notes : the wave in art
H.D. Sporing : Breaking Wave, Matavai Bay,Tahiti, 1769.
Detail from Purea's canoe, Tahiti, 1769.
British Museum, Add. MS 23921-23a
Printed in Cook:Voyages (1991),
Volume 1, Figure 31, between pages 112-113.
This illustration of a breaking wave clearly shows the conical wave face that is integral to the dynamics of surfriding.
It is probable that Sporing was able to capture the wave contours so accurately because there was a consistent , if small, swell running down the beach.
The image was thus constructed from many similar waves breaking regularly while he completed the principal image of the canoe.
Katsushika Hokusai: Under the wave off Kanagawa c.1825?1831?
famous wood block
print by Katsushika
One of Thirty-six Views of Mt. Fuji, the image has been used numerous times in the surf media and by surfboard companies.
Depicting the drama of man against the sea, a turbulent foreground is centred and mirrored by a distant, and serene, Mt. Fiji.
Hokusai pioneered the Japanese use of occidental perspective, a notable feature of thos series.
His woodblocks were distinctive by their use of blue, a colour previously unavailable in Japan.
A powerful influence in Japan and Europe, Hokusai was participially important to the work of Claude Monet and Ando Hiroshige, see below.
Angry sea at Naruto, Awa province c.1830-31
Wood block print
Strongly influenced by Hokusai, Ando Hiroshige (1797-1858)
brilliantly captures the fluidity
and motion of waves and currents.
The work uses the newly available blue ink extensively and is notable
for the lack of human figures, it is strictly a seascape.
Waves also feature prominently in Hiroshige's
The Cave at Enoshima, 1832 (below)
The Procession of Women to the Benten
Temple on the Island of Enoshima. c.?[
The Sea of Setta, Suruga province c.1852- 53 (below).
Like Hokusai, Hiroshige was a important influence in Europe,
and was particularly admired by Claude Monet.
Ando Hiroshige: The Cave at Enoshima c.1832
Travellers enter the shine-grotto of
Enoshima Island as a huge wave
beats on the shore.
Wood block print
Hiroshige (1797-1858) :
The Sea of Setta,
Suruga province (Suruga Setta no Kaijo)
Format : Oban, Tate-e
From the series :
Thirty-six View of Mount Fuji (Fuji Sanju-Rokkei)
Published by Tsutaya Kichizo in 1858
The Great Wave breaking on the coast at Satta Point
with a flight of alarmed Chidori making their escape.
References for Japanese Art
Lane, Richard : Masters of the Japanese Print
Thames and Hudson, London, 1962, pages 205 - 296
Hajek, Lubor : Japanese Graphic Art,
Octopus Books, UK, 1976,
Édouard Riou: The Huge Wave, 1868.
A huge wave, forty feet high, overwhelmed the fugitives with a terrible roar.
Men and beasts, everything, disappeared in a whirlpool of foam.
A ponderous liquid mass engulfed them in its furious tide.
Probably influenced by early 19th century Japanese woodblocks, the illustration
appeared as plate 62 in Jules Verne's Les enfants du capitaine Grant,
published by Hetzel in 1867–1868, and published in
English as In Search of the Castaways.
A prolific illustrator, Riou contributed to many of Verne's works,
including his next novel, Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea.
He is also known for his, less than accurate, illustration
of surfing in Hawaii, Jeux Havaiens (Hawaiians playing), 1873.
Gustave Courbet: The Wave [Die Woge], 1869.
Jean Désiré Gustave Courbet (1819-1877) was a French painter who led the Realist movement in 19th-century French painting.
Committed to painting only what he could see, he rejected academic convention and the Romanticism of the previous generation of visual artists.
His independence set an example that was important to later artists, such as the Impressionists and the Cubists.
Courbet painted figurative compositions, landscapes, seascapes, and still lifes and was an innovator and as an artist willing to make bold social statements through his work.
Above: Gustave Courbet: The Waves, 1869.
Right: Gustave Courbet: The Wave, 1870.
Brett (1939 - 1992) :
Thebes' Revenge (1973 - 82)
Oil and collage on board, 203 x 122 cm
The seashore was an significant subject for Whitely, notably a large number
of paintings featuring Sydney Harbour from his 1970's residence in Lavender
Bay and Bondi Beach.
Strongly influenced by the dramatic brush work of van Gough, this work also
owes a debt to the favoured blue used in Japanese woodblocks.
- Pearce, Barry : Brett Whiteley - Art and Life, The Art Gallery of NSW, Sydney, 1995.
Garry Shead: The Wave (1992)
Shead, Garry (1942- ) : The Wave (1992)
Oil on canvas board, 91 x121 cm Private collection.
Lawrence, his wife Frieda, the cottage Wyewurk, the Norfolk pines and the rugged coastline feature in most of the series.
From The D.H. Lawrence Paintings, a series of works based on D.H. Lawrence's Australian novel Kangaroo (1922?) and his time writing the novel at Thirroul, NSW.
One of the other thematic symbols of the series, a large kangaroo, is absent from this work.
The Lawrence works were initially encouraged by Shead's contemporary, Brett Whitely, and in 1973 they produced a diptych Portrait of D.H. Lawrence. (see Grishin, page 51 below). Brett Whitley (see above) committed suicide at Thirroul in 1992.
The wave image is reminiscent of Hokusai's Under the Wave, Above.
William (19 ) :
Creation Landscape : Earth and Sea - detail. (1995)
Oil on Canvas, multi panelled, 183 x 730 cm - full image below.