The Thundershower

Media - 1967.6.19 - SAAM-1967.6.19_1 - 2493
Copied H. Lyman Saÿen, The Thundershower, ca. 1917-1918, tempera on wood, Smithsonian American Art Museum, Gift of H. Lyman Sayen to his nation, 1967.6.19
Free to use

Artwork Details

The Thundershower
ca. 1917-1918
3646 in. (91.4116.8 cm.)
Credit Line
Gift of H. Lyman Sayen to his nation
Mediums Description
tempera on wood
  • Abstract
  • Figure female
  • Allegory — other — nature
  • Landscape — weather — shower
Object Number

Artwork Description

Saÿen studied with Matisse in Paris and was among the first to bring modern art into Philadelphia's conservative culture. He created The Thundershower from a mix of European modernism and Native American decorative patterns. But this painting is not just "cross-cultural." It also marks a transition from an older world to a new and dynamic century. The two figures move through time and space like the frames of a filmstrip, and organic forms meld with angles and arcs of pure color. Before he began to paint, Saÿen was an electrical engineer who held patents for radiological instruments. He died on the threshold of the Machine Age, shortly after completing this work, and The Thundershower suggests an artist who was already engaged in a new way of seeing.

Exhibition Label, Smithsonian American Art Museum, 2006