Currently Documented Edition Signature and Seal Markings:
||+ Seal A
|Edition II(?) or Edition III(?):
||+ 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 79 is original to Rakusan who published the print as the 79th 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 79 was in August 1932 (or perhaps slightly later), and it was delivered in installment forty (of fifty).
Because this design appeared so late in the series, it was probably not reprinted before the series completion in 1933, and only the initial print run of about two hundred copies comprises edition I.
The copy illustrated here is typical of edition I.
79 was printed in at least one later edition. Unfortunately, the few currently documented examples lack the edition-diagnostic watermark evidence.
The scarcity of examples suggests these represent the much smaller edition III printing, but edition II cannot at this point be ruled out.
For 79, potential edition II printings can only be dated approximately from between 1936 and 1941, and potential edition III printings between 1948 and 1955.
79 was reproduced as a fine-art-quality, large greeting card by Chryson's California. The model was a later edition copy of 79.
The image area dimensions are 6.5" x 9.25", which falls within the range of the smallest of the similar Foster reproductions (usually given as roughly 7" x 9").
The 79 reproduction includes no direct mention of Foster, and it does not appear in the Foster booklet.
However, the card would have to have been produced through some arrangement with Foster.
Several mostly undatable copies of this greeting card are well documented, but it was known to be still in print in 1961 and probably was first sold in the mid to late 1950s.
The greeting card was accompanied by a thin tissue paper insert on which is printed:
'JAPANESE BIRD PRINT.
The original art work for this fascinating lithographic reproduction was prepared by Rakusan Tsuchiya, a well-known contemporary Japanese wood block artist. The birds are Japanese Mountain Sparrows. Each one of the exquisite colors involves a separate operation in the original wood block print. We are told that many prints similar to this use as many as a hundred separate and distinct wood blocks.'
[For additional general information on Foster, the booklet, or the fine art reproductions, see the Foster article.]
Copies in Public Collections:
Edition I: Sidney and Lois Eskenazi Museum of Art, Indiana University, Bloomington, IN, USA; 76.41.7 [illustrated online].
Japanese Cornelian Cherry (Japanese Cornel), Cornus officinalis,
山茱萸, さんしゅゆ, サンシュユ, sanshuyu,
lit. 'mountain silverberry', is actually a kind of dogwood rather than a cherry. This shrub is native to Korea and China rather than Japan, and all three languages use versions of the original Chinese name. The original Silverberry, 茱萸 , しゅゆ, シュユ, shuyu,
', is another, unrelated berry-producing shrub. The name Rakusan reproduced in the title-caption of the woodblock print has a typographical error omitting one of the kana characters. In 79 Rakusan included this species as brown, leafless, branches with tiny new yellow flowers as well as several lingering red fruits from the previous year.
Leafy branches of different as yet unidentified plant, perhaps an evergreen shrub, are included in the design in the lower right background. Its branches can be distinguished from the cornelian cherry not only by the red and green leaves but also by the red bark.
Long-tailed Tit, Aegithalos caudatus, 柄長, えなが, エナガ e-naga, lit. 'long-handle' (describing the long tail) is a very active small native Japanese bird.
The name 'Japanese Mountain Sparrow' used on the greeting card insert is not used for Long-tailed Tit. It instead refers to a different species, Varied Tit, which Rakusan used in design 57 (q.v.). The Japanese name for Varied Tit Parus varius is 山雀, やまがら, ヤマガラ, yama-gara, lit. 'mountain tit'. Although occasionally encountered, the reading of 山雀 as やますずめ, ヤマスズメ, yama-suzume, lit. 'mountain sparrow', is today considered incorrect. However, that rendition is clearly the source of the translated name 'Japanese Mountain Sparrow' which appears in the card insert.