Edition I

八重椿 [title from folio]

yae tsubaki

Double Camellia


Original Number / 原番号


Theme Identification / 画題識別

129 Double Camellia Theme

Identification Notes:
This design is the twenty-ninth 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 29. 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 129, the 129th 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:
Edition I: 楽山篁子生 Raku-zan Kou-shi-sei + 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.]

Print History:
The woodblock print of 129 was adapted from 129-0, 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:
129-0 (original painting on silk, collection of the artist)

Edition I (1935-1941): Like most 36 Series designs 129 has the same signature and seal combination on every copy. Because all documented copies of 129 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 129. 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, absence of presentation sheets is not diagnostic of later printings because many early prints have subsequently been detached from theirs.

Theme History:
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, 36 Series 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. 129 is the 36 Series design of the 129 Double Camellia theme.

The 129 Double Camellia theme is one of the many entirely regular themes represented by a complete fan quintet and a color woodblock print. The prints in the 129 Double Camellia theme represent two distinct carving periods. 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. Despite the early completion of those wooden blocks, Rakusan delayed printing and distribution until the following year. The 129 Double Camellia theme was eventually grouped with other spring season themes near the end of the series. The 36 Series design 129 and the remaining three Fan Series designs have seal B which indicates a later carving period closer to the time of publication.

According to the delivery documents for Fan Series installment ten, the woodblock prints of the 129 Double Camellia theme were printed in March 1935 and distributed March 25, 1935 in installment ten (of twelve). The series as originally announced would have seen this installment published in October 1934, but there had previously been several delays and skipped delivery months. On these documents Rakusan used 八重椿, yae tsubaki, 'double camellia', as the theme title and also as the title of 36 Series design 129 published at the same time.

At least some of the double camellia designs in this theme were adapted from sketches originally created in the late 1920s during the planning of design 26 in the earlier 100 Series (see below).

Species Illustrated:
Japanese Camellia, Camellia japonica, 椿, つばき, ツバキ, tsubaki, has been extensively hybridized and selected to modify its flower-form, habit, and blooming time. As the name implies, it is a Japanese native species which still grows wild as well as in gardens. For 129 and the other designs in the 129 Double Camellia theme, and 26 in the 100 Series, Rakusan illustrates a large, fully-double, red and white bicolor flower, of an unidentified hybrid variety. In all of the designs the leaves have an unhealthy looking mottling which appears characteristic of this particular variety In the title-caption for 26 Rakusan uses the descriptor 八重, yae, lit. 'eight-fold', which is a conventional way of describing flowers with multiple ranks of petals, i.e. a double flower. Therefore, what Rakusan used is a name for a general type of bloom and not the name of any particular variety. From the mid spring season mentioned at 26, and associations with warm weather insects in other designs in this theme, this camellia variety is the latest blooming of the camellias that Rakusan illustrates.

Although he had access to many varieties of camellias, Rakusan depicted only three different kinds in his woodblock prints, and examples each appear in the 36 Series. The other two kinds of Rakusan camellias are at numbers 116 and 126, which in turn link to their own additional related designs.

Related Designs:
Other designs in the 129 Double Camellia theme:
129-1 129-2 129-3 129-4 129-5

Other designs with double camellia:
26alt 26