Currently Documented Edition Signature and Seal Markings:
||+ Seal A
||[watermark II] ||楽山篁子生
||+ Seal B
||+ 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 61 is original to Rakusan who published the print as the 61st 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'. Although 61 was printed in two editions, aside from the attribution markings all of the copies are very similar in appearance.
Edition I: Initial edition I publication of 61 was in November 1931 (or perhaps slightly later) in installment thirty-one (of fifty). This first print run of about two hundred copies was supplemented by at least one additional edition I print run before initial publication of the entire series was completed in mid 1933, and edition I printings ceased. About two thirds of the documented copies of 61 come from edition I. The example copy above is typical of edition I.
In 1940 Rakusan received an important commission for three (or possibly four) identical presentation albums to be bestowed as part of the ceremonies for the signing of the Tripartite Pact in the autumn of 1940. For these albums Rakusan was determined to use his best available edition I designs. Inclusion of 61 indicates not only Rakusan's approval of the quality of this design, but also confirms that multiple edition I copies of 61 were still available for distribution at that late date.
Edition II: Because Rakusan was not in the habit of reprinting until stocks of particular designs were very low or had run out entirely, the first (and likely only) reprinting of edition II copies of 61 is constrained to within a very short period between the end of 1940 and the wartime closure of the Rakusan studio in 1941. This edition II reprinting is anomalous because two differently watermarked papers were used. Some copies are on the usual and expected edition II watermark paper, and others are on leftover edition I watermark paper.
By those last few months Rakusan had already run out of many of his printing materials. Therefore it is entirely possible that if a temporary shortage of edition II watermark paper was encountered, someone in the studio deliberately printed the rest of the print run of edition II of 61 on leftover edition I watermark paper. The shortage must have only been temporary since postwar reprinting of design 67 on leftover edition II watermark paper demonstrates that at least by the 1941 closure of the studio there were still unused supplies of paper with the edition II watermark. Some of the edition II reprinting of 61 was done on the wrong side of the edition I paper relative to the watermark which raises the possibility that the use of the edition I paper could simply be another careless error. Regardless of the paper used, these edition II copies of 61 have the same later edition signature and seal combination and therefore cannot be mistaken for edition I copies. Currently, edition II copies represent about one third of the documented copies of 61.
Because he had a sufficient supply from this very late printing, Rakusan apparently did not reprint 61 after the war in edition III. There is also currently no evidence of sales of 61 through Walter Foster.
Copies in Public Collections:
Edition I: Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, Massachusetts, USA; (1952) 52.117 [not illustrated online].
Edition I: Carnegie Museum of Art, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, USA; (1990) 90.18.8 [illustrated online]
Tea, Camellia (Thea) sinensis
, 茶, cha
, is an originally exotic shrub which is now a common agricultural crop in Japan.
Its leaves are harvested to make various kinds of tea.
The rows of closely trimmed plants are often supported by bamboo stakes as shown here.
The descriptor (乃) 花 [now (の) 花], (no) hana
, means 'flowers; in flower'.
Tea plants typically flower in winter.
Daurian Redstart, Phoenicurus auroreus, 尉鶲, 常鶲, 上鶲, じょうびたき, ジョウビタキ, jou-bitaki, is a native Japanese species.
The original spelling of the name is likely to have been 尉鶲, jou-bitaki, lit. 'oldman flycatcher', because of the gray top of the head of the male bird. The bird on the left is the more brightly colored male, and the bird on the right is a female.
Rakusan here called the birds simply 鶲, hitaki, 'flycatcher', which is a general name used for many similar birds, including the redstarts.