“ The  Programmatic  Mezzotint ”

with  exceptionally  Beautiful  Vienna  Provenance  Story

close  to  the  Immortal  Beethoven

Ridinger – Bergmüller, Johann Georg (Türkheim, Swabia, 1688 – Augsburg 1762). IOH. ELIAS RIDINGER / Pictor et Scalptor (sic!) Augustanus / solertissimus Naturae Indag(ator) / ejusque in Animalium praeser(tim) / Delineatione Æmulator / felicissimus / natus Vlmae Suevorum / d. XVI. Febr. A.S. MDCXCVIII / Ars Artifici(s) Amic(us). Half-length portrait, sitting, with brushes + palette as medallion in easel mirror held by Diana sitting to the right, seeing before the artistic eye a royal stag already on the canvas as it lies together with a boar as Diana’s bag below a pedestal. Sitting on the latter and intimately turned to the master a hooded falcon together with lateral hawked heron as well as shot wild goose. And center below a Ridinger hound for sure. The whole set before woody background. Mezzotint by Johann Jacob Haid (Kleineislingen 1704 – Augsburg 1767). Inscribed: I. G. Bergmüller invent. / I. Iac. Haid ad vivum pinx. fecit et excud. A. V., otherwise as above. 15⅝ × 10½ in (39.7 × 26.6 cm).

With fine margin of up to 4 mm all around and in this below on both sides and above left printing color-like tiny stains, some of which also, visible only lower right, appear in the subject itself, on the left also a professionally repaired tear reaching 1.5 cm into the subject.

Thienemann XX, 2; Schwarz, portraits, 3 + ills.; Le Blanc 94; Silesian Ridinger collection at Boerner XXXIX, 2057 ( “Esteemed fine sheet … Rare”, 1885 ! ); Reich auf Biehla 2 (1894); Helbing XXXIV (1900), 2; Schoeller Collection 523 (“Very fine mezzotint … Rare”; 1921); Schwerdt III (1928), 133; Ridinger exhibition catalogs: Augsburg (1967) 81 + ills. 1 as well as 82; Kielce (1997) 1 + frontispiece; Darmstadt (1999) I.2 + ills. – Niemeyer, (The Vanitas Symbolism with Joh. El. R.) in L’Art Macabre 2 (2001), 94 ff.

Not in the Coppenrath Collection (1889/90) + at Rosenthal (1940).

Lugt marks of the Vienna Ritter von Franck: 946 f. (Alfred) , 1152 (Gustav) , 949 (Johann Jakob).

Kalischer (ed.), Beethovens Sämtliche Briefe, 1907 ff.:

V, pp. 241-244, concerning as  banker + agent  of  the  late  Beethoven  Johann Jakob von Franck, the father of Alfred + Gustav, in letters of July 1826 to Schott Sons in Mayence:

“ … in which you pointed out that you have at once notified the first half of the fee for my latest quartet  at  Herr  Frank’s , I announce to you that the mentioned work is completed and is ready to be delivered. There remains, therefore, nothing than for you kindly send me a bill for the second half to be paid to be paid in two months (forty ducats), as soon as I receive it I shall  hand  over  the  work  without  delay  to  Herr  Frank … / … I expect your remittance yet for this  on  the  Messrs.  Frank  here , so that on receipt of it I may carry out my plan without delay … / … I announce to you that in a few days the quartet, also your letter  to  Herr Frank, will be delivered; this would already have been done, had not my desire to send you the work perfectly correct for printing decided me to look through it once again most carefully. I thank you heartily for the remittance of your bill … ”

The banker (son of the father of the same name who emigrated in the early 1770s from the then Swiss Mülhausen/Mulhouse, Alsace, where this had been a councilor of the Great Board, to Austria) is the brother-in-law of

Beethoven’s  “Dorothea=Cecilia” ,

the  Baroness  Dorothea  von  Ertmann ,

as  pupil  and  then  decisive  pianist  of  Beethoven’s

to whom 1804 the latter sent a first New Year’s greeting and in 1816 dedicated the sonata for pianoforte no. 28 in A major op. 101 as “the first of the great set of (the 5) late pianoforte sonatas” (Thayer; see on this also III, pp. 92-96: “the sonata in A major, so Kalischer picking up Beethoven’s remark towards the publisher Steiner, will cause puzzlement and stupefaction. – And this it met lavishly until this very day.” And the master himself: “ I  beg  you  to  observe  the  strictest  silence  with  regard  to  the  dedication , as  I  wish  it  to  come  as  a  great  surprise .”).

