This design is the tenth 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 10. 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 110, the 110th 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 B
||+ Seal 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 110 was adapted from 110-0, an actual-size original painting on silk.
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:
|110-0 (original painting on silk, collection of the artist)
Edition I (1934-1941): Like most 36 Series designs 110 has the same signature and seal combination on every copy. Almost all documented copies of 110 look very much alike, are often associated with presentation sheets (see below), and can be referred to the original edition I printings. The copy illustrated above is typical of edition I.
Edition II (1948-1955): The copy of 110 in Rakusan's personal 36 Series demonstration set has a secondary Rakusan cursive signature. (Not illustrated.) This association probably indicates that 110 has an edition II form. The scarcity of all edition II copies of suggests that only a single print run of each was ever made sometime during the postwar edition II printing period. Documentation is very limited, and it remains unclear if this possible edition II of 110 can also be identified as a different color and technique morph.
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 typically consists of a quintet of Fan Series
monochrome 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.
110 is the 36 Series
design of the 110 Persimmon
The 110 Persimmon theme is one of the many entirely regular themes represented by a complete fan quintet and a color woodblock print. However, its compostion is the most complex of any Rakusan theme.
The 110 Persimmon theme is unique in having designs with four different seals, as well as also including the widest range of styles.
The earliest carving period up through the third quarter of 1933 is represented by Fan Series designs 110-1 (with seal Q) and 110-3 (with seal A). These designs would have been carved at the same time as the mostly seal A designs in themes 101-106, and then set aside. As a result, 110-3 is the last known occrrence of seal A on a first publication of a woodblock print design. In addition to the early seals, there are several stylistic features which also set these two Fan Series designs apart from the others in their theme. These include double-outlining many of the elements, as well as (especially on 110-1) an inconsistent ishizuri rendering of light and dark areas of the designs.
The second carving period between the last months of 1933 and the end of the first quarter of 1934 is represented only by the single Fan Series design 110-4 (with seal C).
The remaining three designs infilling the theme, the 36 Series design 110 and the Fan Series designs 110-2 and 110-5, have seal B which only began to be used a couple of months prior to the publication of this theme.
Rakusan arranged the themes so that all the vegetable and fruit themes 109-112 would be in consecutive order; and the three fruit themes (including 110) would be together in installment four.
Unusually, Rakusan elected to infill each of these three fruit themes with a single design co-opted from a very old and well known outside source, Ten Bamboo Studio Painting Manual (TBS).
In the 110 Persimmon theme that design is 110-5 which has taken the bird part of its design from TBS.
Rakusan adapted the much older TBS design for use in this theme by replacing the original botanical with a persimmon branch as an overlay.
Unfortunately, the bird in the TBS source design was very crudely styled; and because it was exactly copied, it looks very much out of place in the Rakusan series.
The Fan Series designs in the 110 Persimmon theme were produced as woodblock prints in June 1934 and distributed June 25, 1934 in installment four (of twelve). On the documents attached to the delivery folio envelope Rakusan used the theme subject title, 柿, kaki, 'persimmon', which would also have been the title of 36 Series design 110 issued at the same time.
As in 110 the persimmons in this theme are usually shown at a mature size, but at least one of the designs, 110-2, shows immature fruit.
In addition to persimmons, animal life is included as subsidiary elements in each of the designs.
The pairing of the persimmon and the white-eye is a traditional one in Japanese art.
Rakusan used the combination in an early design in this theme, 110-1, as well as in the later 36 Series design 110.
At least some of the persimmon designs were likely adapted from sketches originally created in the late 1920s during the planning of designs 19 of the earlier 100 Series (see below).
Similarly, some of the white-eye designs probably are related to those prepared for design 67.
(Japanese) Persimmon, Diospyros kaki
, 柿, かき, カキ, kaki
, is a familiar fruit tree now widely planted around the world.
Despite the name, the tree is native to China, but it has been bred into several popular commercial varieties in Japan where it was an early introduction.
The persimmon fruit is very astringent and is not eaten until it is overripe and sweet.
Japanese White-eye, Zosterops japonicus, 繡眼児, 眼白; now usually 目白, めじろ, メジロ, mejiro, lit. 'white eye', is a familiar native species.
The little birds are fond of overripe and fermenting fruit. Sometimes they become intoxicated and are easily caught to be kept as pets.
Rakusan was fond of portraying these active little birds, and they appear in several of his designs.