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 45 is original to Rakusan who published the print as the 45th 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 45 was in March 1931 (or perhaps slightly later) in installment twenty-three (of fifty).
However, additional edition I printings may have continued until mid 1933.
The copy illustrated is typical of edition I.
Rakusan considered 45 to be one of his best designs and included it in at least three formal presentation albums in 1940. No later edition copies of 45 are currently known. However, since good quality edition I copies of 45 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.
45 is one of the very few Rakusan designs for which any printing details exist.
The Foster booklet reports that 45 required 120 printing impressions to complete.
45alt, a woodblock print of an alternate sketch of the same design subject was issued the month before the initial printing of 45 as a preview advertisement.
45 is one of the last two designs in this series for which an alternate sketch was distributed.
Other Foster Information: 45 is among the most familiar Rakusan designs because of Walter Foster.
In addition to marketing original Rakusan woodblock prints of 45 from Japan, Foster also sold two grades of reproductions which he had machine-printed in the USA.
Both reproduction versions were created from the same original model, an edition I copy of 45 in Foster's personal collection.
One version is a fine art reproduction produced for individual sale, and the other appears as page 24 of the Foster booklet.
The fine art reproduction was produced to very high standards of photolithography on good quality, heavy matte paper; and the inks were carefully color-matched to those of the original woodblock print.
Because of this attention to detail, it was relatively expensive, few copies were sold, and they are seldom encountered today.
Instead, what are mostly offered for sale as reproductions of 45 are actually copies of page 24 cut from the Foster booklet.
Regrettably, the booklet was inexpensively and inexactly machine-printed on semi-gloss paper, and its illustration colors are not true to the original.
Both reproduction versions are of similar size (listed as 9" x 12"); therefore they are significantly smaller than the original woodblock print (listed as 13" x 18").
(Both reproductions actually maintain the unique proportions of the original woodblock print; so the advertised dimensions are only rough approximations.)
Initially, Foster sold original woodblock prints of 45 for $25, fine art reproductions for $3, and the entire booklet (with 27 different designs) for $1.
Because the Foster booklet was printed in great numbers and remains widely available today, it is usually less expensive to buy the entire booklet than a single page reproduction.
Because Foster could not read Rakusan's Japanese title-captions, he made up ones of his own to use in the booklet. Here he called 45 simply "Black Bird", a name he also used for design 30 in this series.
[For additional general information on Foster, the booklet, or the fine art reproductions, see the Foster article.]
Chinese Redbud, Cercis chinensis
, 花蘇芳, はなずおう, ハナズオウ, hanazuou
, is a Japanese native flowering tree.
Included in the composition, but not mentioned in the title-caption, is a large form of bamboo, 竹, take.
White-backed Woodpecker, Picoides (Dendrocopos) leucotos, 大赤啄木(鳥), おおあかげら, オオアカゲラ, oo-aka-gera, lit. 'large red woodpecker', is a Japanese native bird.