Edition I, Morph 111 (a)
Edition I, Morph 111 (b)

[modernly supplied title]


budou ni nihonamagaeru

Grapes and Japanese Tree-frog


Original Number / 原番号


Theme Identification / 画題識別

111 Grape Theme
111 葡萄(ブドウ)画題

Currently Documented Edition Signature and Seal Markings:
Edition I: 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. For edition and dating characteristics applicable to the entire series, see the Editions article.]

Print History:
Indentification of this design as number 111 is original to Rakusan who designated this woodblock print as the 111th design published in his main sequence. However, 111 is actually the eleventh of thirty-six woodblock prints in Rakusan's second main sequence series, 篁子生画選, Koushisei Gasen, lit. 'Koushisei's Print Selection' (usually called here the 36 Series).

The woodblock print of 111 was adapted from an actual-size original painting on silk. All of the original prototype paintings for this series are currently in a single private collection.
[Images of this painting 111-0 will eventually be posted here.]

Like most 36 Series designs 111 has the same signature and seal combination on every copy. Therefore, for 111 only a single extended edition I (which includes potential reprintings both before and after World War II) can be distinguished. It is usually only possible to date an individual loose print of 111 with edition I markings by listing approximate potential ranges of 1934-1941 and 1948-1955.

111 is one of several Rakusan designs where noticeably different ink colors and techniques have been used for different print runs within the same edition. Although there is considerable individual variation, copies of 111 can be identified as one of two distinct color morphs, 111 (a) or 111 (b). The copies illustrated above are typical examples of each of these color morphs and come from dated sales only a few months apart in 1935-1936. Both illustrated copies are in the same pristine condition in the same private collection and were photographed at the same time and in the same way. The 111 (a) morph is characterized by darker, more saturated hues - note especially the darker underside of the leaf at the top center and the diagnostic very deep purple highlights on the grapes. The 111 (b) morph is paler and bluer throughout and with generally less contrast, and the very deep purple hue is absent. It is important to emphasize that these color differences are original and deliberate, and that examples of 111 (b) are not just faded copies of 111 (a). Currently more than twice as many copies of 111 (a) have been documented compared to the numbers of 111 (b).

The earliest 36 Series prints were delivered tipped into recessed wells of presentation sheets embossed in their lower margins with the series title. Because all early edition I prints once had these presentation sheets, a copy which retains its presentation sheet must have been printed during the 1930s. Copies with presentation sheets of both 111 (a) and 111 (b) have been documented (including each of the examples illustrated here). After his supply of presentation sheets was exhausted, Rakusan distributed subsequently reprinted copies loose or tipped onto plain paper. A limited number of leftover earlier-printed copies of some designs on presentation sheets were still being distributed shortly after World War II, but by then most designs were only available as loose sheets. However, absence of presentation sheets is not diagnostic of later printings because many early prints have subsequently been detached from theirs.

Theme History:
The Rakusan project which produced 篁子生画選, Koushisei Gasen, resulted in two related series of woodblock prints. Each print of the 36 Series is intimately connected to a group of prints with the same subjects in the Fan Series. Together these subject-related prints in the two series constitute a theme. Each theme typically consists of a quintet of monochrome Fan Series designs (one design in each of the five fan shapes), plus one polychrome, 36 Series design which illustrates and defines the theme subject. The theme is labeled here by the original Rakusan number of its 36 Series design followed by the subject. 111 is the 36 Series design of the 111 Grape theme.

The 111 Grape theme is one of the many entirely regular themes represented by a complete fan quintet and a color woodblock print. Two of the five Fan Series designs have seal C which indicates carving dates between the last months of 1933 and the end of the first quarter of 1934. However, the 36 Series design 111 and the other three Fan Series designs all have seal B which indicates a later carving period closer to the time of publication. (The 111 Grape theme is unusual in having seal B on a majority of its designs.)

Rakusan arranged all three themes with fruit subjects (110-112) into installment four. (They are also consecutive with the only theme with a vegetable subject, 109.) 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 borrowed 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.

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 the original title of the 36 Series design 111 published at the same time.

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.

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

Japanese Tree-frog, Hyla japonica, 日本雨蛙, にほんあまがえる, ニホンアマガエル, nihon ama-gaeru, lit. 'Japanese rain-frog', is a very small Japanese endemic species. From the tiny size alone, all of Rakusan's tree frogs are recognizable as this species, and the identification is confirmed by the skin markings as well.

Related Designs:
Other designs in the 111 Grape theme:
111-1 111-2 111-3 111-4 111-5

Other designs with grapes:
32alt 32

Other designs with tree-frogs (or other tiny frogs):
109-2 110-3 114-1 128-2