Currently Documented Edition Signature and Seal Markings:
||+ Seal A
||+ 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 51 is original to Rakusan who published the print as the 51st 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 51 was in June 1931 (or perhaps slightly later) in installment twenty-six (of fifty).
However, additional edition I printings of 51 may have continued until as late as 1933.
The copy illustrated here is typical of edition I.
Edition II printings of 51 can only be dated approximately to between 1936 and 1941.
An edition II copy of 51 was included in a Rakusan presentation album from August 1941.
No edition III printings of 51 are currently known.
Copies in Public Collections:
Edition I: Honolulu Museum of Art, Honolulu, HI, USA; (1938) 11002 [illustrated online].
Edition II: Mead Art Museum, Amherst College, Amherst, MA, USA; (1942.44.a) [illustrated online].
Edition II: Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, MA, USA; (1951) 51.1744 [not illustrated online].
Japanese Spatterdock, Nuphar japonicum
, 河骨, こうほね, コウホネ, kouhone
, are common waterplants in Japan.
Closely similar species are found in much of the northern hemisphere.
There are many common name variants in English which are sometimes applied to the Japanese species as well: Yellow (Bullhead) Lotus, Candock, Nuphar, etc.
Common Snipe (Paddyfield Snipe), Gallinago (Capella) gallinago, 田鴫, 田鷸, たしぎ, タシギ, ta-shigi, lit. 'field shorebird', is a Japanese native species.
Historically, 鴫 can be translated as 'snipe', but it is more often today rendered as 'sandpiper'.
A better English equivalent is 'shorebird' since the meaning actually includes any bird in the families Scolopacidae or Rostratulidae.
Exact species identification among the various closely similar snipes is notoriously difficult in the field, and from an artwork it is almost impossible.
Therefore here the exact species designation for 51 relies almost entirely on Rakusan's use of the name 田鴫 in the title-caption rather than on the elements of his illustration.
References to modern wildlife photographs suggest that Rakusan created 51 using sketches of a dead snipe rather than from observation of a living one.
The positionings of the head, feet, and back feathers are all unnatural ones.
Comparison with the snipe shown in 125 is also problematic since that bird is in winter plumage and would be expected to look different even if it were the same individual bird.
Although the pose in 125 is much more lifelike, the plumage is rendered with more artistic license and in less detail than in 51.
The details Rakusan chooses to enhance in 125 suggest that snipe is a different, slightly larger, species, Japanese Snipe (Latham's Snipe), Gallinago (Capella) hardwickii.
In the folio title Rakusan used 鴫 'snipe, shorebird' alone as a general name, making it unclear whether or not a particular species was intended.