Rainstorm Beneath the Summit

  • Title(s): Rainstorm Beneath the Summit; Thunderstorm Beneath the Summit; Shower Below the Summit (Sanka hakuu), from the series Thirty-six Views of Mount Fuji (Fugaku sanjurokkei)
  • Creator: Katsushika Hokusai (Japanese, 1760–1849)
  • Date: About 1830-32
  • Period: Edo period (1615–1868), Ukiyo-e
  • Location: Japan
  • Culture: Japanese, 19th Century
  • Medium: Polychrome woodblock print; ink and color on paper, Oban format
  • Physical Dimensions: 25.7 × 37.6 cm (10 1/8 × 14 9/16 in.)
  • Repository: The Art Institute of Chicago, Chicago, IL

Like the others in this exhibition, this piece is a part of Hokusai’s series “Thirty-six Views of Mount Fuji,” though, of this small collection of images, this one depicts the mountain in the most detail and glory. In this print, Hokusai has created a blue ombre clear sky rimmed with fluffy, white, cumulonimbus clouds that occupy the upper half of the background and meet just the tops and edges of some forest-covered foothills. In the foreground, a dark, misty rainstorm blankets the lower half of the piece and is disrupted only by a striking flash of orange lightning. These choices create a dramatic contrast between the print’s upper and lower halves, as well as the background and foreground. Then, in the midground, the massive base, ridged slope, and snowy peak of Mount Fuji rises from the thundering mist and sits in the golden ratio of the bright sky. In a later variation, the flash of lightning illuminates the tops of tall trees in a misty forest at the base of the mountain and includes a few other color changes that make the piece seem much lighter and almost faded overall. Nevertheless, both versions portray Hokusai’s deep respect and reverence for the mountain, as does the entire forty-six-piece collection. Specifically, with this print, Hokusai exemplifies Mount Fuji’s physical and spiritual prominence both in size and strength, as it ascends high, unfaltering, above the violent storm.




Author: Alexa Booker

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