The title of the painting, “Samidare” means early summer rain in Japanese, or translated more literally, “rain in May”. The word first appeared in a poem composed in the 12th century. Since then it indicates on and off rains through which the sun or moon can be seen in between.
Going back to the painting by Nikka Tanaka, it depicts the moment after a shower when a weak ray of sun appears in the landscape. A bird flies through, enjoying the patch of sun in the moment, and sings (observe the bird’s mouth).
Nikka Tanaka has an excellent talent for expressing the moment of a change in nature and showing us its fleeting moment of joy.
About the Artist:
One of the pupils of Toyohiko, the highly esteemed Shijo school painter, Tanaka, Nikka was active in the first part of the 19th century and is recognized as one of the significant artists of the Shijo school. He died in 1845, and though his birth date is not known, his work was highly regarded during his lifetime. His work was first recorded in 1815 in Kyoto, and his name is also mentioned in, Bunsei no koro no Monjo (Cultural Matters Heard in Bunsei era), a magazine published during the Bunsei era (1818 - 1829). During this time in Kyoto, Keibun and Toyohiko were considered the two most celebrated painters. As Toyohiko's pupil, Nikka was seen to have excellent brushwork, which was swift, elegant, and masterful. In his book, The Uninhibited Brush, Jack Hillier writes, “there are qualities in the painting of Tanaka, Nikka that almost lift him on the highest plane...”