Currently Documented Edition Signature and Seal Markings:
||+ Seal A
||+ 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 69 is original to Rakusan who published the print as the 69th 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 69 was in March 1932 (or perhaps slightly later) in installment thirty-five (of fifty). However, at least one additional full edition I reprinting of 69 was made before mid 1933 when the series was completed and and all edition I printing ceased. About half of the documented copies of 69 come from these edition I printings, including the two different example copies illustrated at top and below left.
Edition II: 69 was reprinted sometime between 1936 and 1941 in numbers equivalent to those printed in edition I. Edition II copies of 69 also account for about half of the documented copies of 69. Most of the edition II copies of 69 have city-name stamps which indicate intended sales circa 1947 and show that stocks were still available for sale after the war. The city-name stamps were usually placed within the image area in the lower left corner, as in the example at below center, but there are also a few copies with the city-name stamp placed in the lower right corner.
Edition III: 69 was reprinted in a single, very small, edition III reprinting sometime between 1948 and 1955. All of the few known edition III copies of 69 have secondary Foster era Rakusan cursive romaji signatures, including the copy illustrated at right below.
|69 (edition I)
||69 (edition II)
||69 (edition III)
There are many distinguishing color and technique differences among the three editions. Note that the tan background colors are difficult to photograph with any fidelity. The backgrounds in the two different edition I copies are actually the same hue. The backgounds in each edition are progressively lighter, and edition III adds a dark bokashi shading at the bottom. The foliage and flowers are also different in each edition.
69 has always been a popular design. Rakusan included additional printing illustrations for 69 in his unpublished Illustrated Catalogue of Woodblock Prints, a manuscript booklet he intended to have printed up as a catalogue raisonné.
Copies in Public Collections:
|69 (key block) p14 detail
||69 (inking a color block) p13
Edition I: Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, MA, USA; (1952) 52.118 [not illustrated online except as a slightly-cropped greeting card reproduction].
Bamboo Lily, Lilium japonicum
, 笹百合, ささゆり, ササユリ, sasa-yuri
, lit. 'dwarf-bamboo lily', is the native lily species Rakusan shows here. However, the name Rakusan used in the title-caption is that of a different native species, Goldband Lily, Lilium auratum
, 山百合, やまゆり, ヤマユリ, yama-yuri
, lit. 'mountain lily'. However, since 'mountain' is also used to infer 'wild' as opposed to 'cultivated', it is possible that 'wild lily' is what Rakusan intended and the misidentification was accidental.
Rakusan was familiar with several kinds of lilies and included more than one species in theme 104, but those are all either Bamboo Lily or a third native species, Tiger Lily, Lilium lancifolium
There are currently no identifiable examples of Goldband Lily among Rakusan's artworks.
Japanese Bush Warbler (or Japanese Nightingale), Cettia diphone, is a common native bird beloved for its sweet song.
It is frequently depicted in art, and it has many literary and poetic names.
Some of these names have historical origins in Chinese names for Black-naped Oriole, Oriolus chinensis.
The connection is that in China the archetypal sweet singing bird is the oriole, but that species is not found in Japan except as a rare wanderer.
In Japan the cultural role of the archetypal best singer is played instead by the bush warbler.
Therefore over many centuries the various names for the two species have interpenetrated.
As he had done earlier on design 4, Rakusan here wrote wrote 鴬, uguisu.
Today, written in kana, うぐいす, ウグイス, uguisu, represents an ornithological specialization and refers only to the bush warbler. Written in kanji, 鴬 or 鶯 ,uguisu, remains a very common general name not only for this species, but also for several other sweet singing birds.
The original Chinese character underlying both of these kanji means 'oriole', but it is read in the Japanese manner as uguisu 'bush warbler'.
The modern Japanese name for the Black-naped Oriole comes full circle in incorporating the re-generalized bush warbler name as 高麗鶯, こうらいうぐいす, コウライウグイス, kourai uguisu, lit. "Korean bush warbler'. Rakusan depicted this oriole in design number 18 in this series.
In 69 the bush warbler and its nestlings are shown at its 巣, su, 'nest'.