1854-1919), purchased from Ernest Francisco Fenollosa, through Edward S. Hull Jr., New York in 1898 [2]

From 1920
Freer Gallery of Art, gift of Charles Lang Freer in 1920 [3]


[1] See Original Kakemono List, L. 170, pg. 37, Freer Gallery of Art and Arthur M. Sackler Gallery Archives. Edward S. Hull Jr. was Ernest Francisco Fenollosa’s (1853-1908) lawyer. Hull often acted as an agent, facilitating purchases of objects consigned to him by Fenollosa, as well as purchases of objects consigned to him by Fenollosa's well-known associate, Bunshichi Kobayashi (see correspondence, Hull to Freer, 1898-1900, as well as invoices from E.S. Hull Jr., 1898-1900, Freer Gallery of Art and Arthur M. Sackler Gallery Archives). See also, Ingrid Larsen, "'Don’t Send Ming or Later Pictures': Charles Lang Freer and the First Major Collection of Chinese Painting in an American Museum," Ars Orientalis vol. 40 (2011), pgs. 15 and 34. See further, Thomas Lawton and Linda Merrill, Freer: A Legacy of Art, (Washington, D.C. and New York: Freer Gallery of Art and H. N. Abrams, 1993), pgs. 133-134.

[2] See note 1.

[3] The original deed of Charles Lang Freer's gift was signed in 1906. The collection was received in 1920 upon the completion of the Freer Gallery.

Former owner
Ernest Francisco Fenollosa (C.L. Freer source) (1853 - 1908)
Charles Lang Freer (1854-1919)
On View Location
Currently not on view
child, Edo period (1615 - 1868), Japan, kakemono, landscape, Mount Fuji, ukiyo-e
Collection(s) Area
Japanese Art
Web Resource(s)
Google Cultural Institute

Rights Statement
Copyright with museum

The Freer|Sackler is closed for renovation and reinstallation. The popular exhibition Turquoise Mountain: Artists Transforming Afghanistan is still on view in the International Gallery. (Enter through the Ripley Center.) Join us for our reopening celebration on October 14–15, 2017.