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Rakuzan Kachou Gafu
During the over four years between early 1929 and mid 1933 Rakusan produced a series of one hundred large woodblock prints at the rate of two new designs a month. Each of the designs includes one or more birds, and most also have botanical elements. Rakusan called his series 楽山花鳥畵譜 (now written 楽山花鳥画譜), Rakuzan Kachou Gafu, Rakusan's Flower and Bird Print Series; but for convenience it is usually called here the 100 Series.
Rakusan had initially intended to produce only a single print run of about two hundred copies of each of the designs. However, he begain reprinting additional print runs of identical copies of selected designs almost immediately. For the majority of the designs reprintings in up to three editions were eventually produced by the time Rakusan closed his studio in 1955. All illustrations in this overview gallery (and on its subpages) are of edition I copies unless indicated otherwise. [The 100 Series edition characteristics and datings are explained in a separate article here.]
Rakusan assigned the numbers which identify the 100 Series prints in the order the designs in this series were first published. These numbers also begin the main sequence of Rakusan Studio production numbering. (Rakusan chose to assign main sequence numbers only to designs in what he considered to be his two best series. Rakusan produced other designs before, during, and after this time; and the majority of his studio output is not included in the main sequence.)
100 Series prints were originally distributed in large red manila envelopes as loose sheets - not backed or bound, not folded, and not trimmed to a uniform size. (In the header of this gallery page is a 100 Series title label from one of those delivery envelopes.) The dimensions of the colored portion of the 100 Series designs are closely similar but are not identical, approximately [33-34cm x 47-48cm] or [13-14” x 18-19”].
Centered in the lower margin is an edition-diagnostic watermark, and immediately above that is a woodblock-printed title-caption in gray ink. The other three margins are clear. On all copies all four margins were originally the about the same width (roughly equal to the height of the watermark together with the same amount of space above and below it).
In an earlier version of this website the important title-captions remained difficult to read - even in the largest image size practical for website display. To remedy this deficiency the title-captions are now separately illustrated at a larger (and more legible) scale on each of the subpages. This solution also made it possible to increase the image display size by digitally removing all of the margins. However, each of the 100 Series examples illustrated here actually has full, uncropped, margins. (Note that actual removal of the margins is a serious condition fault which adversely affects value and should never be attempted.)
[Click on the thumbnail to bring up a subpage which includes a larger image of the design, an enlargement of the original title-caption, additional details and images, and links to related designs.]
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