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 136 is original to Rakusan who designated this woodblock print as the 136th design published in his main sequence.
However, 136 is actually the thirty-sixth and last 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
136 is also the final design in the main sequence of numbers assigned by Rakusan.
The woodblock print of 136 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 136-0 will eventually be posted here.]
Like most 36 Series designs 136 has the same signature and seal combination on every copy.
Therefore, for 136 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 136 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.
136 is the 36 Series
design of the 136 Hollyhock
The 136 Hollyhock theme is one of the many entirely regular themes represented by a complete fan quintet and a color woodblock print. All 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 136 has seal B which indicates a later carving period closer to the time of publication.
The Fan Series and 36 Series prints of the 136 Hollyhock theme were distributed in early 1935 in installment twelve (of twelve), making this theme the last one in both series.
The delivery documents for installment twelve remain to be discovered. The series as originally announced would have seen this final installment published in December 1934. However, with documented delays the earliest month it could actually have been delivered is March 1935, and it may well have been even further delayed. Each of the woodblock prints in this theme would have been printed in the same month as their distribution.
At least some of the hollyhock designs in this theme were adapted from sketches originally created in the late 1920s during the planning of design 13 in the earlier 100 Series (see below).
Copies in Public Collections:
Edition I: Honolulu Museum of Art, Honolulu, HI, USA; (1994) 25641 [illustrated online].
Hollyhock, Alcea (Althaea) rosea
, 立(ち)葵, たちあおい, タチアオイ, tachi-aoi
, lit. 'erect mallow', is a familiar garden plant in Japan and around the world.
Hollyhock was first imported into Japan from China hundreds of years ago, and the plant became important in Japanese cultural life.
Many color variations and flower forms have been developed by Japanese breeders.
Rakusan used several kinds of hollyhocks in his artworks.
Japanese Bush Warbler (Japanese Nightingale), Cettia diphone, 鴬, うぐいす, ウグイス, uguisu,
is a common native bird beloved for its sweet song.
It is frequently depicted in art, and it has many literary and poetic names.
Rakusan used more than one name for this species.
(For a fuller discussion of the Bush Warbler names see 4 in the 100 Series.)