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Tsuchiya Rakusan – Morning Glory and Wasp & Dedication Print


A masterwork by the self-published artist Rakusan Tsuchiya in excellent condition.

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SKU: MLS2022273 Categories: , Tags: ,

Japanese Morning Glory, Ipomoea (Parbitis) is originally not native to Japan. However, it was imported from China about 1,200 years ago, and it is now important in Japanese culture. In Japan morning glories have been extensively hybridized and selected to modify their colors and flower-forms. Rakusan used several different varieties in his designs. Rakusan had earlier illustrated the same morning glory variety appearing in 107 in 100 Series design 27 where he called it simply 朝顔, asagao, ‘morning glory’, and that usage has been adapted here for the title for both the print of 107 and its theme. Here the bamboo stake support indicates that the morning glory is growing in a garden setting.

This design is the seventh of thirty-six woodblock prints in Rakusan’s second main sequence series, 篁子生画選, Koushisei Gasen, lit. ‘Koushisei’s Print Selection’ (referred to as the 36 Series). Rakusan originally labeled this design number 7. 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 107, the 107th design published in his main sequence. Rakusan occasionally wrote his identification number in pencil on the reverse of the print (seen in this copy). This print is Edition I, Morph 107 (a) (1934-1941) based on the research.

This print also has a “city stamp” seal in the lower left corner; per the research:

Around the time of World War II, Rakusan was required to add a maker’s stamp to his prints, but the details of exactly when and why are uncertain. The stamp consists of a vertical column of tiny machine-made characters (rather like a miniscule typewriter font) which read from top to bottom: 京都 土屋楽山, Kyouto – Tsuchiya Rakuzan (Kyoto, the city where Rakusan lived, and the Japanese form of his name). This stamp is always in red ink and is usually placed in one of the corners of the design within the image area.

Taken together, this print is a pre-war edition that was intended to be sold after the war, circa 1947.

This is being sold with a “dancing frog souvenir print” that Rakusan created as a woodblock, leaving a large empty space for hand-written dedications. This print was made/dedicated in 1948 as it does not have the city stamp (and hand-dated), but was curiously sold with the Wasp & Morning Glory print that was published pre-war.

Note: while the image we’re showing portrays them as the same size, the dancing frog print is actually about 30% smaller.

The Woodblock Print

This oban-sized woodblock (wasp & morning glory) is in excellent condition. Beautiful color and detail, fine bokashi shading, and the gofun-paste whites and metallic ink highlights are in excellent condition. The souvenir print is very good condition, with the flaws being the remnants of affixed paper along the top edge of the verso and the oxidization of the white lead pigments into a faint orange.

About the Artist

Tsuchiya Rakusan (土屋楽山, 1896 – 1976) was a Japanese artist known for his intricate and detailed paintings of birds and flowers (kacho-e). Born in Kyoto, Rakusan grew up in a family of artists and was exposed to the traditional Japanese art forms of painting and calligraphy at an early age. He attended the Kyoto City School of Fine Arts, where he studied under the prominent painter Takeuchi Seiho.

Rakusan’s style was heavily influenced by the traditional Japanese painting technique of nihonga, which emphasizes the use of natural pigments and a meticulous attention to detail. His paintings often featured birds and flowers set against a background of gold leaf, and his use of color and composition created a sense of depth and texture in his works.

Rakusan’s career as an artist was interrupted by World War II, during which he served in the Japanese military. After the war, he returned to painting and exhibited his works in Japan and abroad. His paintings were highly sought after by collectors, and his works were exhibited in prominent galleries, including the Tokyo National Museum and the Kyoto Municipal Museum of Art.

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.

In addition to his paintings, Rakusan also worked as an illustrator and designer, creating book covers and illustrations for publications. He was also a teacher, and he mentored many young artists in the traditional techniques of nihonga painting.

Rakusan’s contributions to the art world were widely recognized during his lifetime. He was awarded numerous prizes and honors, including the Order of Culture, one of Japan’s highest civilian honors. Today, his works are held in collections around the world, including the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York and the National Museum of Modern Art in Tokyo.


  • “Tsuchiya Rakusan” by Kyoto Municipal Museum of Art, 1981
  • “Tsuchiya Rakusan” by Tsuchiya Rakusan, 1970
  • “Japanese Painting: A Concise History” by Gregory Irvine, Thames & Hudson, 2008.

Rakusan, Tsuchiya


(A+) Excellent Condition


1910s-1930s, 1940s-1950s


Early Edition




Oban (10"x15")


Insects, Plants & Flowers


Self published

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