This design is the eleventh 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 11. 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 111, the 111th 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 B
||Morph 111 (a)
||+ Seal B
||Morph 111 (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 111 was adapted from 111-0, 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:
|111-0 (original painting on silk, collection of the artist)
Like most 36 Series designs 111 has the same signature and seal combination on every copy. However, although there is considerable individual variation, each copy of 111 can be assigned to one of two distinct color morphs, 111 (a) and 111 (b). Both of these edition I morphs occur with presentation sheets (see below), and it is not known which is the earlier version. The copies illustrated above are typical examples of each of these color morphs and come from dated sales only a few months apart in 1935-1936.
Both illustrated copies are in the same pristine condition in the same private collection and were photographed at the same time and in the same way. It is important to emphasize that these color differences are original and deliberate, and that examples of 111 (b) are not just faded copies of 111 (a). There is currently no evidence of an edition II for 111.
Edition I, Morph 111 (a) (1934-1941): More than half of the currently documented copies of 111 are of morph 111 (a) which is generally characterized by having the darkest, most saturated hues. Note especially the darker colors on the leaves at top and right and the darker purples on the grapes. There is individual variation in shading among the various copies, but the very darkest purples are found only on this version. The first example at top is a typical copy of 111 (a).
Edition I, Morph 111 (b) (1934-1941): Less than half of the currently documented copies of 111 are of morph 111 (b) which is paler and bluer throughout and with generally less contrast. Although the very deep purples are always absent, there is some individual variation in shading among the various copies. The second example at top is a typical copy of 111 (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.
Copies with presentation sheets of both 111 (a) and 111 (b) have been documented (including each of the examples illustrated here).
After his supply of presentation sheets was exhausted, Rakusan distributed subsequently reprinted copies loose or tipped onto plain paper.
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 monochrome Fan Series
designs (one design in each of the five fan shapes), plus one polychrome,
design which illustrates and defines the theme subject.
The theme is labeled here by the original Rakusan number of its 36 Series
design followed by the subject.
111 is the 36 Series
design of the 111 Grape
The 111 Grape theme is one of the many entirely regular themes represented by a complete fan quintet and a color woodblock print.The Fan Series designs in the 111 Grape 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, 葡萄, budou, 'grape', which would also have been the title of 36 Series design 111 issued at the same time.
Two of the five Fan Series designs have seal C which indicates carving dates between the last months of 1933 and the end of the first quarter of 1934.
However, the 36 Series design 111 and the other three Fan Series designs all have seal B which indicates a later carving period closer to the time of publication.
(The 111 Grape theme is unusual in having seal B on a majority of its designs.)
Rakusan arranged all three themes with fruit subjects (110-112) into installment four. (They are also consecutive with the only theme with a vegetable subject, 109.)
Additionally, into each of the three themes in installment four Rakusan incorporated a single design taken from the same outside source, Ten Bamboo Studio Manual of Painting, 十竹斎書画譜, Jitchikusai Shogafu, called here TBS.
In the 111 Grape theme, the TBS design is 111-3, one of the earlier seal C designs which clearly is in a style different from all of the others in the theme.
At least some of the grape designs were adapted from sketches originally created in the late 1920s during the planning of design 32 of the earlier 100 Series.
In the title-caption for 32 Rakusan calls the grape illustrated there Wild Grape, 野葡萄 (which also can be written 野ぶどう, 野ブドウ, のぶどう, ノブドウ), no-budou, lit. 'field-grape'.
However, the bird in 32 is an aviary specimen; and the grape, which is indistinguishable from those in the 111 Grape theme, is probably actually a cultivated vine.
The bamboo pole supports shown in 111 and 111-2 confirm that those grapevines are certainly under cultivation.
Grape, Vitis vinifera
, 葡萄, ぶどう, ブドウ, budou
, is a fruiting vine commonly grown in Japan.
Japanese Tree-frog, Hyla japonica, 日本雨蛙, にほんあまがえる, ニホンアマガエル, nihon ama-gaeru, lit. 'Japanese rain-frog', is a very small Japanese endemic species.
From the tiny size alone, all of Rakusan's tree frogs are recognizable as this species, and the identification is confirmed by the skin markings as well.