- Museum number
Object: Gaifu kaisei 凱風快晴 (Clear Day with a Southern Breeze)
Object: Red Fuji
Series: Fugaku sanjurokkei 冨嶽三十六景 (Thirty-six Views of Mt. Fuji)
Colour woodblock oban print. View of Mt Fuji in clear weather with clouds: Hovering clouds of mackerel sky parting to form halo around summit veined with sparse remnants of snow; lower regions still in shadow and only bare slopes above tree-line catching sun. Inscribed and signed.
- Production date
- 1831 (probably late 1831 (Keyes and Morse 2015))
Height: 40.60 centimetres (Mount)
Height: 26.10 centimetres (Print)
Width: 56 centimetres (Mount)
Width: 38.20 centimetres (Print)
- Curator's comments
One of the greatest images from Hokusai's monumental series Thirty-six Views of Mount Fuji', in which he used Prussian blue extensively for the first time in the history of the Japanese print and established landscape as a major new print genre. This design is often known in English as 'Fuji in Clear Weather' and in Japan as Akafuji ('Red Fuji'). The signature is 'Brushed by Hokusai, changing his name to Iitsu'.
When conditions are right in late summer or early autumn, with a wind from the south and a clear sky, the slopes of Fuji can be dyed red by the rays of the rising sun - or so it is said and so the title implies. The 'bunjin' (literati) painter Noro Kaiseki (1747-1828) certainly witnessed a similar phenomenon during a journey to Edo (in either 1799 or 1801), but this was in the second month, the middle of spring (Kano Hiroyuki, 'E wa kataru, vol. 14: Gaifu kaisei', Tokyo, Heibonsha, 1994, pp. 64-5).
This is the most abstracted composition and yet the most meteorologically specific of all the 'Thirty-Six Views'. Delicately hovering clouds of a mackerel sky part to form a halo around a summit veined with sparse remnants of snow, the shape of the mountain exaggeratedly attenuated towards the top of the page. The lower regions are still in shadow and it is only the bare slopes above the tree-line that catch the sun, turning (in this impression) a bright, brick red. The three shades of blue in the sky seem like a mirror-reversal of the three colours on the mountain.
Perhaps because it is such an apparently simple - though dramatically conceived - design, variations in the colouration and gradation of the mountain and sky between impression and impression evoke considerably different moods. Nagata (1990) illustrates four variants together, including a later printing with black-line title and signature that has a startling band of wiped Berlin blue down the inside of each slope - no red at all (Nagata 1990, vol. 2, nos 24-7). An early impression in the MOA Museum of Art, Atami, has pinkish slopes and a very pale blue sky, with gradation between some clouds (MOA 1982, no. 1). The pale green encroaches further up the mountain than in other cases and is wiped into a pronounced curve where it changes to pink. The grey summit is wiped at an angle, so that grey and green almost meet halfway up the left slope. A white 'flaw' in the green block is always found at the bottom, perpendicularly beneath the summit. In the MOA impression this looks to have been painted over.
'Ukiyo-e taikei, vol. 13: Fugaku sanju-rokkei', Tokyo, Shueisha, 1975 (text by Kobayashi Tadashi), no. 2.
'Meihin soroimono ukiyo-e, vol. 8: Hokusai I', Tokyo, Gyosei, 1991 (text by Nagata Seiji), no. 33.
Julia White, 'et al.', 'Hokusai and Hiroshige: Great Japanese Prints from the James A. Michener Collection, Honolulu Academy of Arts', Asian Art Museum of San Francisco, 1998 (commentaries by Yoko Woodson), no. 7.
Binyon, Laurence. 'A Catalogue of Japanese and Chinese Woodcuts in the British Museum'. London, British Museum, 1916, [Hokusai] no. 97.
'Ukiyo-e shuka, vol. 11: Daiei Hakubutsukan'. Tokyo, Shogakkan, 1979, no. 66 (commentary by Narazaki Muneshige).
Smith, Lawrence. 'Twelve Views of Mount Fuji'. London, Trustees of the British Museum, 1981, [no. 7].
Ueno no Mori Bijutsukan, eds. 'Daiei Hakubutsukan shozo ukiyo-e meisaku ten'. Tokyo, 1985, no. 172.
Smith, Lawrence. 'Ukiyo-e: Images of Unknown Japan'. London, British Museum Press, 1988, no. 172.
Forrer, Matthi. 'Hokusai: Prints and Drawings'. London, Royal Academy of Arts, 1991, no. 12.
This may seem the most abstracted and monumental of Hokusai’s many depictions of Mt Fuji, yet the effects the artist sought were quite specific (Keyes 2008). ‘Southern breeze’ is a phenomenon associated with late summer, when there is only a modicum of snow left around the summit of Fuji. In the earliest impressions the mountain is printed a delicate pinkish-brown with a large expanse of green at the foot (cat. 52). We are looking at the eastern side of the mountain, just as the first rays of the sun, rising over the Pacific Ocean, strike the upper slopes and turn the black and grey ash a soft pink. The boundary of the light-struck area arcs because the mountain is a cone. This arc is lower at the right than the left, since the sun in summer rises north of east and therefore strikes the slopes at an oblique angle. The high altocumulus clouds of a ‘mackerel sky’ (sometimes called ‘sardine clouds’, iwashigumo) dapple the morning sky and drift northwards, like a slow-moving shoal of fish. Surely instructed by the artist and the publisher, the printer purposely inked the pale blue sky block unevenly. This makes the morning sky look bright and the clouds seem to move. The printer also silhouetted just the mountain peak with a darker shade of blue, which brings the mountain forward. The print came to be known in modern times as ‘Red Fuji’ because a dark reddish-brown was commonly used for later impressions (cat. 53), combined with a darker blue sky. Many of the earlier special printing effects were simplified in later impressions; for example, the gradation between the reddish-brown and green on the mountain’s slope became a straight diagonal – much quicker and easier for the printer.
- Not on display
- Exhibition history
2001 11 May-29 Jul, London, BM, Japanese Galleries, '100 Views of Mount Fuji'
2007 13 Jun-7 Oct, London, BM, Japanese Galleries, 'Japan from Prehistory to the Present'
2011 Nov - 2012 Jan, London, BM, Asahi Shimbun Display, 'The Great Wave'
2014 Oct- 2015 Jan, Paris, Reunion des musees nationaux Grand Palais, 'Hokusai'
2017 25 May - 13 Aug, London, BM, G35, Hokusai: Beyond the Great Wave
2017 6 Oct - 19 Nov, Osaka, Abeno Harukas Art Museum
2022 16 Apr-12 Jun, Tokyo, Suntory Museum of Art, Hokusai from the British Museum
- Acquisition date
- Registration number
- Additional IDs
Miscellaneous number: B97