Currently Documented Edition Signature and Seal Markings:
||+ Seal A
||+ Seal B
||San Setsu An Raku-zan
||+ 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 83 is original to Rakusan who published the print as the 83rd 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 edition I printing and publication of about two hundred copies of 83 was in October 1932 (or perhaps slightly later) as installment forty-two (of fifty). Apparently, all edition I copies of 83 come from this single initial printing and comprise about half of the documented copies of 83. The different copies illustrated at top and and below left are typical examples of edition I of 83.
No edition II copies of 83 are currently known.
Edition III: 83 was reprinted in edition III in two different versions between 1948 and 1955, 83 III-a and 83 III-b. These two versions are unusual for edition III in that they can be distinguished both by different colors and techniques and by different attribution markings. Very few copies of either version have been documented which suggests that each was only produced in a single, smaller, print run. The earlier edition III-a of 83 has a normal woodblock-printed signature and seal. However, the later edition III-b was initially produced without a woodblock-printed signature and seal, and the signature and seal were hand-applied. Both versions typically also have a Foster era cursive Rakusan romaji signature.
|83 (edition I)
||83 (edition III-a)
||83 (edition III-b)
83 is one of several Rakusan designs whose tan backgrounds are difficult to photograph with color fidelity. The edition I background is darker and more saturated than those of the edition III versions, but in person the backgrounds are somewhat different colors than illustrated here. Although superficially alike, all three versions of 83 can be uniquely indentified through ink color and technique alone. The several areas of the lower portions of the design are differently colored in each version, including the vegetation, the water surface at lower left, and the shading and splotches at lower right. The over-printing with watery inks creates considerable individual variation among the copies, but copies of the same version are more similar to each other than they are to copies of a different version.
Rosegold Pussywillow, Salix gracilistyla
, 猫柳, ねこやなぎ, ネコヤナギ, neko-yanagi
, lit. 'cat-willow', is a common native species in Japan.
The variety name is based on the name for Weeping Willow, Salix babylonica
, 柳, 楊, 楊柳, やなぎ, ヤナギ, yanagi
, which is also used as a general name for any willow, much as in English.
Rakusan was fond of willow motifs and used them in several artworks.
A distinctive variety of as yet unidentified grass with seed heads is also included in the composition. (Hopefully the variety will be identified in the future.)
Snowy Plover (Kentish Plover), Charadrius alexandrinus, 白千鳥, しろちどり, シロチドリ, shiro-chidori, lit. 'white plover', is a common Japanese native.
Rakusan calls it by another descriptive name, 河千鳥, kawa-chidori, lit. 'river plover', an apt name in that the birds are often found inland where Rakusan might have seen them.
The muddy environment with freshwater-loving grass and willow shows that the area is not on the seacoast.
However, Rakusan's name would not today be considered to be limited to any one species. Both names are based on the general name for any plover, 千鳥, ちどり, チドリ, chi-dori, lit. 'thousand-bird'.