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 44 is original to Rakusan who published the print as the 44th 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 44 was in February 1931 (or perhaps slightly later) in installment twenty-two (of fifty).
Additional edition I printings of 44 may have continued until mid 1933.
The copy illustrated here is typical of edition I.
Rakusan considered 44 to be one of his best designs and included it in at least four formal presentation albums between 1935 and 1940.
(Only one of these albums is known to be in a public collection, see below.) No later edition printings of 44 are currently known. However, since good quality edition I copies of 44 were still available in 1940, it is likely that an edition II reprinting between then and the studio closure in 1941 would have been unnecessary.
44alt, a woodblock print of an alternate sketch of the same design subject was issued the month before the initial printing of 44 as a preview advertisement.
Copies in Public Collections:
Edition I: Mead Art Museum at Amherst College, Amherst, MA, USA; (AC 2004.151.02) [illustrated online]; from an October 29, 1935 presentation album.
Edition I: Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, MA, USA; (1951) 51.1743 [not illustrated online].
Azaleas and rhododendrons (both genus Rhododendron
) are represented by an enormous number of native species, hybrids, and varieties in Japan.
It is almost impossible to identify particular species solely from artworks. The general name usually applied to all azaleas is 躑躅, ツツジ, つつじ, tsutsuji
The habit of the plant in 44 suggests that it is one of the deciduous azaleas.
In the title-caption for 44 Rakusan used 山躑躅, やまつつじ, ヤマツツジ, yama-tsutsuji
, lit. 'mountain azalea', which today is restricted to a particular species, Rhododendron obtusum
, which is sometimes sometimes called Torch Azalea in English.
It cannot be determined if that species is what Rakusan meant to indicate, or if he intended a more general meaning of 'wild azalea' which is a more general reading of the kanji.
The small plant with maroon leaves is not mentioned in the title-caption.
However it is easily identified as a seedling of a red-leafed variety of Japanese Maple, Acer palmatum.
The species is culturally important and has many currently used names.
The name arbitrarily selected here is one typical in botanical usage today, イロハモミジ, いろはもみじ, いろは紅葉, 以呂波紅葉, iroha-momiji.
In naming the same species in 62, Rakusan chose to emphasize the autumn leaf color instead of the species, 紅葉楓, kouyou kaede, lit. 'red-leafed maple'.
Bohemian Waxwing, Bombycilla garrulus , 黄連雀, キレンジャク, ki-renjaku, lit. 'yellow-waxwing', is a native Japanese species.
Rakusan shows two birds, suggesting a mated pair in this season, but since the sexes are alike it could be any two birds.