About the Works

Thunder God

Katsushika Hokusai

  • 「Thunder God」 Katsushika Hokusai

Facsimiles of works in the collection of the Freer Gallery of Art, Smithsonian Institution, Washington, D.C. : Gift of Charles Lang Freer, F1900.47.

These images are based on the high resolution facsimile produced by the Tsuzuri Project. Unauthorized copying, duplication, or transfer of these images is strictly prohibited.

Katsushika Hokusai
Historical era:
Edo (19th century)
printed on washi paper
hanging scroll
High Resolution Facsimile of Japanese Art Abroad
H126.9 × W53.8 cm
Sumida Ward
The Sumida Hokusai MuseumMAP
Current owner:
The Freer Gallery of Art of the Smithsonian Institution
ink, color on paper

Surrounded by a group of swirling dark clouds, the Thunder God is sounding his drum on his back. The two red flashes coming fast over his head and black splashes remind us of rough weather. The Thunder God has been familiar to the Japanese since ancient times. While many pictures of the Thunder God inspire affection, such as the Wind God and Thunder God Screens by Tawaraya Sotatsu, this work by Hokusai makes us recognize again that the deity was something to be feared. Although we know that he produced it at 88, he does not seem to have weakened at all. Rather than that, he makes us strongly sense his energy, which remained inexhaustible even in the last years of his life. The former owner of the painting, the Oriental fine art historian Ernest Fenollosa, highly praised this picture as the best of all the Japanese fine art works inspired by the Thunder God that he had ever seen.

About the Works