This design is the second 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 2. 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 102, the 102nd 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
102 is the earliest appearance of the conjoined art name 楽山篁子生, Raku-zan Kou-shi-sei, as an edition I woodblock print signature in the main Rakusan sequence.
[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 102 was adapted from 102-0, an actual-size original painting on silk created in late 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: .
|102-0 (original painting on silk, collection of the artist)
Edition I (1934-1941): Like most 36 Series designs 102 has the same signature and seal combination on every copy. Because all documented copies of 102 look very much alike, and are often associated with presentation sheets (see below), they are all referred to the original edition I printings. There is currently no evidence for any other versions of 102. The copy illustrated above is typical of edition I.
The earliest 36 Series prints were delivered tipped into recessed wells of presentation sheets embossed in their lower margins with the series title.
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.
However, because many early prints have subsequently been detached from their presentation sheets, absence of a presentation sheet is not in itself diagnostic of a later printing.
The Rakusan project which produced 篁子生画選, Koushisei Gasen
, resulted in two related series of 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.
102 is the 36 Series
design of the 102 Rabbitear Iris
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 102 Rabbitear Iris 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 from each of the themes he intended to publish first. After having carved four Fan Series iris designs divided among two planned iris themes, Rakusan changed his mind. However, not wanting to waste his previous efforts, he combined these two incomplete iris themes into one.
The resultant 102 Rabbitear Iris theme anomalously has two Fan Series designs with fan shape 1, one design each of fan shapes 4 and 5, but no designs in fan shapes 2 and 3. These designs include several different styles; and other than the duplicated fan shape 1 designs, the others can no longer be reliably re-separated into two original components.
Because of a similar merger, the preceding 101 Rose theme ended up with six Fan Series designs. To offset that excess, the 102 Rabbitear Iris theme only has the original four Fan Series designs. 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.
The 36 Series design 102, and the four Fan Series designs in the 102 Rabbitear Iris 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 102 Rabbitear Iris theme were printed in January 1934 and distributed January 20, 1934 in the first delivery, installment one (of twelve). There Rakusan used the title かきつばた, kakitsubata, 'rabbitear iris', for both the theme designation and the title of the 36 Series design 102.
The 102 Rabbitear Iris theme is the first of two similar iris themes.
Much later in the series Rakusan created the 128 Japanese Iris theme which is entirely regular in its arrangement. However, that later theme represents a separate, subsequent, addition to the two series which is entirely distinct from the 102 Rabbitear Iris theme.
At least some of the designs in both iris themes were adapted from iris sketches originally created in the late 1920s during the planning of the earlier 100 Series. The 102 Rabbitear Iris theme is related to designs 23alt and 23, and the 128 Japanese Iris theme to design 47 (see below).
Notice that the composition of 102 is close to the mirror image of that of 102-5.
Rabbitear Iris, Iris laevigata
, 杜若, 燕子(花), かきつばた, カキツバタ, kakitsubata
, is native to Japan where it grows in shallow water in ponds and marshes.
There are many Japanese names for kinds of iris, and considerable hybridizing and selection have linked the original individual species into a complex continuum.