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Landscapes: Kyoto 3 (LK3 Paintings)

Towards the end of 1935 Rakusan Rakusan had still been unable to obtain backing for his next double-oban woodblock print series. He therefore began to create smaller and simpler versions of some of his landscape paintings in hopes of funding a more limited series. Seeing these, Rakusan friend and patron, Mr. Masao Morikawa, commissioned Rakusan to produce a small woodblock print suitable for the cover of a winter holiday greeting card. The resulting Kinkakuji winter card WC1 was sent out for Christmas and New Year greetings for the winter of 1935-1936. Rakusan was to produce at least six more winter cards for Morikawa before World War II.

Only one of the prototype paintings for these winter cards has been located, and it provides a link to a series of small landscape paintings depicting Kyoto landmarks in winter. This series is called here Landscapes: Kyoto 3 (LK3). During the selection process for winter card designs Rakusan produced a small number of painting sketches from which Morikawa would select a design. These sketches were executed on paper of roughly chuban size using a limited palette of black, brown, blue, and white pigments. The selected design would be adapted and recreated in polychrome and ultimately used as the model for the smaller woodblock print version. Ten of the twelve LK3 series paintings represent designs not chosen to be made into winter cards.

Morikawa was the Secretary to the President of Doshisha University, and for the winter of 1936-1937 he requested and ultimately selected a design showing a university building. This eleventh painting LK3-11 was modified to give more prominence to the building, and was recast in polychrome. The resultant twelfth painting LK3-12 was used as the model for the reduced size 1936 winter card print WC2 (see following section). Because WC2 is the only winter card in a horizontal format, it is suggested that all of the similarly horizontal LK3 paintings were created during that same 1936 preparation period.

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LK3-12 (WC2-0)

The Friend Peace House Winter Card

The 1936 winter card WC2 was produced from the original painting LK3-12. Because that painting is simultaneously both a member of its painting series, and also the prototype for a woodblock print, it has two numbers. In its role as a woodblock print model it takes its other numbering from its woodblock print, WC2-0.

WC2 was sent out in two versions in 1936. The original design was selected by Morikawa for use by the president of Doshisha University for whom Morikawa worked. For his own personal use Morikawa adapted the design by adding additional text within the image area. There is no indication that WC2 had any later reprintings.

All of the winter card woodblock prints are presented together elsewhere (follow link to ).

[Click on the thumbnail images to bring up enlargements and design details.]

WC2-0 (LK3-12)

WC2 (Yuasa version)

WC2 (Morikawa version)

© 2012 (revised 2015, 2016) Dr Michael J P Nichols

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