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 129 is original to Rakusan who designated this woodblock print as the 129th design published in his main sequence.
However, 129 is actually the twenty-ninth 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 129 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 129-0 will eventually be posted here.]
Like most 36 Series designs 129 has the same signature and seal combination on every copy.
Therefore, for 129 only a single extended edition I (which includes reprintings both before and after World War II) can be distinguished.
It is usually only possible to date an individual loose print of 129 with edition I markings by listing approximate potential ranges of 1935-1941 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 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.
129 is the 36 Series
design of the 129 Double Camellia
The 129 Double Camellia theme is one of the many entirely regular themes represented by a complete fan quintet and a color woodblock print. 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.
Despite the early completion of those wooden blocks, Rakusan delayed printing and distribution until the following year. The 129 Double Camellia theme was eventually grouped with other spring season themes near the end of the series. The 36 Series design 129 and the remaining three Fan Series designs have seal B which indicates a later carving period closer to the time of publication.
The Fan Series and 36 Series prints of the 129 Double Camellia theme were distributed in early 1935 in installment ten (of twelve), but the delivery documents for installment ten remain to be discovered. The series as originally announced would have seen this installment published in October 1934. However, with documented delays the earliest month it could actually have been delivered is January 1935, and it may well have been even further delayed. The woodblock prints would have been printed in the same month as their publication.
At least some of the double camellia designs in this theme were adapted from sketches originally created in the late 1920s during the planning of design 26 in the earlier 100 Series (see below). Because the delivery documents have not been located, the original theme title and the title of the 36 Series design 129 remain unknown. Therefore the these have been adapted from the title-caption Rakusan used on 26.
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 species which still grows wild as well as in gardens.
For 129 and the other designs in the 129 Double Camellia
theme, and 26 in the 100 Series
, Rakusan illustrates a large, fully-double, red and white bicolor flower, of an unidentified hybrid variety. In all of the designs the leaves have an unhealthy looking mottling which appears characteristic of this particular variety
In the title-caption for 26 Rakusan uses the descriptor 八重, yae
, lit. 'eight-fold', which is a conventional way of describing flowers with multiple ranks of petals, i.e. a double flower.
Therefore, what Rakusan used is a name for a general type of bloom and not the name of any particular variety.
From the mid spring season mentioned at 26, and associations with warm weather insects in other designs in this theme, this camellia variety is the latest blooming of the camellias that Rakusan illustrates.
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 126, which in turn link to their own additional related designs.