Currently Documented Edition Signature and Seal Markings:
||+ Seal A
||+ Seal F
||+ 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 85 is original to Rakusan who published the print as the 85th 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 85 was in November 1932 (or perhaps slightly later) in installment forty-three (of fifty).
Because this design appeared so late in the series, it may not have been reprinted before the series completion in 1933, and only the initial print run of about 200 copies comprises edition I.
The copy illustrated here is typical of the original condition of edition I.
86 was reprinted in each of the two later editions, edition II reprintings from between 1936 and 1941, and edition III reprintings from between 1948 and 1955.
The three editions are differently seal-marked, and there are also some easily visible production differences.
The edition I background is an overall single shade of rich tan with just a hint of thin brown bokashi superimposed in the lower area.
The middle and upper background is woodblock-overprinted with bands of adhesive which have been thickly dusted with metallic gold glitter.
For both later editions the background is a lighter and much less saturated beige, and the thin brown bokashi is darker and covers the lower third of the background.
The glue bands are omitted and these editions typically lack glitter.
In printing 85 Rakusan used a single mauve-purple pigment as a component in many of the original ink colors for the plants.
Unfortunately, this pigment is extremely sensitive to light-fading.
Original hues similar to those in the example illustrated above can over time lose the mauve-purple to become the brighter reds, blues, and greens occasionally seen in some copies today.
The mutation is especially evident in the later editions where Rakusan had increased the proportions of those primary colors in the inks.
85 is one of the very few Rakusan designs for which any printing details exist.
The Foster booklet reports that 85 required 220 printing impressions to complete.
Other Foster Information:
85 is among the most familiar Rakusan designs because of Walter Foster.
In addition to marketing original Rakusan woodblock prints of 85 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 III copy of 85 in Foster's personal collection.
One version is a fine art reproduction produced for individual sale, and the other appears as page 11 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 85 are actually copies of page 11 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.
The colors of the booklet reproduction on page 11 are the least faithful in the entire publication.
The original background is beige and not at all greenish, and most of the other colors as printed there are also oddly shifted towards green.
Both reproduction versions are of similar size (listed as 9" x 12"); therefore they are significantly smaller than the original woodblock print (listed as 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 85 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.
Most of these Foster labels are inaccurate at best.
Here he called 85 "Canary and Cabbage Leaves".
Copies in Public Collections:
Edition I: Carnegie Museum of Art, Pittsburgh, PA, USA; (1989) 89.28.1142; [illustrated online]
Edition II (seal F): San Diego Museum of Art, San Diego, CA, USA; (1981.21.1); [illustrated online]
Flowering Kale, Brassica oleracea
, is today usually called 葉牡丹, はぼたん, ハボタン, ha-botan
, lit. 'leaf-peony'.
Kale is a cultivated exotic import typically grown as an ornamental rather than to be eaten.
In the title caption for 85 Rakusan used instead 葉牡丹 菜, はぼたん な, ハボタンナ, ha-botan na,
lit. 'leaf-peony vegetable', which has the same meaning.
Canary, Serinus canaria, にかなりや, カナリヤ, kanariya, is a familiar exotic cage bird in Japan where it has also been extensively bred.
There are other variant names for this species in Japanese including かなりあ, カナリア, kanaria; and かなりい, カナリー, kanarii, (all three borrowed from European languages);
and 金糸雀 , kin-shi jaku, lit 'gold-thread sparrow'.