Rakusan.net home articles gallery links contact


素描 Sobyou
'Rough Sketches'
[100 Series Alternates]


The first major series Rakusan produced from his own studio was 楽山花鳥画譜, Rakuzan Kachou Gafu, which is called here the 100 Series. It was intended to be distributed only to subscribers who had paid for the entire series in advance. However, slow subscription sales led Rakusan to decide to offer the 100 Series on a month-by-month payment plan which could be cancelled at any time.

Primarily as an enticement for the monthly payment subscribers to continue, Rakusan decided to include simple prints as advertising previews the month before the planned publication of the final version of each of the designs. Since series publication had already begun, the first ten 100 Series designs do not have corresponding preview prints. Beginning in September 1929 and continuing through February 1931, two preview prints were added to each of the regular installments delivered to all subscribers. The preview prints were all pre-printed within a relatively short period between approximately August 1929 and January 1930. By the time Rakusan had run out of his initial batch of pre-printed preview designs, the 100 Series was selling well, and the practice of sending out preview prints was discontinued. As a result, corresponding preview prints exist only for 100 Series designs 11 through 46.

The models for each of these thirty-six woodblock prints were selected from among the alternative compositions created as preliminary sketches during the initial planning period for the 100 Series. Because Rakusan later destroyed all of his sketchbooks, these prints represent a rare glimpse into how he developed his final versions. Rakusan called these alternate designs 素描, sobyou, literally 'rough sketches'. He did not consider their woodblock prints to be significant artworks in their own right, and he did not include them in his formal inventory numbering. Therefore, the original Rakusan numbering for each of the polychrome final version prints has been modified here by the addition of ‘alt’ to indicate its related alternate series preview print. (For ease of comparison, illustrations of each of the subsequently produced corresponding 100 Series designs are also shown on this page.)

Each of the 100 Series Alternate designs was printed using only three impressions: an outline key block in black, an infilling of medium gray, and a seal G in dark red. Rakusan printed these preview designs on the same edition I watermark paper used for the polychrome prints in the 100 Series proper. Since these designs were intended as single-use ephemera, they were never reprinted.

[Click on the thumbnail to bring up a subpage which includes a larger image of the design, additional details and images, and links to related designs.]


11alt

11

12alt

12

13alt

13

14alt

14

15alt

15

16alt

16

17alt

17

18alt

18

19alt

19

20alt

20

21alt

21

22alt

22

23alt

23

24alt

24

25alt

25

26alt

26

27alt

27

28alt

28

29alt

29

30alt

30

31alt

31

32alt

32

33alt

33

34alt

34

35alt

35

36alt

36

37alt

37

38alt

38

39alt

39

40alt

40

41alt

41

42alt

42

43alt

43

44alt

44

45alt

45

46alt

46
© 2007 (subpages © 2012) (revision © 2016) Dr Michael J P Nichols

previous gallery next gallery