Currently Documented Edition Signature and Seal Markings:
||+ Seal A
[For illustration of seals listed by seal code letter, see the Seals article.
For edition characteristics applicable to this series as a whole, see the Edition article.]
This woodblock print was produced from an original painting on silk dating from the late 1920s whose current location is unknown.
The indentification of this design as number 40 is original to Rakusan who published the print as the 40th design in his series of one hundred woodblock prints called 楽山花鳥畫譜, Rakuzan Kachou Gafu
, lit. 'Rakusan's Flower and Bird Print Series'.
Initial edition I publication of 40 was in December 1930 (or perhaps slightly later) in installment twenty (of fifty).
However, additional edition I printings may have continued until mid 1933.
The copy illustrated here is typical of edition I.
No later edition printings of 40 are currently known.
40alt, a woodblock print of an alternate sketch of the same design subject was issued the month before the initial printing of 40 as a preview advertisement.
40 is unusual in this series in several ways.
Typically, Rakusan did not mention physical features in his title-captions.
However, here he included the expression 干潮磯, kanchou iso, literally 'lowtide seashore' to describe the setting.
It is also one of the very few designs which show a geophysical feature in the background; in this instance the sea.
The constellation of species shown (see next section) confirms that this is a strictly marine environment.
As such, 40 (and 40alt) are the only designs in this series which could not have been sited within the inland city of Kyoto where Rakusan lived.
Additionally, 40 includes more different biological species than any other Rakusan artwork.
Copies in Public Collections:
Edition I: Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, MA, USA; (1951) 51.1739 [not illustrated online].
The beach tideline in 40 appears to be primarily a single variety of seaweed or algae.
Firm identification of seaweed washed up on a beach is difficult, but the illustration is entirely compatible with Sea Lettuce, Ulva
spp., 石蓴, あおさ, アオサ, ao-sa
Sea Lettuce is collected and used for food in Japan, and Rakusan would have been familiar with it both fresh and dried.
Unfortunately, 40 is one of only a few designs in this series which mentions no botanical in the title-caption.
Long-billed (Ringed) Plover, Charadrius placidus, 桑鳲千鳥, 斑鳩千鳥, 鵤千鳥, いかるちどり, イカルチドリ, ikaru-chidori, lit. 'great-billed plover', is a native Japanese species. The title-caption for 40 as originally printed includes an incorrect substitution of the katakana character チ in place of the correct kanji 千.
(The descriptor ikaru is homophonous with a word for 'angry', but in ornitholological use ikaru refers to the bill, as in ikaru 'grosbeak'.)
Rakusan shows two birds, suggesting a mated pair in this season, but since the sexes are alike it could be any two birds.
Washed up in the tideline are the remains of seven marine mollusks.
Although Rakusan does not mention any of them in the title-caption, all can be at least tentatively identified:
At far left next to the signature is an articulated bivalve, clearly a kind of clam (Family Veneridae).
It would not be possible to identify the species solely from 40, but apparently Rakusan only used one variety of clam in all of his other artworks including 40alt.
Taking all the Rakusan examples of clams together it is possible to identify the single species as Common Orient Clam, Meretrix lusoria, 蚌, 蛤, 文蛤, はまぐり, ハマグリ, hamaguri.
At the lower margin just above the caption are two large marine snails of the same species of turban shell (Family Turbinidae).
Horned Turban Shell, Turbo (Batillus) cornutus, 拳螺, 栄螺, 蠑螺, さざえ, サザエ, sazae, is a farmed delicacy in Japan easily obtainable in markets for use as models.
At bottom between the turban shells and in above center are each of two smaller, dark-spotted white, marine snails of the same species of dove shell (Family Columbellidae).
Tortoise Dove Shell, Pardalinops (Pyrene) testudinaria tylerae, 松虫貝, まつむしがい , マツムシガイ, matsu-mushi-gai, is unmistakable and is a shell collector favorite.
Above center and right of the second dove shell is a single small dark marine snail which can tentatively be identified as a periwinkle (Family Littorinidae).
Periwinkle, Littorina brevicula, 玉黍貝, たまきびがい, タマキビガイ, tama-kibi-gai, is an extremely common species which is also eaten in Japan and is therefore readily available in markets.
At the center right margin is a small brown marine snail (shown looking directly at the spiral top) which can be identified as a top shell (Family Trochidae), so-called from resemblance to the spinning toy.
Button Top Shell, Umbonium moniliferum, 疣喜佐古, いぼきさご, イボキサゴ, ibokisago, is another unmistakable common species.