寒牡丹に鷦鷯 (冬) [on the print*]

kan botan ni misosazai (fuyu)

Winter-blooming Tree-peonies and Wren (Winter)

寒牡丹に鷦鷯 (冬の部) [on the folios*]

kan botan ni misosazai (fuyu no bu)

Winter-blooming Tree-peonies and Wren (Winter Division)

寒牡丹にミソサザイ (冬)

[*Rakusan included の部, no bu, 'division', only on the pre-printed folio labels and omitted it in the final versions of the title-captions on the woodblock prints.]


Original Number

11


ADDITIONAL NOTES FOR THIS DESIGN
Currently Documented Edition Signature and Seal Markings:
Edition I: 楽山居 Raku-zan Kyo + Seal G
Edition II: 楽山篁子生 Raku-zan Kou-shi-sei + Seal F

[For illustration of seals listed by seal code letter, see the Seals article. For edition characteristics applicable to this series as a whole, see the Edition article.]

Design History:
This woodblock print was produced from an original painting on silk dating from the late 1920s whose current location is unknown. The indentification of this design as number 11 is original to Rakusan who published the print as the 11th design in his series of one hundred woodblock prints called 楽山花鳥畫譜, Rakuzan Kachou Gafu, lit. 'Rakusan's Flower and Bird Print Series'.

Edition I: The details of the initial printing of 11 are known precisely because copies of the delivery documents for installments five and six have survived. The design was first announced as upcoming in the documents for installment five sent out on September 21, 1929, and 11alt, a woodblock print of an alternate sketch of the same design subject, was included as a preview advertisement. The first printing run of about two hundred copies of 11 was completed October 24, 1929, and the publication date was October 25, 1929 in installment six (of fifty). At least one additional full print run of edition I of 11 was produced before mid 1933 when the series was completed and edition I printing ceased. Half of all documented copies of 11 come from edition I printings, including the different example copies illustrated at top and below left.

Edition II: 11 was reprinted in edition II between 1936 and 1941 in numbers roughly equivalent to what had been printed in edition I. Half of all documented copies of 11 come from edition II printings, including the example copy illustrated at below right. Currently, no examples of edition III printings are known, and with the large number of edition II copies printed it is possible that no postwar reprinting of 11 was ever necessary.

Printing of 11 in both editions include numerous examples of bokashi shading, especially in the leaves and flower buds. As a result, there is significant individual variation among copies both within and across the editions. Other than the edition diagnostic signature and seal combination at upper right, the most clearly distinguishing edition difference is the band of grayish bokashi along the top of the background in edition I which is lacking in edition II.

11 (edition I) 11 (edition II)

Species Illustrated:
Winter-blooming Tree-peony, Paeonia suffruticosa var. hiberniflora, 寒牡丹 kan-botan or 冬牡丹 fuyu-botan , both lit. 'winter-treepeony' is the earliest blooming variety of tree-peony and typically begins to bloom before the winter snow has melted. Therefore, to protect the new growth the plants are customarily staked and were often protected from the weight of the snow by a woven grass mat as a kind of open tent structure. In this illustration the bamboo stakes, rope ties, and grass mat (lower left) are all included in the composition. [Rakusan also illustrated elsewhere at least one other kind of later-blooming tree-peony which defines a similar constellation of designs, including 10, the immediately preceding design in this series.]

Eurasian House Wren (or Winter Wren), Trogolodytes troglodytes, 鷦鷯, みそさざい, ミソサザイ, misosazai, paired with the winter-blooming tree-peony is a traditional Japanese symbol of the winter season. It was also one of Rakusan's favorite subjects and he illustrated it in at least five surviving designs.


Related Designs:
Other designs with both winter-blooming tree-peony and wren:
11alt 117-5 117

Other designs with winter-blooming tree-peony (but not wren):
117-1 117-2 117-3 117-4