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 116 is original to Rakusan who designated this woodblock print as the 116th design published in his main sequence.
However, 116 is actually the sixteenth 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 116 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 116-0 will eventually be posted here.]
Like most 36 Series designs 116 has the same signature and seal combination on every copy.
Therefore, for 116 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 116 with edition I markings by listing approximate potential ranges of 1934-1941 and 1948-1955.
The copy illustrated above is typical of edition I.
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.
116 is the 36 Series
design of the 116 Sasanqua Camellia and Winterberry
The 116 Sasanqua Camellia and Winterberry 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 116 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 designs of the 116 Sasanqua Camellia and Winterberry theme were printed during September 1934 and were distributed September 15, 1934 as installment six (of twelve). On the Fan Series delivery documents Rakusan used the theme subject title 山茶花に梅もどき, sazanka ni umemodoki, 'sasanqua camellia and winterberry' which is actually the title of 36 Series design 116 published at the same time.
The 116 Sasanqua Camellia and Winterberry theme is the second of several compound-subject themes.
Both thematic elements of a compound theme always appear in its 36 Series design.
However, the individual Fan Series designs may have both, or one, or the other.
Here only sasanqua camellia is in 116-1, 116-3, and 116-4; only winterberry in 116-2 and 116-5; and both sasanqua camellia and winterberry appear together only only in the 36 Series design 116, the only design uniting the two groups.
Some of the sasanqua camellia and winterberry designs were adapted from sketches originally created in the late 1920s for sasanqua camellia design 5 and for winterberry design 24 of the earlier 100 Series.
116 is especially close to 5 since both designs include the not only the same variety of camellia but also has flowers in the same colors.
Sasanqua Camellia, Camellia sasanqua
, is a winter-blooming species of camellia native to Japan which has been extensively selected and hybridized for color and for flower form.
In Japanese it does not use the regular name for other camellias but has its own name, 山茶花, さざんか, サザンカ, sazanka
This Japanese name is the source of both the Latin species name and the English name, sasanqua
The form Rakusan selected for 5, 116, 116-1, 116-3, and 116-4, is a medium-sized, open flower of pink-blushed white, a type which is often informally called 'Apple Blossom' in English.
Although he had access to many varieties of camellias, Rakusan depicted only three different kinds in his woodblock prints, and examples each appear in the 36 Series.
The other two kinds of Rakusan camellias are at numbers 126 and 129, which in turn link to their own additional related designs.
Japanese Winterberry, Ilex serrata var. sieboldii, 梅擬, うめもどき, ウメモドキ, ume-modoki, lit. 'pseudo-plum', is a kind of deciduous native holly.
In the title-caption for 24 Rakusan uses the descriptor 大粒, oo-tsubu, lit. 'large-berry', apparently with the intention of indicating a kind of winterberry.
That varietal name is not in current usage and the illustration is consistent with the usual subspecies.