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IMAGE: Gaifū kaisei, Red Fuji
Thirty-six Views of Mount Fuji (drawing by Hokusai, 1760-1849)
Fine Wind, Clear Morning (凱風快晴, Gaifū kaisei), also known as South Wind, Clear Sky or Red Fuji, is a wood block print by Japanese artist Hokusai (1760–1849), part of his Thirty-six Views of Mount Fuji series, dating from c. 1830 to 1832. The work has been described as "one of the simplest and at the same time one of the most outstanding of all Japanese prints".
In early autumn when, as the title specifies, the wind is southerly and the sky is clear, the rising sun can turn Mount Fuji red. Hokusai captures this moment with compositional abstraction but meteorological specificity, especially when compared to the rest of the series. The three shades of deepening blue of the sky mirror the three hues of the mountain. The lingering remnants of snow at the peak of the mountain and dark shadows encompassing the forest at its base place it very precisely in time. Mount Fuji's solidly symmetrical shape on the right half of the image is balanced by the delicate clouds to the left, for a striking composition.
The earliest impressions appear faded when compared to the versions usually seen, but are closer to Hokusai's original conception. The early prints have a deliberately uneven blue sky, which increases the sky's brightness and gives movement to the clouds. The peak is brought forward with a halo of Prussian blue. Subsequent prints have a strong, even blue tone, and the printer added a new block, overprinting the white clouds on the horizon with light blue. Later prints also typically employ a strong benigara (Bengal red) pigment, which has given the painting its common name of Red Fuji. The green block color was re-cut, lowering the meeting point between forest and mountain slope.
An alternative impression of the print was made with a completely different color-scheme. In this version, the clouds are only just visible in the upper portion. The sky is mostly rendered in a flat pale blue with a thin strip of grey at the top, and a graduated strip of Prussian blue along the horizon which extends up the slope of the mountain.