Currently Documented Edition Signature and Seal Markings:
||+ Seal C
||[the first occurrence of seal C in edition I of the main sequence]
[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.]
Indentification of this design as number 112 is original to Rakusan who designated this woodblock print as the 112th design published in his main sequence.
However, 112 is actually the twelfth 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 112 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 112-0 will eventually be posted here.]
Like most 36 Series designs 112 has the same signature and seal combination on every copy.
Therefore, for 112 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 112 with edition I markings by listing approximate potential ranges of 1934-1941 and 1948-1955.
The copy illustrated above is typical of edition I (except that it has a later-added city-name stamp in the upper left corner).
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.
After his supply of presentation sheets was exhausted, Rakusan distributed subsequently-reprinted copies loose.
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.
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 consists of a quintet of monochrome Fan Series
designs (one design in each of the five fan shapes), plus one polychrome,
design which illustrates the theme subject.
The theme is labeled here by the original Rakusan number of its 36 Series
design followed by the subject.
112 is the 36 Series
design of the 112 Pomegranate
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 was also the original title of 36 Series design 112 published at the same time.
The individual designs in the 112 Pomegranate theme were completed in at least two stages.
112 and 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.
Another fan design (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.
When Rakusan arranged the publication order 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 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).
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.
Wasps and bees share the same name in Japanese, 蜂, はち, ハチ, hachi.
[Rakusan insects in color are usually identifiable at least to the genus level. Identification of this wasp is in process.]