The house of the banker was reputed in this time as one of the “center(s) of intellectual communication in Vienna frequented by literies and musicians, among them (as in the home of the Ertmanns, too, see below) Ludwig van Beethoven” (Wikipedia).

Concerning  the  Ertmann , born Graumann from Frankfurt, 1778-1848, = I, pp. 130 f. See on this also Kalischer in Musik, 2nd March issue 1904 (IIIrd Beethoven issue) + p. 266 as well as III, pp. 22 f.“The celebrated letter … Original in the autograph collection of Dorothea=Cecilia’s nephew, Alfred Ritter von Frank, in Vienna”; there then also the early B. letter 130 on behalf of a further opera ) + p. 133.

See also Kalischer’s “comprehensive monograph on Beethoven’s Dorothea=Cecilia” in the Deutsche Musiker=Zeitung June 4 to August 20, 1904.

Kerst (ed.), Die Erinnerungen an Beethoven, 1913:

I, pp. 50 f. (from the recollections of the composer, music educationist, and teacher of Franz Liszt, Karl Czerny, 1791-1857: “Among the ladies then … (from 1800 to 1820)  the  Baroness  Ertmann  was  the  most  excellent  player  of  Beethoven’s  works . She and her husband … belonged (during the last 25 [!] years, not in the original) to his most intimate friends and supposedly she was his pupil for she played (with great physical force) his works quite in his spirit.” On this she herself – pp. 237/39 – in report by her niece, “the famous singer Mathilde Marchesi, in her book (page 10) ‘Memories from my Life’ (1877)”:

“ ‘Initially,’ so she told me, ‘there was a lot railing against the great master … Eager to get acquainted with his latest sonatas one day I went to the music house of Mr. Haslinger (then still Steiner & Comp.), had some of them presented to me and immediately played them on a grand piano. In my eagerness I had not noticed a young man who stood shyly in a corner and then quietly approached me. Who imagines my surprise when suddenly he took my hand and  thanked  me  with  the  warmest  expressions  for  the  successful  rendering  of  his  sonatas . It was Beethoven. – –

From  this  moment  on  we  became  friends . I will never forget … what warm and affectionate interest Beethoven showed to me and my family. Therefore it seemed incomprehensible to me that after the death of my only beloved child he did not pay a visit to me. After several weeks he finally appeared. Greeting me silently he sat down at the piano and fantasized for a long time.

Who could describe this music! One believed to hear choirs of angels celebrating the entrance of my poor child into the world of the light. Then, when he had ended, he sadly pressed my hand and left silently as he had come. (According to a report by letter by Felix Mendelsohn of 1831 this intimate condolence took place on invitation by Beethoven at his place.) – –’

‘During a long sequence of years,’ so my aunt continued to tell me, ‘Beethoven was daily guest in our house …’”, as also confirmed by Mendelsohn in description of his visits there: “For a change he [the general] tells the finest stories on Beethoven how in the evening when she played for him … ”

I, page 260: “With respect to the performance the Baroness Ertmann … seemed to excel all of us”, so the Bremen educationist W. Chr. Müller on his stay in Vienna in 1824.

II, p. 193 (from the recollection of Dr. Bertolini of 1852, 1806/16 Beethoven’s friend and physician): “Beethoven had his sonatas preferably played by Mrs. Ertmann, he himself did not like doing it anymore.” + pp. 258-260: “Talk on the master’s friend and best pupil, Mrs. General Ertmann, whose husband was to commit the nephew recovered from a suicide attempt as cadet ([conversations]issue 109, April 1824)

Schindler: Op. 97, lately I played it with Mrs. General Ertmann … It would be a great pleasure for you (that is Beethoven) to be able to listen to the Ertmann now. – (issue 37, end of 1825.) Karl Holz: The Ertmann is not here at the moment … (issue 10, end of 1825.) (The same): The Ertmann is expected daily. – (issue 100, summer 1826.) Suggestion of borrowing from Ertmanns. Schuppanzigh: What are 4000 fl. for the Ertmann / She also has a great fortune. – / Her father is one of the richest people in Frankfurt. – / The Frank*) (*Ritter von Frank) the miser, would not have married her sister if she had not had a fortune. – … / (issue 116, July 1826.) The same: Has he already seen the Ertmann? – / She requests to hear his very latest quartets. – (issue 128, July 1826.) Karl Holz: Milord said the Ertmann requests to hear a quartet; she even would pay for it. – (issue 129, end of summer.) Nephew Karl: When are you talking with the Ertmann? – Certainly he can do a lot, either directly or also indirectly … Also there won’t be set up no hindrance for his joining as cadet … (The same issue.) Karl Holz: Yesterday I talked myself with Ertmann in town. You shall not betake yourself to his place, he will have the honor to visit you tomorrow morning. – ”

