Artist: Katsushika Hokusai
Title: Thunderstorm Beneath the Summit
Date: 1830 - 1834 c.
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Thunderstorm Beneath the Summit represents one of the few perfect compositions in the Mount Fuji series. Together with Under the Wave Off Kanagawa (cat. 6) and Mount Fuji at Dawn (cat. 7), it forms a trio of masterpieces. These images symbolically express the power of nature in simple designs; by doing so, they make us contemplate the relationship of man to the natural world. The print depicts Mount Fuji in its simplest form. Basically similar in design to Mount Fuji at Dawn, the mountain’s volcanic cone rises starkly, an undulating line describing its left flank. The background consists only of blue sky and ranks of clouds rising from behind the mountain at the midpoint of both its flanks. Nothing in this image foretells the variable weather at higher altitudes. Here we observe that the air around the slopes below the summit has darkened where lightning flashes in zigzag patterns, and we imagine the roll of thunder. Unaffected, Fuji stands in unbreachable serenity. Masterpieces like this one profoundly influence Western artists, particularly the Impressionists of the second half of the nineteenth century. Such works came to be regarded as containing the essence of Japan. (The Asian Art Museum of San Francisco, HOKUSAI AND HIROSHIGE – Great Japanese Prints from the James A. Michener Collection, Honolulu Academy of Arts: The Asian Art Museum of San Francisco, 1998 Page 57. Cat. 8 ) - - - - - - - - - - - -