This design is the sixth 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 6. 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 106, the 106th 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 and Morphs:
||+ Seal A
||Morph 106 (a)
||[the last occurrence of seal A in the edition I main sequence]
||+ Seal B
||Morph 106 (b)
[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 106 was adapted from 106-0, an actual-size original painting 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:
|106-0 (original painting on silk, collection of the artist)
Unfortunately, the available illustrations for 106 were taken under very different conditions on different equipment. Many of the colors, especially those of the background, are much more similar than they appear here. The actual color of the background at the top of each image is that of the unprinted paper (or unpainted silk in the case of the original painting).
Edition I, Morph 106 (a) (1934-1941): Almost all documented copies of 106 are from the original prewar edition I. Rakusan represents the ground from which the quince is growing as arcs defined by areas of pale gray and orange bokashi shadings. Individual copies show obvious variations in the extent of the areas covered by each of the two colors and in how these areas adjoin and/or overlap. Three versions have been noted based on the extent of the orange bokashi: lower center, lower right, and lower overall (the third also overlapping the gray). Copies of each of the three versions have been documented with presentation sheets (see below), identifying all them as coming from early edition I printings. However, although these versions probably represent different print runs, it remains unclear whether the observed variation was deliberate or was incidental to working with the difficult bokashi technique. As currently defined, all edition I copies of 106 remain referred to a single, variable, morph 106 (a). Eventually, it may be possible to redefine multiple morphs within edition I using the noted variations and other less noticeable differences. The first example above is a copy of edition I, morph 106 (a) with discrete areas of gray and orange bokashi limited to the central portion of the ground arcs.
Edition II, Morph 106 (b) (1948-1955): 106 is one of a very few 36 Series designs which were printed in an edition II distinguished by different signature and seal combinations. For morph 106 (b) Rakusan not only replaced the seal but also raised it and the signature about a centimeter. This modification may have been intended to make room below to add a Foster era cursive romaji Rakusan signature. These signatures are restricted to this version of 106, but in the documented examples the signature is actually placed at lower center (rather than at lower left below the signature and seal). Morph 106 (b) also modifies many of the original colors of the branches to much paler versions and adds an area of lime green bokashi to the ground area to the left of the orange shading. Edition II copies of 106 are very rare, suggesting that morph 106 (b) only had a single, small, print run sometime during the postwar printing period. The second example above is a typical copy of edition II, morph 106 (b).
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, absence of presentation sheets is not diagnostic of later printings because many early prints have subsequently been detached from theirs.
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 in the two series constitute a theme.
Each theme normally consists of a quintet of monochrome Fan Series
designs (one design in each of the five fan shapes), plus one polychrome,
design which illustrates the theme subject.
The theme is labeled here by the original Rakusan number of its 36 Series
design followed by the subject.
106 is the 36 Series
design of the 106 Quince
The 106 Quince theme is one of the many entirely regular themes represented by a complete fan quintet and a color woodblock print. The 36 Series design 106 and all five Fan Series designs have seal A which indicates carving dates around the third quarter of 1933. It was during this period that Rakusan was making his initial plans for the two series. He created and carved all of the designs in the first six themes (including those of the 106 Quince theme) plus a scattering of other designs weeks or even months before publication of the series was to begin. The prints in both series were later printed in the same month they were published.
Publication of the Fan Series and the 36 Series began in January 1934 with installment one containing the first three themes. On the documents attatched to the Fan Series delivery folio envelope for installment one Rakusan announced that quince designs would be published the following month, February 1934, in installment two (of twelve). In that announcement he used the theme title ぼけ, boke, 'quince', which was also the original title of the 36 Series design 106.
Between installment one in January 1934 and installment four in June 1934, Rakusan skipped two monthly deliveries while he sorted out the remaining themes in both series. Because the delivery documents for installment two remain to be discovered, it is technically possible that installment two (including the 106 Quince theme) could have been published in either February, March, or April 1934. However, the wooden blocks for printing the designs in installment two had already been carved, and there seems no reason why installment two would not have appeared as advertised in February 1934. Other evidence suggests that the two missed months during which major changes occurred in markings and organization were a single block between installment two and installment three.
At least some of the quince designs in this theme were adapted from sketches originally created in the late 1920s during the planning of design 8 in the earlier 100 Series (see below). Rakusan uses the same name for the very similar plant in 8 in ぼけ乃花 and ぼけの花, both boke no hana, 'quince flowers'.
The three species of flowering quince are collectively known in Japanese as 木瓜, ぼけ, ボケ, boke
, and in English informally as "Japanese Quince".
Today the Japanese name is also used particularly for one of the most common garden varieties, Chaenomeles speciosa
var. cf. lagenaria
, a selection of an originally Chinese and Korean species early imported into Japan.
There is also a shorter-growing native species, Chaenomeles japonica
These quinces have been bred into many forms for flower and fruit production and are often used in bonsai.