Signature and Seal Markings:
||[no kanji signature]
||+ Seal L
||+ Rakusan Tsuchiya [cursive romaji signature]
[For illustration of seals, see the Seals article.]
This original painting is one of a handful of Rakusan artworks known only from black-and-white photographs.
The current location of the painting itself is unknown.
The SP2-0 painting was used as the model for a simple woodblock print SP2 which appears in two rather different color morphs, SP2-a and SP2-b.
(The history of the two SP2 woodblock print versions is detailed separately. See links below.)
The photograph illustrated above shows the entire SP2-0 painting and is accompanied by a note saying that the painting was created in black sumi ink.
Therefore, with the exception of the seal (which was likely in red ink), the original painting must have looked very much like this illustration.
A second photograph shows the partially enrolled painting being used as the model for the carving of one of the wooden printing blocks for SP2.
The way the painting is protected rolled up within a large sheet of stiff paper suggests that it was painted on silk:
Carving a printing block for SP2
SP2-0 is the only currently documented souvenir print prototype.
Although the SP2 woodblock print design came to be used as a souvenir print, that use may have been an afterthought.
SP2 may have been initially conceived as the first in a planned larger woodblock print series of simplified landscapes.
Unfortunately, the SP2-0 painting (and its woodblock prints) represent a unique effort, and the potential series never resulted. SP2-0 is actually the third version of a nearly identical view; each version smaller and simpler than the one before.
As in the earlier LK1-10 and LK2-9, in SP2-0 the Kinkakuji reflected in its mirror pond is viewed looking northwest from from the garden entrance toward the southwest corner of the building.
Rakusan had specifically arranged for photographing both of the SP2-0 painting and of the process of carving one of the wooden printing blocks derived from it.
This was intended as part of a demonstration of the preparations for woodblock print making and also for use in future advertising.
The creation of the painting and of its wooden printing blocks (and the taking of the photographs) are almost certainly closely contemporaneous.
There are no indications that the SP2-0 photographs (unlike many other Rakusan studio photographs) were staged later, especially since the wooden block in the second photograph has obviously never been used.
Although the exact dating of SP2-0 is uncertain, the prototype painting and the woodblock printing blocks were definitely created before World War II. The man shown carving the wooden block is one of Rakusan's brothers. After the Rakusan studio closed in 1941 Rakusan's brothers found other work, and they did not return to printmaking after the war. Therefore all the basic preparations had to be pre-war. However, dedication copies of either color morph of the SP2 woodblock print are not known until after the war circa 1947-1948, but pre-war printing of those images cannot be ruled out.
The Golden Pavilion, 金閣, kinkaku
, is one of the most famous buildings in Japan.
It is part of a Zen Buddhist temple complex in northwestern Kyoto which is properly called Rokuonji, 鹿苑寺, rokuon-ji
, 'deer garden temple'.
However, the building and complex are most commonly referred to as the Kinkakuji (or Kinkaku-ji), 金閣寺, kinkaku-ji
, 'gold(en) pavilion temple'.
The pavilion extends over a reflecting pond, 鏡湖池, kyouko-chi
, 'mirror pond', which includes ten small islands - some planted with small trees.
Rakusan was very fond of the Kinkakuji and no less than twelve different depictions of it have survived among his artworks. He often described the location of his home and studio as being nearby the Kinkakuji since both were in the same section of the city. His intent was to encourage visitors to that famous tourist attraction to make a stop at his studio on the same trip. The Kinkakuji in SP2-0 is the original structure built in 1397 which was destroyed by an arson fire in 1950. The current replica structure replaced it in 1955.