[modernly supplied title]


budou ni mamekogane

Grapes and Japanese Beetle


Assigned Number / 規定番号


Theme Identification / 画題識別

111 Grape Theme / 111 葡萄 (ブドウ) 画題

Signature and Seal Markings:
Edition I (only edition): 楽山篁子生 Raku-zan Kou-shi-sei + Seal B

[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. 111-2 is the Fan Series design with fan shape 2 in the 111 Grape theme. Like all other designs in this series, 111-2 was only produced in a single print run, and few copies are currently documented.

Theme History:
The 111 Grape theme is one of the many entirely regular themes represented by a complete fan quintet and a color woodblock print. Details of the distribution of the Fan Series prints in the 111 Grape theme are known from documents attached to the delivery folio for installment four (of twelve). The woodblock prints in installment four were printed during June 1934 and distributed June 25, 1934. The folio documents also provide the original Rakusan theme title, 葡萄, budou, 'grape', which is also used here.

The individual designs in the 111 Grape theme were completed in at least two stages. Two of the five fan designs have seal C which indicates a carving date during the first half of 1934. However, the other three fan designs (including 111-2) and the 36 Series design 111 all have seal B which indicates a later carving period closer to the time of publication. (The 111 Grape theme is unusual in its seal markings in having a majority of the designs with seal B.)

In early 1934 when Rakusan did a major rearrangement of his themes, all three themes with fruit subjects (what became themes 110, 111, and 112) ended up as installment four. (They are also consecutive with theme 109, the only vegetable subject theme.) Additionally, into each of the three themes in installment four Rakusan incorporated a single design taken from the same outside source, Ten Bamboo Studio Manual of Painting, 十竹斎書画譜, Jitchikusai Shogafu. In the 111 Grape theme, this outside design is one of the earlier seal C designs, 111-3, which clearly is in a style different from all of the others in the theme.

At least some of the grape designs were adapted from sketches originally created in the late 1920s during the planning of design 32 of the earlier 100 Series. In the title-caption for 32 Rakusan calls the grape illustrated there Wild Grape, 野葡萄 (which also can be written 野ぶどう, 野ブドウ, のぶどう, ノブドウ), no-budou, lit. 'field-grape'. However, the bird in 32 is an aviary specimen; and the grape, which is indistinguishable from those in the 111 Grape theme, is probably actually a cultivated vine. The bamboo pole supports shown in 111 and 111-2 confirm that those grapevines are certainly under cultivation.

The composition of 111-2 includes a portion of a grape vine supported by a horizontal bamboo pole. There is a single bunch of grapes at lower right mostly hidden by a leaf. Flying just below the end of the bamboo pole is a beetle. In these sorts of compositions with a flying insect Rakusan usually drew the insect larger to indicate it is closer to the viewer in order to provide the illusion of depth. All of the elements are carved so that the ishizuri version is an exact negative of the original model.

The woodblock print of 111-2 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:

111-2 as originally drawn (reconstruction)

Species Illustrated:
Grape, Vitis vinifera, 葡萄, ぶどう, ブドウ, budou, is a fruiting vine commonly grown in Japan.

Japanese Beetle, Popillia japonica, 豆黄金, まめこがね, マメコガネ, mame-kogane, lit. 'bean yellow-gold', is especially fond of eating grape vines. This species also occurs in a Rakusan painting (not yet posted online). The general name for any beetle in the family Scarabaeidae is 黄金虫, こがねむし, コガネムシ, kogane-mushi, lit. 'yellow-gold insect', describes the metallic iridescence characteristic of many species in the group, including Japanese beetle. 111-2 is the only Rakusan example of a flying beetle, and identifying the species would be difficult only from such a stylized drawing. However, since a similar beetle appears in 111-1 in this same theme, it is reasonable to assume that both beetles are intended as the same species. Details of the body shape in both designs, the striped body in 111-2, and details of the elytra patterning in 111-1 confirm the identification.

Related Designs:
Other designs in the 111 Grape theme:
111-1 111-3 111-4 111-5 111

Other designs with grapes:
32alt 32

Other designs with Japanese beetle: