Currently Documented Edition Signature and Seal Markings:
||+ Seal A
[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.]
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 26 is original to Rakusan who published the print as the 26th 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 first print run of about two hundred copies of 26 was completed and the design was published in May 1930 in installment thirteen (of fifty). (The exact printing and publication days are unknown since no copies of the installment thirteen delivery documents have yet been located.) One additional full print run of 26 might have been produced before mid 1933 when the series was completed and edition I printings ceased. Currently, all documented copies of 26 come from edition I printings, including the example at top. A city-name stamp on the edition I copy of 26 illustrated in the Foster booklet shows that edition I copies were still available for sale after the war. It is possible that later edition reprintings of 26 never became necessary.
26 is one of the very few Rakusan designs for which any printing details exist.
The Foster booklet reports that 26 required 130 printing impressions to complete.
26alt, a woodblock print of an alternate sketch of the same design subject was issued the month before the initial printing of 26 as a preview advertisement (see Related Designs below).
Other Foster Information: 26 is among the most familiar Rakusan designs because of Walter Foster.
In addition to marketing original Rakusan woodblock prints of 26 from Japan, Foster also sold two grades of reproductions which he had machine-printed in the USA.
Both reproduction versions were created from the same original model, an edition I copy of 26 in Foster's personal collection.
One version is a fine art reproduction produced for individual sale, and the other appears as page 25 of the Foster booklet.
The fine art reproduction was produced to very high standards of photolithography on good quality, heavy matte paper; and the inks were carefully color-matched to those of the original woodblock print.
Because of this attention to detail, it was relatively expensive, few copies were sold, and they are seldom encountered today.
Instead, what are mostly offered for sale as reproductions of 26 are actually copies of page 25 cut from the Foster booklet.
Regrettably, the booklet was inexpensively and inexactly machine-printed on semi-gloss paper, and its illustration colors are not true to the original.
The booklet illustration has an overall yellowish tinge, and the original background is a pale, creamy beige not yellow.
Both reproduction versions are of similar size (listed as 9" x 12"); therefore they are significantly smaller than the original woodblock print (listed as 13" x 18").
(Both reproductions actually maintain the unique proportions of the original woodblock print; so the advertised dimensions are only rough approximations.)
Initially, Foster sold original woodblock prints of 26 for $25, fine art reproductions for $3, and the entire booklet (with 27 different designs) for $1.
Because the Foster booklet was printed in great numbers and remains widely available today, it is usually less expensive to buy the entire booklet than a single page reproduction.
Because Foster could not read Rakusan's Japanese title-captions, he made up ones of his own to use in the booklet. Here he called 26 "Chickens".
[For additional general information on Foster, the booklet, or the fine art reproductions, see the Foster article.]
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 26, and the related designs linked below, Rakusan illustrates a large, fully-double, red and white bicolor flower, of an unidentified hybrid variety.
In the title-caption 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 season mentioned here, and associations with warm weather insects in other designs, this camellia variety is the latest blooming of the camellias Rakusan chose.
Although he had access to many varieties of camellias, Rakusan depicted only three different kinds in his woodblock prints, and examples of each appear in the 100 Series.
The other two kinds of Rakusan camellias are at numbers 5 and 43, which in turn link to their own additional related designs.
Japanese Bantam Chicken, Gallus gallus var., 矮鶏, ちゃぼ, チャボ, cha-bo, lit. 'short chicken', is one of the varieties of the domestic chicken which was bred in Japan.
The chicken is not native to Japan but was an ancient domestic import.
In 26 Rakusan shows a male and a female bird, presumably indicating a mated pair.