Bold marks not in the original. – The Ritter von Francks are not to be mixed with the physician Dr. Joseph von Frank and his wife Christine née Gerardi celebrated as singer who lived in Vienna until about 1804. – This then the anticipated and

for  Ridingeriana  quite  extraordinary  Beethoven  part

of  the  generally  exceptionally  beautiful  provenance  story  continued  below ,

here in connection with the already optically splendid

rich  fine  portrait

Johann Georg Bergmüller, Johann Elias Ridinger

by  the  former  pupil  Haid

who from 1726 on stayed on with Ridinger as journeyman for some more years and created the painted version in 1744 (canvas, 26 × 18⅞ in [66 × 48 cm], Art Collections Augsburg, inv. no. 8610) which in turn then served Bergmüller together with the head of a hound from a drawing by Ridinger from 1728 as model that then Haid again transferred into the copper,

which  double  authorship  of  Haid

additionally  to  his  long-standing  nearness  to  the  master

secures  the  sheet  its  special  original  rank .

The head of the stag sketched here in the easel mirror in outline only as for the time being spiritual vision only is fully executed in the oil. Bergmüller’s in this regard backward directed execution certainly not of accidental nature, rather, also in conformity to the artist’s expression, elucidating the process of creation.

“ It is one of numerous mezzotint portraits of Augsburg artists (Haid as)

in  this  field  leading  master  of  the  germanophone  art  sphere

designed together with Johann Georg Bergmüller. The latter created the framing composition in each case ”

(Anke Charlotte Held, Georg Philipp Rugendas … Gemälde und [selected] Zeichnungen, 1996, pp. 28 & 34).

For interest besides the equally designed portrait of the famous guild colleague portrait of the famous guild colleague Georg Philipp Rugendas I likewise worked in mezzotint by Haid after Bergmüller should be recalled, too. And of the joint obituary in the Augsburg press of December 29, 1767, for Ridinger + Haid (“Some time ago our city and the whole learned Germany

has  lost  2  famous  artists;

Mr.  Joh.  Ridinger … and  Mister  Joh.  Jac.  Haid … ”

With the latter’s Ridinger picture going markedly beyond its caption which shall be repeated from Thienemann’s translation as follows:

“ J. E. Ridinger … the most fervent naturalist and luckiest imitator especially in depiction of animals … The art the artist’s friend. ”

For together

“ The combination of portrait medallion and epigraph plate (imparts) to the representation the character of a memorial, the bagged game in the foreground has one thinking of hunting still lives and so reminds of the transitoriness of everything mortal ”

(Stefan Morét in Catalog Darmstadt).

What Morét deduces from the animal accessories is extended directly to Ridinger by later further development of this portrait. For the variant created by Sebastian Walch from the retouched plate, so Stillfried and Schwarz (Th., appendix 3, p. 1 f. + Schwarz I, XX, 4), drops with simultaneous face aging Diana and the scenic accessories outside of the medallion and even sets the mirror, already resting on a pedestal, into the brickwork, thereby bestowing the portrait itself with sepulchral character.

And still in Ridinger’s lifetime from this the reduced anonymous half-length portrait (Th.-St. p. 2; cat. Darmstadt I.1 + ills.) emerged, by this time deprived of everything except for the pedestal: hence also palette and easel within the medallion/mirror. Instead of the brickwork it is set into a heavy curtain with tassel. This reducing development done by several hands from richest picture contents to the bare core of just only portrait, curtain and pedestal proves in a rare singular manner the trains of thought expressed on the aspect of curtain/window on occasion of the self-portrait Th. XXI, 3. Just as these accessories from sepulchre and memorial art lead directly to the sons’ posthumous title sheets for the Wondrous (Th. 242; Schwarz I, plate XII) and the Colored Animal Kingdom (Th. 974; Schwarz I, plate XXX) as “graphic memorials for the father” (Morét).

