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When The Days Get Too Sunny…


When The Days Get Too Sunny…

… it’s time for the umbrellas! Check out these 5 beautiful pieces of art that feature rain (and umbrellas occasionally).

1. Gustave Caillebotte, Paris Street, Rainy Day, 1877

paris street

Gustave Caillebotte, Paris Street, Rainy Day, 1877, Art Institute of Chicago

This is probably the most famous work of Caillebotte. He depicted a street, newly enlarged under the Haussmann’s remodernization of Paris, which would become filled with flâneurs and flâneuses that is the observers of modern life. Caillebotte’s symmetrical and extremely detailed technique made the street look almost choreographed, as if everything there was synchronized and uniformed, creating the atmosphere of anonymity.

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2. Jeff Wall, A Sudden Gust of Wind (after Hokusai), 1993

A Sudden Gust of Wind

Jeff Wall, A Sudden Gust of Wind (after Hokusai), 1993, Tate Gallery, London

Jeff Wall’s photograph is staged to remind us of Hokusai’s beautiful woodblock print Yejiri Station, Province of Surug. Wall called it a ‘cinematographic photograph’ because he used actors, props, and special effects in order to achieve the wanted result. It took him over a year to produce this stunning recreation of a Japanese scene in British Columbia.

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3. Childe Hassam, Rainy Day, Boston, 1885


Childe Hassam, Rainy Day, Boston, 1885, Toledo Museum of Art in Ohio

Childe Hassam was, together with Mary Cassatt and John Henry Twatchman, a main representative of the American Impressionism. In mid 1880’s he began painting cityscapes of his native city of Boston, despite the critics’ opinion that his works were ‘very pleasant but not art’. Soon after, he moved to Paris with his wife where he saw many Impressionist works, yet he didn’t meet any of the artists himself. However, I can see quite a few similarities to Caillebotte’s Paris street in here, can you?)

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4. Utagawa Kuniyoshi, Nichiren Praying for Rain at Ryôzengasaki in Kamakura in 1271

woodblock print

Utagawa Kuniyoshi, Nichiren Praying for Rain at Ryôzengasaki in Kamakura in 1271, John J. Burns Library, Boston College

The most recognized woodblock prints were produced in Edo, Japan between the 17th and 18th centuries. Utagawa, together with Hokusai, was one of the most sold print makers. When in 1853 Japan opened for the international trade, Europe fell for many Japanese products, including the prints. The Impressionists loved them and Vincent van Gogh amassed quite a big collection for himself. He was also the one to coin the term japonaiserie which describes the style inspired by Japanese motifs and subjects.

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5. Van Gogh, Rain or Enclosed Wheat Field in the Rain, 1889


Van Gogh, Rain or Enclosed Wheat Field in the Rain, 1889, Philadelphia Museum of Art, Philadelphia

When Vincent was staying in a clinic of Saint-Paul-de-Mausolée in southern France, the view from his workroom was on a field of wheat, which Van Gogh would paint over twelve times. The rain scene, however, is the only of its kind and the diagonal lines representing rainfall refer closely to the Japanese prints which considerably influenced Vincent’s style.

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Magda, art historian and Italianist, she writes about art because she cannot make it herself. She loves committed and political artists like Ai Weiwei or the Futurists; like Joseph Beuys she believes that art can change us and we can change the world.


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