Thunder god


Artist: Katsushika Hokusai 葛飾北斎 (1760 - 1849)
Historical period(s)
Edo period, 1847
Ink and color on paper
H x W (image): 126.9 x 53.8 cm (49 15/16 x 21 3/16 in)
Credit Line
Gift of Charles Lang Freer
Accession Number
On View Location
Currently not on view

Hanging scroll

Edo period (1615 - 1868), Japan, kakemono, ukiyo-e

To 1900
Ernest Francisco Fenollosa (1853-1908), Japan, to 1900 [1]

From 1900 to 1919
Charles Lang Freer (1854-1919), purchased from Ernest Francisco Fenollosa, through Edward S. Hull Jr., New York, in 1900 [2]

From 1920
Freer Gallery of Art, gift of Charles Lang Freer in 1920 [3]


[1] See Original Kakemono List, L. 203, pg. 44, as well as Voucher No. 47, June 1900, Freer Gallery of Art and Arthur M. Sackler Gallery Archives. Edward S. Hull Jr. was Ernest Francisco Fenollosa’s (1853-1908) lawyer. Hull often acted as an agent, facilitating purchases of objects consigned to him by Fenollosa, as well as purchases of objects consigned to him by Fenollosa's well-known associate, Bunshichi Kobayashi (see correspondence, Hull to Freer, 1898-1900, as well as invoices from E.S. Hull Jr., 1898-1900, Freer Gallery of Art and Arthur M. Sackler Gallery Archives). See also, Ingrid Larsen, "'Don’t Send Ming or Later Pictures': Charles Lang Freer and the First Major Collection of Chinese Painting in an American Museum," Ars Orientalis vol. 40 (2011), pgs. 15 and 34. See further, Thomas Lawton and Linda Merrill, Freer: A Legacy of Art, (Washington, D.C. and New York: Freer Gallery of Art and H. N. Abrams, 1993), pgs. 133-134.

[2] See note 1.

[3] The original deed of Charles Lang Freer's gift was signed in 1906. The collection was received in 1920 upon the completion of the Freer Gallery.

Previous Owner(s)

Charles Lang Freer 1854-1919
Ernest Francisco Fenollosa (C.L. Freer source) 1853 - 1908


In the upper right portion of this painting is the Thunder God, who beats the drums carried on his back during storms. Japanese painters enjoyed depicting this deity among rolling clouds and sparks of lightning. Hokusai's painting reflects his virtuosity in capturing the latent energy of the deity as he hovers among black clouds splattered with ink to express the violence of the storm.

A phenomenally prolific artist, Hokusai produced sketches, paintings, prints, and the illustrations for more than two hundred woodblock-printed books during his lifetime. This work, which gives his age as 88 (by Western calculation, 87), displays the skill and energy that he retained even in the last years of his life.

Published References
  • Thomas Lawton Linda Merrill. Freer: a legacy of art. Washington and New York, 1993. p. 137, fig. 91.
  • Ann Yonemura. Hokusai: Volume One. Exh. cat. Washington, 2006. p. 239, pl. 161.
  • Dr. John Alexander Pope, Thomas Lawton, Harold P. Stern. The Freer Gallery of Art. 2 vols., Washington and Tokyo, 1971-1972. cat. 88, p. 179.
  • Ann Yonemura et al. Hokusai: Volume Two. Exh. cat. Washington, 2006. p. 36, 94, pl. 132.
  • Harold P. Stern. Ukiyo-e Painting. Exh. cat. Washington and Baltimore, 1973. cat. 99, pp. 264-265.
  • Matthi Forrer. Hokusai. Munich. p. 265, pl. 249.
  • Mirabilia. number 3, autumn 2012 France. Cover.
  • Natsuhiko Kyogoku, Katsumi Tada, Kazuhiro Kubota. Hokusai yookai hyakkei (Hundred Monster Paintings of Hokusai). Tokyo. pp. 11-12.
  • l'Exposition des chefs d'oeuvre du Musee Guimet (The Exhibition of Masterpieces from Musee Guimet). Paris. p. 16.
  • Ernest Francisco Fenollosa. Catalogue of the Exhibition of Paintings of Hokusai: Held at the Japan Fine Art Association, Uyeno Park, Tókio, from 13th to 30th January, 1900. Exh. cat. Tokyo, January 13 - 30, 1900. no. 212.
  • Harold P. Stern Narasaki Muneshige. Ukiyo-e shuka. vol. 16, Tokyo. no. 20.
  • Hokusai nikuhitsuga taisei (Compilation of paintings by Hokusai). Tokyo. no. 125.
Collection Area(s)
Japanese Art
Web Resources
Google Cultural Institute
Rights Statement

Copyright with museum