And then of course, the full potential of the urban romance of rain has been unlocked by urban photography – going from classical B&W photos ( Leonard Misonne!) to glossy pictures of all the grubby grimy glamour of shimmering neon lights reflected in wet streets.
Van Ruysdael , but where’s the visibly raging rain? The splashing drops? The rainy misty shrouds? I’m not sure ...
And the Venetians then, with their Laguna-dampness .... Does rain ever finally pour down in Giorgione’s ominous Tempest?
Oh, and in medieval books of hours, with their miniatures showing the labours of the months, surely there must be a picture of poor drenched peasants toiling away in a downpour? But no, even October, November and December seem to keep it quite dry in Les Très Riches Heures du Duc de Berry.
Though there are of course a few Nativities taking place in snow covered stables including icicles hanging down from the shabby roof. And Bruegel’s hunters were courageously (& quite prettily) trotting through deep and very white snow. But still: no rain.
There are quite some missed iconographic opportunities there methinks. How infinitely pouring rain could have added to the pathos of poor Joseph and Maria trudging on that tired donkey during their Flight to Egypt! And imagine a chilling hostile drizzle in the Garden of Olives... (now don’t tell me it hardly ever rains in Egypt or Jerusalem - painters adapted the scenes to northern tastes anyway).
And the Caravaggists, with their contrasted chiaroscuros – why did they not exploit the many pictorial delights of gleaming , splattering, refracting Rain?
Perhaps because rain back then in the old days really was nothing but a nuisance, a harbinger of miserable wetness and of fatal colds & coughs?
Perhaps one does need a sufficient measure of rainproof materials and vehicles, as well as warm housing, to appreciate the romantic and visual potential of rain?
Not to mention the lavish availability of waterproof sources of artificial light – yeah, car lamps, traffic lights and neon lights ... they do get the very best out of rain.
Notes being washed away