紅芙蓉に相思鳥 (初秋)

benifuyou ni soushichou (shoshuu)

Rose Mallow and Leiothrix (Early Autumn)

紅(アメリカ)フヨウにソウシチョウ (冬)


Original Number

54


ADDITIONAL NOTES FOR THIS DESIGN
Currently Documented Edition Signature and Seal Markings:
Edition I: 楽山居 Raku-zan Kyo + 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.]

Design History:
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 54 is original to Rakusan who published the print as the 54th 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 54 was in July 1931 (or perhaps slightly later) in installment twenty-seven (of fifty). However, additional edition I printings of 54 may have continued until as late as 1933. The copy illustrated here is typical of edition I. No later edition printings of 54 are currently known.

Copies in Public Collections:
Edition I: Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, MA, USA; (1951) 51.1735 [not illustrated online except as a slightly-cropped greeting card reproduction].

Species Illustrated:
It is very difficult to identify mallow cultivars from among the many species and hybrids. Rakusan's name 紅芙蓉, beni-fuyou, today is normally used to mean 'pink lotus', but it can also mean 'rose mallow', which is evidently what Rakusan intended. Apparently the variety illustrated in 54 is a pale pink cultivar of (Swamp) Rose Mallow, Hibiscus moscheutos, a species native to North America which comes in many color shades from white to red. The modern Japanese name, アメリカフヨウ, amerika fuyou, reflects the source of this originally exotic species. The bamboo trellis supporting the plant clearly indicates that the specimen shown in the design is not growing wild. Here, 紅, beni, is interpreted as a color descriptor and not as part of a species name.

Red-billed Leiothrix (Pekin Robin), Leiothrix lutea, 相思鳥, そうしちょう, ソウシチョウ, soushi-chou, lit. 'love-bird', is an exotic species often kept as a pet in Japan. Rakusan would have used aviary specimens for his design.


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