Bowdoin College Museum of Art

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Image of Thundering Nevada Falls 5090


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Chiura Obata (1885 - 1975)


Thundering Nevada Falls

Creation Date

ca. 1955


mid-20th century


19 15/16 in. x 15 7/8 in. (50.64 cm x 40.32 cm)

Object Type


Creation Place

North America, United States

Medium and Support

colored ink on silk mounted on cardboard panel

Credit Line

Gift of Eliot O'Hara


This artwork may be under copyright. For further information, please consult the Museum’s Copyright Terms and Conditions.

Accession Number

In 1927, the Japanese-born artist Obata, a professor at the University of California at Berkeley, first backpacked in Yosemite National Park and created numerous watercolors that he used as source material for a celebrated series of traditionally produced Japanese woodblock prints. Some twenty-five years later, with “Thundering Nevada Falls,” he revisited the scenic beauty of the Yosemite Valley and conveyed this majestic cascade in the elegant strokes of transparent hues of watercolor on silk. The mottled treatment of the rocks contrasts boldly with the sharper, staccato strokes used to depict the almost-bare tree in the foreground. The drawing captures a famous view from Mist Trail; while the artist could have painted the work on site, it is just as likely that he painted it from memory in the studio. He demonstrated his technique for the 1954 film “Oriental Brushwork,” in which director Eliot O’Hara explains that he prefers this watercolor of the Falls to the experience of the natural site.