‘Rainstorm beneath the Summit’ is one of a trio of iconic and instantly recognisable masterpieces from Hokusai’s monumental series ‘Thirty-Six Views of Mount Fuji’ (Fugaku sanju-rokkei). The other two being...
‘Rainstorm beneath the Summit’ is one of a trio of iconic and instantly recognisable masterpieces from Hokusai’s monumental series ‘Thirty-Six Views of Mount Fuji’ (Fugaku sanju-rokkei). The other two being ‘Under the Wave off Kanagawa’ (‘The Great Wave’) and ‘Clear day with a Southern Breeze’ (‘Red Fuji’). At first glance, ‘Rainstorm beneath the Summit’ is compositionally similar to ‘Clear Day with a Southern Breeze’ (‘Red Fuji’), however details contrast significantly. The calm brightness of Mount Fuji on a summer's day as the morning sun rises in ‘Red Fuji’, gives way in ‘Rainstorm beneath the Summit’ to a dark moodiness as the same mountain is enveloped by a sudden thunderstorm around its lower slopes, the black clouds pierced for a moment by the jagged forks of a lightning bolt. The upper part of the mountain with its peak covered in a dusting of snow rises stoically above the restless clouds beneath.
Hokusai’s series ‘Thirty-Six Views of Mount Fuji’ began to be published by the important publishing house Eijudo (established by Nishimuraya Yohachi) in 1831, with the issuance of five initial designs, each printed entirely in shades of Prussian blue and traditional indigo. By 1833, a total of forty-six designs had been produced by Hokusai and published by Eijudo, completing the set. During these three years, and following the first five, they continued to be issued in groups, with increasing amounts of colours added. Although the series title clearly planned for there to be thirty-six views in the set, it proved so popular that an extra group of ten additional designs were added in 1833, resulting in a total coming of forty-six.
A previous owner of this print, Londoner Joseph Beck (1828-1891) formed the optical manufacturing firm of R & J Beck in 1843, based at 60 Mortimer Street, London. He was also instrumental in the preservation of Clissold Park, Stoke Newington’s last great open space for the public. He was an avid collector of Japanese works of art, buying at sales in London and America while on business trips. He would also meet ships in docks upon their return from Japan and bought directly from the captain and crew.
Other impressions of ‘Rainstorm beneath the Summit’ are in numerous museum collections, including: