Hokusai may be the artist of six paintings hanging in a Dutch museum

Many see Hokusai as one of the world’s great masters, best known as a woodblock artist, his image depicting a giant blue tsunami wave has become iconic in Japan and recognised around the globe.

Dr Matthi Forrer, from the Sieboldhuis Museum in the town of Leiden in the Netherlands, said after years of quiet and painstaking detective work, he was sure the six paintings that had been thought to have been painted by a European artists, were actually by Hokusai.

“That was a really exciting moment when I came to realise that,” he said.

The story behind the paintings begins with Philip Franz von Siebold, a German doctor who was sent to the Dutch trading post in Nagasaki in 1823.

His job was to collect any information he could about the natural history of Japan.

election of flowers, stuffed animals, coins, kitchen items and 25 paintings collected from various artists in Japan, to show the Dutch what life was like in the far east.

Then in 2010 Dr Forrer and other researchers were asked to catalogue the collections of Japanese artworks that were held overseas.

Their travels took them to southern Germany, where a descendent of Dr Von Siebold lived in a castle called Burg Brandenstein.

Dr Forrer said it was there, as he made his way through the boxes and boxes containing more than 20,000 documents, that he made a significant discovery.

“Then I stumbled on a very early draft inventory of his [Dr von Siebold] collection of paintings and I could identify basically everything on that list,” he said.