Currently Documented Edition Signature and Seal Markings:
||+ Seal C [reddish black]
||+ Seal C [bright red]
[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 126 is original to Rakusan who designated this woodblock print as the 126th design published in his main sequence.
However, 126 is actually the twenty-sixth 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 126 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 126-0 will eventually be posted here.]
Like most 36 Series designs 126 has the same signature and seal combination on every copy. However, 126 is to date unique in distinguishing edition I and edition II by changing the color of the seal. The edition I seal is very dark reddish black, and the edition II seal is bright red. There are also other color changes with edition II appearing paler throughout.
It is usually only possible to date an individual loose print of 126 by listing approximate potential ranges of 1935-1941 for edition I and 1948-1955 for edition II.
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 typically 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.
126 is the 36 Series
design of the 126 Wild Camellia
The 126 Wild Camellia theme is one of the many entirely regular themes represented by a complete fan quintet and a color woodblock print.
126 and 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 other two Fan Series designs have seal B which indicates a later carving period closer to the time of publication.
The 126 Wild Camellia theme was eventually grouped with other winter season themes for installment nine. Rakusan deliberately repositioned 126 immediately after 125, the only other 36 Series design with falling snow.
In order to suggest the gloomy weather of a snowstorm, Rakusan has deliberately shifted many of the colors in 126.
The overall background color is light gray, and the falling snow is a darker shade of gray.
The glossy camellia leaves have been printed as near black instead of the actual dark green.
Use of true white has been reserved for the bird, highlights on the red flower, and speckles of snow on the leaves.
Unlike in 125 the snow was not all supposed to be white, and the colors described for 126 are the original ones.
On the delivery folio for installment eight of the Fan Series in November 1934, Rakusan announced theme 126 as due to appear in installment nine in the following month, December 1934.
However, it is not known if the installment nine was actually distributed in that month or was delayed. The woodblock prints would have been printed during the same month as their distribution.
On the folio Rakusan used the theme title 籔椿, yabu-tsubaki, 'wild camellia' (lit. 'thicket camellia') which was also the original title of 36 Series design 126.
At least some of the wild camellia designs in this theme were adapted from sketches originally created in the late 1920s during the planning of design 43 in the earlier 100 Series (see below).
Japanese Camellia, Camellia japonica
, 椿, つばき, ツバキ, tsubaki
, has been extensively hybridized and selected to modify its flower form, habit, and blooming time.
As the name implies, it is a Japanese native which still grows wild as well as in gardens.
The original form is winter-blooming and often flowers covered in snow.
For 43alt, 43, 126, and the related 36 Series
designs shown below, Rakusan illustrates a small, bell-shaped flower of brilliant red which encloses a brush-like cluster of yellow stamens, which is the most common wild form.
Rakusan calls this variety 籔椿, やぶつばき, ヤブツバキ, yabu-tsubaki
, lit. 'thicket camellia', and it appears in more artworks than any other kind of camellia.
It may also be called 山椿, やまつばき,ヤマツバキ, yama-tsubaki
, lit. 'mountain camellia'.
Neither of these names are varietal names but instead mean 'wild camellia'.
, is also used as a general name for any camellia.
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 116 and 129, which in turn link to their own additional related designs.
Short-tailed Bush Warbler ( or Asian Stubtail), Urosphena (Cettia) squameiceps, 薮雨 ~ 薮鮫, やぶさめ, ヤブサメ, yabu-same, is a Japanese native with variable plumage.
The bird shown in 126 is somewhat stylized and this identification is tentative only.