Currently Documented Edition Signature and Seal Markings:
||+ Seal A
||+ Seal F
[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 49 is original to Rakusan who published the print as the 49th 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 49 was in May 1931 (or perhaps slightly later) in installment twenty-five (of fifty).
However, additional edition I printings of 49 may have continued until as late as 1933.
The copy illustrated here is typical of edition I.
Edition II printings of 49 can only be dated approximately to between 1936 and 1941.
An edition II copy of 49 was included in a Rakusan presentation album from August 1941.
No edition III printings of 49 are currently known.
49 is among the most familiar Rakusan designs because of Walter Foster.
In addition to marketing original Rakusan woodblock prints of 49 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 49 in Foster's personal collection.
One version is a fine art reproduction produced for individual sale, and the other appears as page 27 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 49 are actually copies of page 27 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 (9" x 12"); therefore they are significantly smaller than the original woodblock print (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 49 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 49 "Japanese Black Mynah and Wisteria".
[For additional general information on Foster, the booklet, or the fine art reproductions, see the Foster article.]
Copies in Public Collections:
Edition I: Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, MA, USA; (1951) 51.2479 [not illustrated online].
Edition II: Mead Art Museum, Amherst College, Amherst, MA, USA; (1942.44.b) [illustrated online].
White Wisteria, Wisteria
spp. var. alba
, 白藤 shira-fuji
, lit. 'white wisteria', is one of several popular, and closely similar, ornamental vines.
There are several species of wisteria, and most come in both white and purple varieties.
In addition to the native Japanese species, other species and hybrids are also commonly grown in Japan.
Therefore, it is very difficult to identify the wisteria shown in 49 more narrowly.
Hill Myna, Gracula religiosa, 九官鳥, きゅうかんちょう, キュウカンチョウ, kyuu-kan-chou, lit. 'nine-rank bird', is a popular exotic cage or aviary bird in Japan.