Signature and Seal Markings:
|Edition I (only edition):
||+ Seal A
The signature 篁子生, Kou-shi-sei forms the basis of the titles for both series in the 篁子生画選, Koushisei Gasen, Project. However on woodblock prints it is an uncommon signature variation used with only a few designs. Rakusan soon elaborated this signature to 楽山篁子生, Raku-zan Kou-shi-sei, which is found on most later woodblock prints.
[For illustration of seals listed by seal code letter, see the Seals article.]
Series History and Definitions:
During the two years between mid 1933 and mid 1935 Rakusan produced a series of 180 individual woodblock-printed fan designs.
These fan designs are printed as negative images with a single impression of black ink.
Although all are actually woodblock prints, this traditional negative-image printing style is called 石摺(り), ishi-zuri
, lit. 'stone rubbing', from its superficial resemblance to that technique.
Rakusan called this series
篁子生石摺画選, Koushisei Ishizuri Gasen
, lit. 'Koushisei's Stone-rubbing Print Selection', but it is usually called here the Fan Series
Rakusan arranged the Fan Series prints into shared-subject groups typically consisting of one design in each of five different fan silhouette shapes.
Each of these groups of Fan Series designs are united by a corresponding polychrome 36 Series design which defines the subject.
Each shared-subject Fan Series group and its 36 Series design together comprise a theme (画題, gadai).
Rakusan did not include the Fan Series in his main sequence numbering.
Therefore, the original number used for each of the 36 Series prints has been modified to identify the Fan Series members of its theme.
The five different fan silhouette shapes have been here assigned arbitrary numbers 1 through 5.
To indicate a fan design these shape designations are added to the 36 Series number separated by a hyphen. In themes which contain duplicated fan shapes, one has been arbitrarily designated A and the other B.
104-5 indicates that this is a Fan Series design with fan shape 5 in the 104 Lily theme. Like all other designs in this series, 104-5 was only produced in a single print run, and few copies are currently documented.
Rakusan began creating the Fan Series
with a mixed set of designs whose signatures and seals suggest they were carved during the last half of 1933. Aside from a scattering of designs eventually used for later themes, the majority of these early designs were assembled into the first six themes of the series, including the 104 Lily
theme. The 36 Series
designs for all six were also completed and carved within that same short period.
The 104 Lily
theme is one of the many entirely regular themes represented by a complete fan quintet and a color woodblock print. Rakusan included at least two different kinds of lily in the 104 Lily
theme designs, and clearly the defining subject is just 'lily' rather than any particular species.
The Fan Series woodblock prints of the 104 Lily theme were distributed in early 1934 in installment two (of twelve).
The delivery documents for installment two remain to be discovered, but its delivery month was either February, March, or April 1934, and the woodblock prints would have been printed during the same month as the publication.
At least some of the lily designs in this theme were adapted from sketches originally created in the late 1920s during the planning of design 69 in the earlier 100 Series
The composition of 104-5 includes two lily stems, one with a fully opened blossom with leaves, and the other only with a closed bud. The open flower and its leaves in the foreground are shown silhouetted with internal lines - essentially a line drawing with the solid background darkened out. The bud behind and the stems are simple line drawings on that background. Apparently flying toward the flower is a honeybee. The bee is rendered in great detail, including blurring the wings to imply their motion. It is larger in scale to suggest that it is closer to the viewer and that the lilies are farther away. This design is not a true negative since the flower in life is a very pale color. This design is one of several early designs where Rakusan struggled with his ishizuri techniques.
The stylized, symmetrical holes in the leaves are a design mannerism copied directly from 伊藤若冲 Itou Jakuchuu (1715- 1800) whose work inspired the development of the entire series. (Jakuchu's influences on this series are the subject of a separate article not yet available online.)
The woodblock print of 104-5 was modeled closely on an actual-size original sumi sketch which although lost can be reconstructed by digitally reversing the image of the woodblock print:
104-5 as originally drawn (reconstruction)
Bamboo Lily, Lilium japonicum
, 笹百合, ささゆり, ササユリ, sasa-yuri
, lit. 'bamboo-grass lily', is the native species illustrated in 104-5 (and also in 104-1, 104-3, 104, and 69).
(The other two lily designs, 104-2 and 104-4, are native Tiger Lily, Lilium lancifolium
, 鬼百合, おにゆり, オニユリ, oni-yuri
, lit. 'demon-lily'.)
[In 69 Rakusan apparently accidentally uses the name of a different native species in the title-caption, Goldband Lily, Lilium auratum
山百合, やまゆり, ヤマユリ, yama-yuri
, lit. 'mountain lily'. There are currently no identifiable examples of Goldband Lily among Rakusan's artworks.]
The general name for any bee, wasp, or hornet is 蜂, はち, ハン, hachi.
Here Rakusan apparently has intended to show a honeybee, 蜜蜂, みつばち, ミツバチ, mitsubachi, (lit. honey-bee).