The print on the left has no signature or title within the design as is common with Japanese woodblock prints. It has been attributed to Katsushika Hokusai (1760-1849), whose career spanned sixty years, producing more than 30,000 prints. He was not only a master of Ukiyo-e (pictures of the floating world), but actively studied Chinese and Western techniques, in the last years of the Edo period.
The image is of an Ama, or fisher-woman who specialized in diving for abalone (awabi). I have not been able to find this work in any of the several dozens of volumes on Hokusai in Marquand Art library, nor was it included in the Smithsonian’s extensive retrospective of the artist’s prints and books. Their website is a wonderful source of biographical and stylistic information: http://www.asia.si.edu/exhibitions/online/hokusai/launch.htm. If anyone has information we would be interested in hearing from you.
Hokusai, a child prodigy, is best-known for a series of views of Mount Fuji, including 46 unique scenes at different times of day and seasons of the year. Both Hokusai’s Ama and selections of the Mt. Fuji series will be on view in our gallery next year when we exhibit the Gillett Griffin collection of Japanese prints on deposit in the Graphic Arts division, Rare Books and Special Collections, Princeton University.