"Susano-o no Mikoto " (03:36)
"Making a Pact with the Spirits of Disease" was a three meter painting destroyed by the 1923 Kanto Earthquake. In 2015, a project began recreating Katsushika Hokusai's masterpiece. It combined digital technology with traditional restoration techniques.
Hokusai Restoration Project (03:11)
The artist donated "Susano-o no Mikoto" to the Ushijima Shrine near Tokyo. The Sumida Hokusai Museum commissioned Yu Kinoshita to recreate the painting. Digital scanning reveals the sole remaining photograph is high quality; colors are expressed as shades of gray.
Identifying Colors (01:56)
Kinoshita photographs an existing screen in color and compares it to a black and white photograph by the same artist who shot "Susano-o no Mikoto." He correlates colors to their gray values and asks restoration expert Akira Yamauchi to recreate Hokusai's colors.
Recreating Hokusai's Colors (03:04)
Yamauchi smooths gradation for ease of computer reading, but Kinoshita needs natural brushstrokes imitating Hokusai's style. Finally, they reach an agreement and Yamauchi sends samples.
Color Mystery (03:47)
Some gray values could represent more than one color for a man’s robe in Hokusai's "Susano-o no Mikoto." Yamauchi eliminates vermillion based on pigment particle size; a smooth gradation suggests purple.
Finding Hokusai's Purple (04:47)
Hokusai used Prussian blue pigment in "Under the Wave off Kanagawa." Yamauchi believes he mixed it with lac dye wafer. After several attempts, he achieves a deep purple; Kinoshita adds it to a digital image of "Susano-o no Mikoto."
Hokusai's Life Work (05:38)
The Sumida Hokusai Art Museum recovered a landscape scroll depicting the Sumida River in Hokusai's neighborhood. Learn about the artist's career as described by biographer Iijima Kyoshin.
"Making a Pact with the Spirits of Disease" (05:01)
Hokusai created images for the common people, including a large scale portrait of Buddhist saint Bodhidharma at the Gokoku-ji temple. Professor Noriko Suzuki discusses Edo period diseases inspiring "Susano-o no Mikoto.” The Ushijima Shrine was believed to protect against smallpox.
Lines in Japanese Art (02:38)
Yamauchi's team attempts to recreate the lines of "Susano-o no Mikoto” from a photo. Early camera lenses softened focus around the edges; they must guess how Hokusai painted the original version.
Finishing Line Technique (02:18)
Yamauchi and Kinoshita inspect "Buddha's Disciple," a rare painting on which Hokusai overlaid dark lines for emphasis. Yamauchi believes he used the same method on "Susano-o no Mikoto.”
Expressing Vitality (02:04)
Electromyography sensors measure invisible muscle movements in a man imitating the subject's pose in "Buddha's Disciple." Experts believe Hokusai used finishing lines to bring life to the figure by suggesting internal movement.
Hokusai's Mastery (02:30)
"Hokusai's Temporary Home" by Tsuyuki Iitsu depicts the artist in old age. He considered everything painted before age 70 to be worthless, and aspired to paint like a god.
"Susano-o no Mikoto" in the Ushijima Shrine (03:17)
Art historian Kazutaka Higuchi advises Kinoshita to consider Hokusai's intention for hanging the painting high. Kinoshita brightens colors to counteract indoor shadows and adds gold leaf to the background.
"Susano-o no Mikoto" Recreated (04:36)
After two years, Kinoshita delivers Hokusai's restored work to the Sumida Hokusai Museum in October 2016. He and Yamauchi reflect on restoring color from a black and white photograph. Hokusai died at 90, feeling he had not yet mastered art.
Credits: The Lost Hokusai (00:33)
Credits: The Lost Hokusai
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