This design is the first of thirty-six woodblock prints in Rakusan's second main sequence series,
篁子生画選, Koushisei Gasen
, lit. 'Koushisei's Print Selection' (usually called here the 36 Series
). Rakusan originally labeled this design number 1. However, after 1936 reprinting two series with duplicated numbering caused some confusion. To avoid further problems Rakusan decided to extend the numbering system from the preceding 100 Series
into the 36 Series
, and this design was relabeled as number 101, the 101st design published in his main sequence. Rakusan occasionally wrote his identification number in pencil on the reverse of the print.
Currently Documented Edition Signature and Seal Markings:
||+ Seal A
||[the only use of this signature and seal combination in this series]
||+ Seal B
101 is the earliest appearance of the art name 篁子生, Kou-shi-sei as part of an edition I woodblock print signature in the main Rakusan sequence.
101 is also the only main sequence edition I print where Rakusan did not somewhere use his primary art name, 楽山, Raku-zan.
[For illustration of seals listed by seal code letter, see the Seals article.
For edition and dating characteristics applicable to the entire series, see the Editions article.]
The woodblock print of 101 was adapted from 101-0, one of a pair of actual-size original paintings on silk created in 1933. Because Rakusan intended to retain all of the 36 Series
prototypes in his personal collection, he did not affix a signature or seal, and the silk remained loose and unmounted. The silk was originally a pale cream color, but over time it has significantly yellowed:
|101-0 (original painting on silk, collection of the artist)
Edition I (1934-1941): 101 was the first of a contemporaneous early group of six 36 Series designs initially created within the last half of 1933. Almost all documented copies of 101 are from the prewar edition I period, and all are very similar in color and technique. The first example image above is typical of most copies of 101. However, on a few examples a very pale gray bokashi halo has been added for additional contrast surrounding the large rose flower. This halo may be so faint and subtle as to go unnoticed. It presumably represents a separate, small print run. The second example above shows the version with the halo. With further examples it may eventually be possible to define these two versions as separate morphs.
Edition II (1948-1955): 101 is one of only a few 36 Series designs currently known to have been reprinted in a very small edition II distinguished by different attribution markings. The scarcity of edition II copies of 101 suggests that only a single print run was ever made sometime during the postwar edition II printing period. Documentation of this later edition is very limited, and it remains unclear if edition II can also be identified as a different color and technique morph. The copy in Rakusan's personal 36 Series demonstration set is this version, and it bears a secondary Rakusan cursive signature. (Not illustrated.)
36 Series prints were originally delivered tipped into recessed wells of presentation sheets which are embossed in their lower margins with the series title, 篁子生画選, Koushisei Gasen.
Because all early edition I prints once had these presentation sheets, a copy which retains its presentation sheet must have been printed during the 1930s.
After his supply of presentation sheets was exhausted, Rakusan distributed subsequently-reprinted copies loose.
A limited number of leftover earlier-printed copies of some designs on presentation sheets were still being distributed shortly after World War II, but by then most designs were only available as loose sheets.
Absence of presentation sheets is not diagnostic of later reprintings because many early prints have subsequently been detached from theirs.
The 篁子生画選, Koushisei Gasen
, project actually produced two distinct series of related woodblock prints.
Each print of the 36 Series
is intimately connected to a group of prints with the same subjects in the Fan Series
Together these subject-related prints constitute a theme, 画題, gadai
The theme is labeled here by the original Rakusan number of its 36 Series
design followed by the subject name. 101 is the 36 Series
design of the 101 Rose
Each theme typically consists of a quintet of monochrome Fan Series designs (one design in each of the five fan shapes), plus one polychrome 36 Series design which illustrates the theme subject. However, the 101 Rose theme is irregular in both its history and its composition. When Rakusan was experimenting with designs which would become the Fan Series and the 36 Series, he had originally thought to have multiple themes with the same general subjects. He began by creating and carving a few representative designs for each of the themes he intended to publish first. Rakusan carved six Fan Series rose designs divided among two planned rose themes, and he also created two original prototype paintings of roses intended as models for their 36 Series designs. Then Rakusan changed his mind. Not wanting to waste his previous efforts, he combined these two incomplete rose themes into one. One painting, 101-0, became the model for 101, but the other, 101X-0, was never made into a woodblock print. This second rose design is the only surviving example of an unused 36 Series painting.
|101X-0 (original painting on silk, collection of the artist)
The resultant 101 Rose theme has one Fan Series design of each of fan shapes 1, 2, 4, and 5; and two designs with fan shape 3. (Although it appears to be a regular fan quintet with an extra design 3, this is probably coincidental, and both potential rose themes were likely incomplete.)
Because these designs are in several different styles; other than the designs which duplicate fan shape 3, the others can no longer be reliably re-separated into the original two proto-theme components.
The 36 Series design 101, and all six Fan Series designs in the 101 Rose theme have seal A and were all created and carved approximately in the third quarter of 1933. According to the delivery documents for installment one for both the 36 Series and the Fan Series, the woodblock prints of the 101 Rose theme were printed in January 1934 and distributed January 20, 1934 in the first delivery, installment one (of twelve). There Rakusan used the title 薔薇, bara, 'rose', for both the theme designation and the title of the 36 Series design 101.
Installment one has two irregular themes. Because of the rose theme merger, the 101 Rose theme has six Fan Series designs. The following 102 Iris theme was also the result of a similar early merger of two potential iris themes but ended up with only four Fan Series designs to offset the excess in the 101 Rose theme. The remainder of the installment quota of fifteen Fan Series designs in three themes came from the five designs in the perfectly regular quintet of the 103 Tree-peony theme.
At least some of the designs in the 101 Rose theme were adapted from rose sketches originally created in the late 1920s during the planning of design 7 in the earlier 100 Series (see below).
The general Japanese name for any kind of Rose, (genus Rosa
), is 薔薇, ばら, バラ, bara
The 101 Rose
theme is not defined by any particular variety of rose, but all of the open flowers are large and double-petaled garden hybrids similar to the kind of rose in 101.