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篁子生画選 Koushisei Gasen [36 Series]
Rakusan spent the two years between mid 1933 and mid 1935 producing two parallel series of woodblock prints. His decisions to use a different format for each series, and to market the two series separately, obscure the fact that both were actually produced as part of the same project. The smaller (but much better known) of the two series consists of thirty-six polychrome woodblock prints which Rakusan called 篁子生畫選, 篁子生畵選, or 篁子生画選, Koushisei Gasen, lit. 'Koushisei's Print Selections'. The image at the top of this page is this series title in Rakusan's own calligraphy from a woodblock-printed label which was originally applied to the red Manila-paper folio envelopes used to deliver the prints. However, here that title is generally reserved for the two-series project as a whole, and the polychrome series is informally called the 36 Series.
The thirty-six oban-size woodblock prints in the 36 Series were originally published in twelve installments of three designs each which were intended to appear monthly. Although some of the designs were actually created in the latter half of 1933, the first installment was released in January 1934. The last installment was due to be published in December 1934, but because several months were skipped, the series was not completed until mid 1935. Rakusan continued to reprint these designs until he closed his studio for World War II in 1941. After the war he resumed reprinting several of them during the period 1948-1955.
The identification numbers used here for the 36 Series are original to Rakusan who assigned them to each of the designs in the order they were first published. Although the sequential order is securely attested, delivery documents for some installments are missing. All of the publication dates used here are taken (or extrapolated) from the near identical colophons used for both simultaneously published series, the 36 Series and the intimately related Fan Series. The subpages for each of the 36 Series designs in this gallery may also be accessed from the immediately following Fan Series gallery.
All illustrations on the main gallery pages are of representative edition I copies. However, the 36 Series includes significant color and technique variations in the printing of many of the designs. Those variations, and any edition differences, are described and illustrated on the individual subpages for each design. Please note that the selection of a representative thumbnail version for this gallery page index was a matter of chance and convenience only. The versions of these particular examples are not in any way more special or standard than ones shown only on the subpages.
The 36 Series woodblock prints were adapted from actual-size original paintings on silk. Rakusan was able to retain these paintings in his personal collection, and images of them are included on the subpages for the individual designs.
The complex 36 Series edition characteristics and dating challenges are discussed in a separate article here.[Click on the thumbnail to bring up a subpage which includes a larger image of the design, additional details and images, and links to related designs.]
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