Currently Documented Edition Signature and Seal Markings:
||+ 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.]
Indentification of this design as number 114 is original to Rakusan who designated this woodblock print as the 114th design published in his main sequence.
However, 114 is actually the fourteenth 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 114 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 114-0 will eventually be posted here.]
Like most 36 Series designs 114 has the same signature and seal combination on every copy.
Therefore, for 114 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 114 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 for a diagonal crease).
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.
114 is the 36 Series
design of the 114 Ivy
The 114 Ivy theme is one of the many entirely regular themes represented by a complete fan quintet and a color woodblock print. Three 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 114 and the other two Fan Series designs have seal B which indicates a later carving period closer to the time of publication.
The Fan Series and the 36 Series prints of the 114 Ivy theme were distributed in mid 1934 in installment five (of twelve).
The delivery documents for installment five remain to be discovered, but its delivery month was either July or August 1934. The woodblock prints would have been printed earlier in the same month as their distribution.
In the preview announcement on the installment four folio, Rakusan used 蔦, tsuta, 'ivy' as the title for this theme, and it would also have been the original title of its 36 Series design 114.
At least some of these ivy designs were adapted from sketches originally created in the late 1920s for design 17 of the earlier 100 Series (see below).
Japanese Ivy (Japanese Creeper, Boston Ivy, Grape Ivy), Parthenocissus tricuspidata
, 蔦, つた, ツタ, tsuta
, is a familiar Asian native vine now widely planted around the world.
Although all of the 114 Ivy
theme designs may be this species, some representations are so sketchy that they could equally represent other species of ivy.
Siberian Bluechat/ Bluetail (Red-flanked Bluetail, Orange-flanked Bushrobin), Tarsiger cyanurus, 瑠璃鶲, るりびたき, ルリビタキ, ruri-bitaki, lit. 'lapis lazuli-flycatcher', is a native Japanese bird.
The characteristic rusty-orange flank of the bluechat is present in the original painting 114-0, but was inexplicably omitted in adapting the woodblock print 114.
[In 16 Rakusan used this same name for an illustration which is not a close match for this species.
There the male bird has an orange rump (it should be blue), and on the bluechat there is no white patch on the wing (the wings should be evenly blue - which can appear blackish in poor light).
It is unclear what bird is actually depicted at 16.]