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Feeling the rain in Eastern and Western works of art

by | Jul 24, 2021 | Maritime Art, Culture and History

Some people understandably don’t like rainy weather. Rains can snarl up traffic, restrict movement and put one in a surly mood. Worse, they may trigger floods and cause havoc all around. Yet, as the following artworks reveal, there is something beautiful and even marvellous about the rain.

Raindrops keep fallin’ on my head
But that doesn’t mean my eyes will soon be turnin’ red
Cryin’s not for me
‘Cause I’m never gonna stop the rain by complainin’
Because I’m free
Nothing’s worryin’
Me

— from the 1969 song ‘Raindrops Keep Fallin’ on My Head’ by B.J. Thomas

Spring Rain at Tsuchiyama (50th Station of the Tokaido), 1797–1858
Utagawa Hiroshige (Japanese, 1797–1858)
Woodblock print; ink and colour on paper
Courtesy of The Metropolitan Museum of Art

Ochanomizu in the Rain, mid-19th century
Utagawa Kuniyoshi (Japanese, 1797–1861)
Woodblock print; ink and colour on paper
Courtesy of The Metropolitan Museum of Art

Night Rain at the Azuma Shrine (from the series Eight Views of the Environs of Edo), mid-1830s
Utagawa Hiroshige (Japanese, 1797–1858)
Colour woodblock print
Courtesy of The Cleveland Museum of Art

Spring Rain by the Okawa River Bridge: The Ferry near the Stables, c. 1884
Kobayashi Kiyochika (Japan, 1847–1915)
Colour woodblock print
Courtesy of the Los Angeles County Museum of Art

Misty Rain on the River in Spring, Qing dynasty (1644–1911)
Wu Shixian (Chinese, ?–1916)
Folding fan mounted as an album leaf; ink on gold-flecked paper
Courtesy of The Metropolitan Museum of Art

Rain and Sunshine, Dordrecht, undated
Tina Blau (Austrian, 1845–1916)
Oil on panel
Courtesy of Dorotheum Online Auctions

Rain on Thames, c. 1913
Bertha E. Jaques (American, 1863–1941)
Etching
Courtesy of the Smithsonian American Art Museum

Rainstorm over the Sea, 1824–1828
John Constable (English, 1776–1837) 
Oil on paper
Courtesy of WikiArt: Visual Art Encyclopedia

The Sea—Studies of Waves: Wave in the Rain, 1890
Henri Rivière (French, 1864–1951)
Colour woodcut
Courtesy of The Cleveland Museum of Art

The Manneport, Etretat in the Rain, 1886
Claude Monet (French, 1840–1926)
Oil on canvas
Courtesy of WikiArt: Visual Art Encyclopedia

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