Signature and Seal Markings:
|Edition I (only edition):
||+ Seal R
This design 112-3 is the first documented occurrence of seal R, a rare minor seal whose carving period has yet to be determined.
[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.
112-3 is the Fan Series design with fan shape 3 in the 112 Pomegranate theme.
Like all other designs in this series, 112-3 was only produced in a single print run, and few copies are currently documented.
The 112 Pomegranate
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 112 Pomegranate
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, 柘榴, zakuro
, 'pomegranate', which is also used here.
The individual designs in the 112 Pomegranate theme were completed in at least two stages.
Two of the five fan designs and the 36 Series design 112 have seal C which indicates a carving date during the first half of 1934.
112-3 has seal R which is a rare minor seal whose carving period has yet to be established.
The other two fan designs have seal B which indicates a later carving period closer to the time of publication.
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.
Here abbreviated TBS, this a very famous, historic, and influential design book which was first printed in China in the 17th century.
TBS has been reproduced and reprinted in both China and Japan many times since, and
Rakusan would likely have used one of the later Japanese monochrome versions.
In the 112 Pomegranate theme, this outside design is one of the later seal B designs, 112-4, part of which is in a style different from all of the others in the theme.
At least some pomegranate designs were adapted from sketches originally created in the late 1920s during the planning of designs 18 and 78 of the earlier 100 Series (see below).
The composition of 112-3 includes a a forking pomegranate branch with a few leaves, an immature fruit, and a fully mature fruit which has split open to reveal the seeds, The essentially linear technique used in rendering the pomegranate displays equally well in the ishizuri version or the original. However, the areas of dark and light on the bird are correct only in the original, and the ishizuri version is a true negative.
The woodblock print of 112-3 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:
112-3 as originally drawn (reconstruction)
Pomegranate, Punica granatum,
柘榴, 石榴, 若榴, ざくろ, ザクロ, zakuro
, is an originally exotic deciduous shrub.
In Japan it has been extensively hybridized and is widely grown for its large edible fruit, ornamental flowers, and decorative bark which make it popular also as a bonsai subject.
Rakusan most often illustrates the mature fruit which has split open as the rind dried, as it has in 112.
However, in his various other prints he shows all stages of development from the blossoms on.
Varied Tit, Parus varius, 山雀, やまがら, ヤマガラ, yama-gara, lit. 'mountain tit', is a familiar native species.
Rakusan was fond of portraying these active little birds, and they occur in several different designs.