Currently Documented Edition Signature and Seal Markings:
||+ Seal A
||+ Seal F
||+ 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.]
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 66 is original to Rakusan who published the print as the 66th 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: Initial printing and publication of about two hundred edition I copies of 66 was in January 1932 (or perhaps slightly later) in installment thirty-three (of fifty). It is unclear whether or not an additional full edition I reprinting might have been made before mid 1933 when the series was completed and and all edition I printing ceased. About half of the documented copies of 66 come from edition I printings, including the two different example copies illustrated at top and and below left.
Edition II: 66 was reprinted in edition II sometime between 1936 and 1941 in numbers equivalent to the edition I printings. Edition II copies of 66 therefore also constitute about half of the documented copies. All currently documented edition II copies have city-name stamps in the lower right corner within the image area, including the Foster booklet copy and the different example illustrated below center. It is extremely unusual for so many copies of one design to indicate intended sales circa 1947. One possible explanation is that Foster purchased a bulk lot of 66 (for his own collection and for resale) on an early visit to Rakusan before they had arranged for Rakusan to add his cursive romaji signature to prints intended for sale through Foster.
There is also a single exceptional edition II copy of 66 on which Rakusan has included secondary handwritten addenda within the bottom margin. This includes a block printing rendition in English of his Japanese title-caption (omitting the season designation): "Kaido (like single pink cherry blossoms) and a large White Peacock", and a Rakusan romaji signature in a different cursive style from signatures typically applied within the image area for Foster sales.
66 is one of the very few Rakusan designs for which any printing details exist.
The Foster booklet reports that 66 required 130 printing impressions to complete.
Edition III: An isolated copy of 66 with a secondary Foster era Rakusan cursive romaji signature is illustrated at right below. It may represent a single, very small, edition III reprinting sometime between 1948 and 1955. Unfortunately, the margins of this copy have been completely cut away, and the edition watermark is unrecoverable. It therefore remains possible that this example could be an earlier edition II copy from a different subsequent Foster purchase.
|66 (edition I)
||66 (edition II)
||66 (edition III)
Unlike many designs in this series all versions of 66 used closely similar ink colors and techniques. Therefore the editions are not safely separable from those criteria alone. The three images above were photographed under different lighting conditions, and any perceived differences may not be reliable for comparison. It should be noted that Rakusan did not consider gauffrage (blind printing) texturing to be a proper technique. Instead he always sought to capture those effects using ink colors and bokashi shading alone, as he did here in 66.
Other Foster Information: 66 is among the most familiar Rakusan designs because of Walter Foster.
In addition to marketing original Rakusan woodblock prints of 66 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 II copy of 66 in Foster's personal collection.
One version is a fine art reproduction produced for individual sale, and the other appears as page 13 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 66 are actually copies of page 13 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.
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 66 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 66 "White Peacock".
[For additional general information on Foster, the booklet, or the fine art reproductions, see the Foster article.]
Flowering Crabapple, Malus
spp., 海棠, かいどう, カイドウ, kaidou
, lit. 'sea pear/crabapple' is widely grown as a small ornamental and fruit-bearing tree.
Many varieties have been hybridized and selected in Japan, and it is all but impossible to identify them conclusively in an artwork.
Some species of crabapple are native to Japan.
The descriptor の花, no hana
, means 'flowers; in flower'.
In his English translation Rakusan apparently did not know the English and transliterated the Japanese name with a parenthetical observation that its flowers resembled cherry blossoms.
In Japan all peafowl are called 孔雀, くじゃく, クジャク, kujaku regardless of species.
Although no peafowl species is native to Japan, two species were long ago imported as exotics and have naturalized in parks and gardens.
The species depicted in 66 is the Indian Peafowl, Pavo cristatus, which is usually today distinguished as 印度孔雀, いんどくじゃく, インドクジャク, indo-kujaku, lit. 'Indian peafowl'.
Rakusan shows an albino form of the Indian Peafowl which is sometimes referred to as var. alba.
It is a natural mutation which has been reinforced by deliberate breeding as ornamental stock.
The name Rakusan used in the title-caption, 白孔雀, しろくじゃく, シロクジャク, shiro-kujaku, lit. 'white peafowl' remains the popular name for this variant form.
Writing later in English, Rakusan correctly translated the name of the male bird shown as "White Peacock".