Currently Documented Edition Watermark, Signature, and Seal Markings:
||+ Seal A
||+ Seal F
||+ Seal A
||+ Seal B
[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 67 is original to Rakusan who published the print as the 67th 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 67 was in February 1932 (or perhaps slightly later), and it was delivered in installment thirty-four (of fifty). 67 apparently sold well from the start since it needed to be reprinted at least once during the edition I period ending in mid 1933. It is likely that each of these near identical print runs had about two hundred copies.
67 continued to be among the most popular, and therefore most reprinted, designs. It is one of the very few designs in this series which have at least four different versions distinguished both by different suites of edition markings and also by distinctive color and technique modifications. Although the signature and seal markings are the same in edition I and edition IIa, even when the criterial watermarks are not visible, color differences distinguish the two.
In Edition I of 67 the background is a warm tan printed in a relatively opaque pigment. Similar backgrounds were used on many designs in the two main sequence series through at least 1935. However, by the later edition reprintings these backgrounds are replaced by thinner, more translucent pigments with cooler and less saturated tan colors. The first printing impression of a 100 Series design is the key block outline. The key block for 67 includes a printing flaw extending to the left from behind the throat of the middle bird. It is supposed to be a curved cherry stem which should have a blossom and/or leaves at the end. In edition I this is all but invisible since it was overprinted by the opaque background color. However, in later editions it clearly shows through the thinner inks.
In edition I of 67 the backs of the birds are lime green, and the lowest bird typically has pink bokashi shading only on the side on the left (actually the bird's right flank). Although the image illustrated above is also edition I, it is currently the only documented copy with pink bokashi on both flanks of that bird; and it is therefore atypical in that respect. In all later edition copies the backs of the birds are dark brownish olive green, and the lowest bird has pink bokashi shading in a triangle under the tail with little or none on the flanks.
In edition III of 67 the flat background of the earlier editions is overprinted with a band of greenish bokashi along the bottom margin.
In addition pale greens replace the rusty orange color used extensively in the new buds and foliage in the earlier two editions.
Edition III reprinting was sometime between 1948 and 1955.
67 is unusual in having two differently marked versions within a single edition. Each of these edition II versions had at least one separate full print run sometime between 1936 and 1941. Under normal circumstances Rakusan would not reprint until his stock of a particular design was running low. However, at least half of the documented copies of edition IIf (with seal F) and of edition IIa (with seal A) were not sold until after World War II. Because Rakusan knew 67 sold well, during the last years before the studio closed for the war he apparently chose to print extra copies in advance in order to have a larger supply ready for the return of his clientele after the war.
An edition IIf copy of 67 was included in a presentation album from August 1941, but it could have been printed years earlier. Rakusan typically selected his finest copies for important commissions, pulling them when necessary from his display sets and replacing them with ones of perceived lesser quality. His final display copy is edition IIf.
Copies in Public Collections:
Edition I: Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, MA, USA; (1952) 52.502 [not illustrated online].
Edition I: Carnegie Museum of Art, Pittsburgh, PA, USA; (1990) 90.18.11 [not illustrated online].
Edition IIf: Mead Art Museum, Amherst College, Amherst, MA, USA; (1942.44.c); from an August 1941 presentation album [illustrated online].
Edition II [seal not reported]: Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, MA, USA; (1951) 51.1741 [not illustrated online].
In Japanese the general name for any cherry is 桜 (or older style 櫻), さくら, サクラ, sakura
Rakusan described the cherry variety in 67 as しだれ桜 , shidare-zakura
, lit. 'weeping (pendulous) cherry' which today is popularly applied to any cherry with a weeping habit.
As with many old cherry cultivars the species identifications of Japanese Weeping Cherry, 枝垂桜, (枝)垂れ桜, しだれ桜, しだれざくら, シダレザクラ, shidare-zakura
, is open to dispute.
The variety originated in Japan and is unknown in the wild.
In the West weeping cherry is often described as Prunus x subhirtella
(a hybrid between P. incisa
and P. spachiana
Because that cross includes non-weeping cultivars, the varietal name pendula
is frequently added to describe the selected weeping forms.
Although Rakusan illustrates a pink semi-double form, the blossoms of weeping cherry cultivars vary from white to pink and single to fully double.
Sometimes weeping cherry is considered a form of Prunus spachiana
Japanese White-eye, Zosterops japonicus, 繡眼児, 眼白, now usually 目白, めじろ, メジロ, mejiro, lit. 'white eye', is a familiar native species.
These birds are fond of overripe and fermenting fruit; and when they become intoxicated, they are easily captured and kept as pets. Rakusan portrayed these active little birds in several different designs.