This design is the twelfth 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 12. 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 112, the 112th 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 C
||[the first occurrence of seal C in edition I of the main 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 112 was adapted from 112-0, 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:
|112-0 (original painting on silk, collection of the artist)
Edition I (1934-1941): Like most 36 Series designs 112 has the same signature and seal combination on every copy. Several copies have been found with presentation sheets and/or city-name stamps (see below). There is considerable individual variation in the saturation of the yellow and brown pigments in the fruit, leaves, and branches. On some copies the larger branches are almost entirely gray-scale. It is unclear how much of this variation was intentional and how much due to fading of the original pigments. Currently, all documented copies of 112 are referred to edition I printings, and there is no evidence for postwar edition II reprinting. The copy illustrated above is typical of edition I (except that it has a secondarily added city-name stamp in the upper left corner).
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 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.
112 is the 36 Series
design of the 112 Pomegranate
The 112 Pomegranate 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 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, 柘榴, zakuro, 'pomegranate', which would also have been the title of 36 Series design 112 issued at the same time.
The individual designs in the 112 Pomegranate theme were completed in at least two stages.
112 and 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.
Another fan design (112-3) has seal R which is a rare minor seal whose carving period has yet to be established.
The other two fan designs have seal B which indicates a later carving period closer to the time of publication.
When Rakusan arranged the publication order of his themes, all three themes with fruit subjects (what became themes 110, 111, and 112) ended up as installment four. (They are also consecutive with theme 109, the only vegetable subject theme.)
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, abbreviated here TBS.
In the 112 Pomegranate theme, the TBS design is 112-4, one of the later seal B designs, part of which is in a style different from all of the others in the theme.
At least some pomegranate designs were adapted from sketches originally created in the late 1920s during the planning of designs 18 and 78 of the earlier 100 Series (see below).
Pomegranate, Punica granatum,
柘榴, 石榴, 若榴, ざくろ, ザクロ, zakuro
, is an originally exotic deciduous shrub.
In Japan it has been extensively hybridized and is widely grown for its large edible fruit, ornamental flowers, and decorative bark which make it popular also as a bonsai subject.
Rakusan most often illustrates the mature fruit which has split open as the rind dried, as it has in 112.
However, in his various other prints he shows all stages of development from the blossoms on.
Wasps and bees share the same name in Japanese, 蜂, はち, ハチ, hachi.
[Rakusan insects in color are usually identifiable at least to the genus level. Identification of this wasp is in process.]