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Rakusan (Rakuzan) (1896 - 1976)

Wild Pear Flowers and Cuckoo (Late Spring)

Series: Rakusan's Flower and Bird
Medium: Woodblock Print
Date: 1929
Size (H x W): 18 x 23.75 (inches)
Publisher: Rakuzan Kachou Gafu Kankoukai (Rakusan Studio as publisher)
Seals: Watermark: Rakuzankachogafu
Edition: Edition I
Signature: Rakuzan kyo with artist's seal
Condition: Very good color and impression, very light toning and soiling on margins and reverse, very light creasing at edges of paper, artists embossed watermark in lower margin, embellished with gold.

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Rakuzan, known for his modern and refined version of traditional nature studies, was a Japanese woodblock artist of the 20th century. The masterful use of gold and the shading in the branches and leaves of the mountain pear tree recalls the aesthetics of the popular Rinpa school of painting, translated into woodblock. This Wild Pear Flowers and Cuckoo print is a first edition, with the first edition water mark on the lower margin and Rakuzan's personal first edition seal under the signature. 


About the artist

Rakusan (Rakuzan) Tsuchiya captured the natural world through lush compositions, rich color and sparkling embellishments. Trained as a painter, Rakusan Tsuchiya 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."