Currently Documented Edition Signature and Seal Markings:
||+ Seal A
||+ Seal B
[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 38 is original to Rakusan who published the print as the 38th 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 printing run of about two hundred copies of 38 was completed and the design published in November 1930 in installment nineteen (of fifty). (The exact printing and publication dates are unknown since no copies of the installment nineteen delivery documents have yet been located.) At least one (and perhaps two) additional full print runs were made prior to mid 1933 when the initial publications of the entire series were completed and edition I closed out. Most (approaching ninety percent) of the documented copies of 38 come from edition I printings.
38alt, a woodblock print of an alternate sketch of the same design subject was issued the month before the initial printing of 38 as a preview advertisement. 38alt is worthy of special note because it is the only alternate sketch in the series which does not include a bird.
Although the copy illustrated above is typical of edition I, the edition I background color is very difficult to capture faithfully in an image. In person it is a complex creamy yellow-tan, but it often photographs tinged greenish or even pinkish. (See also a different edtion I copy at left below.)
Rakusan considered 38 to be one of his best designs and included edition I copies in at least four formal presentation albums between 1940 and 1941. Since an edition I copy of 38 was still available for inclusion in a presentation album as late as August 1941 (see below), it is likely that an edition II reprinting before the studio closed that same year would not have been necessary, and to date no copies from an edition II have come to light.
Edition III: So few edition III copies of 38 have been documented that it is evident that only a single, small print run was made sometime between 1948 and 1955. As was not uncommon with edition III reprintings, Rakusan made several dramatic changes in color and technique compared to earlier printings. For example, the pale background of edition I was replaced with a much darker, warm tan color. In addition, Rakusan greatly increased the contrast, especially in the green leaves. The undersides of the leaves are much lighter and bokashi shading has been added, and the tops of the leaves are darker and also less nuanced.
Copies in Public Collections:
38 (edition I)
38 (edition III)
Edition I: Mead Art Museum at Amherst College, Amherst, MA, USA; (1942.44.e); from an August 1941 presentation album [illustrated online].
Edition I: Robert Frost Library (Soffer Ornithology Collection), Amherst College, Amherst, MA, USA; [not illustrated online].
In 38 Rakusan used two fancy varieties of hybrid Chrysanthemum.
In Japanese the general name used for all chrysanthemums is 菊, きく, キク, kiku
Here Rakusan uses the general name with the descriptor 大輪 , たいりん, タイリン, tai-rin
, which in this context means 'large-flowered'.
As such it refers to a general class of hybrid garden chrysanthemums rather than any particular named variety.
Today, most chrysanthemum varieties are considered forms of Chrysanthemum x morifolium
, (C. x grandiflorum
), which is derived from C. indicum
and related species.
Chestnut Munia (Black-headed Munia/Mannikin), Lonchura atricapilla, 金腹, きんぱら, キンパラ, kin-para, lit. 'gold-breast', is popular exotic cage or aviary bird in Japan. Current populations cover much of southern East Asia from Nepal to Taiwan and the Moluccas. It has been introduced in many areas including Hawaii.