Here, caught in a sudden downpour, people rush along the steep hillside. Bamboo bends under the force of wind and rain, and the people in the foreground mimic this downward motion in order to shield their eyes from the water streaming upon them in torrents. Masterfully depicted, the viewer can almost feel the bullets of rain, and sense of sympathy for these unfortunate travelers.
Shono is a 2.5 mile stretch of mountain path along the suzuka river. In legend, hero Yamato Takeru is fabled to have turned into a white swan somewhere along this stretch.
In this scene, the palaquin bearers scramble against the hill and torrential rain. Villagers bow their heads and straw hats and umbrellas into the wind to shield them from the sudden rain. Legs are raised upwards to show effort and speed as the people race to get out of the rain. Int he background the bamboo bend under the downpour, and the intensity of the rain gradually obscures them from our view.
The roaring success of the Hôeidô Tôkaidô series of woodblock prints firmly established Andô Hiroshige’s reputation as a master of his craft. Hiroshige had received attention for his previous publication of “Famous Places in the Eastern Capital,” but it was these 53 images along the Tokaidô Road that brought Hiroshige massive fame.
Travel guides and souvenirs from famous places and destinations were already on the market, and it was from some of these guides that Hiroshige often based his images. Some speculate that the mass appeal of the Hôeidô Tôkaidô series is due to the feeling, by viewing this images, that one is able to journey the famous road from Kyoto to the capital city of Edo without having to set foot on steep mountain paths or face inclement weather.
Inclement weather, however, is a phenomenon that Hiroshige excels at depicting. Here, caught in a sudden downpour, people rush along the steep hillside. Bamboo bends under the force of wind and rain, and the people in the foreground mimic this downward motion in order to shield their eyes from the water streaming upon them in torrents. Masterfully depicted, the viewer can almost feel the bullets of rain, and sense of sympathy for these unfortunate travelers.
Signed and dated on the plate, l.r.: Whistler / 1861. Inscribed on verso, in pencil, l.l.: The Storm. W.77. "A scarce drypoint" Wedmore Inscribed in pencil on verso, l.r.: Rawlinson collection Collection (no mark): W.G. Rawlinson
A stormy and blustery landscape dominates the scene; at the lower left corner, a man with a moustache leans into the wind, clutching his coat in front of him with his right hand and holding his hat in place with his left hand. The landscape is flat and largely open; small groups of trees are visible in the distance and dark lines in the sky represent clouds and squall lines. In the center of the image are faint diagonal lines "cancelling" the plate.
Whistler's friend and fellow artist, Mathew White Ridley, served as the model for the man in this image. The low horizon line and wide proportion of the plate suggest that Whistler had Rembrandt's landscape etchings in mind when he drew this plate.
This image is quite rare: there are only four impressions taken from the plate prior to the cancellation lines and the richness of the drypoint in this impression indicates that it was also a very early impression.