Amon Carter print details

Thunder Shower

Arthur Dove (1880-1946)

Object Details

  • Date


  • Object Type


  • Medium

    Oil and wax emulsion on canvas

  • Dimensions

    20 1/4 x 32 in.

  • Inscriptions


    signed, l.c.: DOVE.

  • Credit Line

    Amon Carter Museum of American Art, Fort Worth, Texas

  • Accession Number


  • Copyright

    Public domain

Object Description

Dove was fascinated by meteorology, and he kept detailed records of his weather observations in his journal. Completed in 1940, Thunder Shower may have been inspired by a storm that he drove through on Long Island in September of 1939 while traveling with his wife, the artist Helen Torr.

The picture shows a lightning bolt cutting through the sky, illuminating the surrounding clouds in a burst of yellow light. In painting the weather, Dove sought to convey more than just visible sensations. The layered sawtooth shapes of orange, blue, and red mimic the uneven illumination of an unsettled sky, but they also suggest the radiating soundwaves of a thunderclap. Meanwhile, to the left of the lightning bolt flecks of black paint suggest the process of moisture condensing into raindrops, an idiosyncratic reference to the unseen processes that shape the natural world.

—Text taken from the Carter Handbook (2023)

Additional details

Location: On view
See more by Arthur Dove


Educator Resources
  • How and why might an artist’s style change over time?

    How does an artist use the ideas and techniques of other artists in their own work?

    How might a work of art reflect an artist’s or a community’s lived experiences?

    Why might an artist choose to abstract a scene rather than to create a more representational, or realistic, depiction?

    What elements does an artist working in abstraction use to communicate a message or tell a story?

  • What do you see? Is the artist painting something from the real world? What do you think it might be?

    Show the name of the painting and ask students if they see anything that reminds them of a thundershower. What do you see and where is it in the painting?

    Describe the lightning and draw its squiggly line with a finger in the air. Notice how the light cloud in the center suggests the flash of a lightning bolt, while the blue-and-black edges suggest the shadows cast by the flash.

    What other ways has Dove captured the shifts in weather? Look at the flecks around the lightning; what might they represent? Do they remind you of raindrops?

    Look at the cloud formations in the sky. How would you describe them? Do they remind you of anything?

    What is the mood of this painting? How does it make you feel? How does Dove capture that mood?

    Arthur Dove and his wife were caught in a thunderstorm one evening while driving home, which gave Dove the idea to paint this work. Imagine you are in the back seat of their car. What has he chosen to leave out? What things about the storm did he consider most important? Describe with your five senses what it would be like driving with them.

  • Grades 4–8

    Students will write an expository paragraph about a weather event in which they were involved. They should use their senses in their descriptions and be sure to tell how the story ends. Finally, students will draw the weather event and reflect on what they chose to include or exclude from their work of art.

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