Rakusan (Rakuzan) (1896 - 1976)
Large-berry Winterberry and Red Crossbills (Early Winter)
About the artist
Rakusan (Rakuzan) Tsuchiya captured the natural world through lush compositions, rich color and sparkling embellishments. Trained as a painter, Rakusan gained renown as a woodblock print artist through his self-published kacho-e prints, or bird and flower pictures. In these natural vignettes, he brought fresh perspective to classic pairings of bird and bloom. Born in Hyogo prefecture, Rakusan worked in Kyoto. He also used the name Rakusan Koshisei. In 1913, he became the pupil of the influential painter Seiho Takeuchi. During 1920s through 1950s, Rakusan built a successful career as a print artist. He produced his most successful series, Rakusan Kacho Gafu (Rakusan Flower and Bird Series), between 1929 and 1933. Based on paintings he had completed between 1925 and 1929, the 100 large-scale woodblock prints proved so popular that many designs remained in print until his studio closed in 1955. The three resulting editions can be distinguished through their watermarks. In the late 1940s, Rakusan reached an American audience through his partnership with Walter T. Foster. The California-based publisher became a good friend of Rakusan and published artists book The Art of Rakusan Tsuchiya, Famous Print Maker of Japan in the 1950s. Though the expected romanization of the artist's name is "Rakuzan," the artist preferred the spelling "Rakusan."