By  which  the  Haid-Bergmüller  picture  of  Ridinger  is  not  yet  sounded .

Even palette + brushes in their present nice harmlessness lead to the deeper core of the master’s understanding of himself.

Beforehand to the programmatic own ex-libris (Schwarz 1569 + vol. I, frontispiece) with the epitaph (!) “Nulla dies sine linea – No day without brush stroke” expressing his absolute, watered-down by the economic constraints of everyday life though, necessaries of life, a confession that is also reflected in the dismissed copper work “Hippocrene” published here 1998 for the first time.

Then for the renewed meeting with palette, brushes, and the large stone plate appearing again and again in the conventional work in the horrid-great final, the “Rule of Death” (Th.-St. 1427; ills. Niemeyer, op. cit., p. 105) as by the “del(ineavit).” expressly confirmed own work)!

The painter’s equipment from now on amongst the junk! The step beyond the “Self-portrait with Death” in Berlin (cat. Darmstadt I.5 + [color] illustrations)! As a unison with Hogarth who completed his graphic work with the sheet of the Dying Time (Tail Piece, or The Bathos) of April 1764, thus six months before his death.

Just as the heavy curtain used participatingly in the late “Self-portrait in the Studio” as since the Middle Ages a representative of the secret and mystery is provable up to the early period, to the title sheet to the riding school of 1722, so here the painting utensils. Both at first sight repoussoirs of most natural kind. But with what a depth at a closer look!

The  copy  of  Gustav  Ritter  von  Franck

(Vienna 1807 – London 1860) with his round monogram stamp GF on the back lower left, below certainly his autograph rating

Ridinger portrait / provenance detail 2

“belle  Epr(euve)”

in pencil (the expert Sandrart 1675 with respect to the velvety mezzotint technique allowing only small satisfying editions: “50 or 60 … clean impressions”).

Likewise on the back upper center in pencil “franck”, below within an oval “24 Xbr (1)823” as hint for Christmas with which a paraph-like flourished note with possible initial A set off to that should be connected, what would refer to the

brother  Alfred  as  possible  donator , but  probably  also  writer ,

and would correspond with his own collection interests + signatures, see below. Not to be ruled out either

that  the  sheet

Ridinger portrait / provenance detail 1

first  belonged  to  Alfred

and this passed it on to his brother later only.

Outside of the oval finally the line “Luitr (?) M(onsieur) Arteria.” as obvious source reference to the art gallery there established in 1770, which in 1836 sold the in quality highly important portrait collection of the Alsace-born father deceased in 1828, see above, in three parts (4533 lots). That the present sheet originated from his collection appears less probable just because his collection stamp “J. J. v. Franck / Portraits-Sammlung / Nro” (Lugt 949) is not present here.

This  now  immediate  part  of  the  provenance  remarkable  itself

first of all as father and both his sons (“Ses deux fils … étaient également de grands collectionneurs”) formed important collections well-known to literature. Gustav prints + coins, Alfred (1808-1884) drawings, prints, exactly, see above, autographs. Among the former 11 sheet Leonardo caricatures, Altdorfer, van Dyck, Botticelli, several Dürer, sundry Rembrandts, Verschuring, and within the 18th century

“ beaucoup  de  Ridinger , puis  Rugendas , Tiepolo ”.

Both of his backside written pencil collection marks (Lugt 946 f., “franck 5. Nov.” with flourishing underscore + “Afranck [1]863”, the figures in closed oval) quite suggest – though not knowing autographs by Gustav – that the above entry notes could be from Alfred’s hand, even though beside the style this is only supported by the starting f of the former mark and the running out into flourish/oval of the k of both. But in 1823 Alfred was only 15 years old! His career, started as pupil of the academy for engineering in Vienna, changed between military service and the devotion to the arts, in private as professionally. The latter i. a. as professor for drawing at the military academy in Vienna and art teacher of Emperor Franz Joseph. His works in oil + drawings were mostly meant for the landscape, but also portrait subject, else also engravings and some lithographs. His collection of drawings was sold by Prestel in Frankfort/Main in 1889.

Gustav’s career began with studies of philosophy and the law in Vienna with graduation in Padua in 1828, occupation as lawyer and joining the army, however, a duel caused a change of direction. After travels on the Balkan and to Algeria he entered the board of directors of a theatre in Budapest where he married the chanseuse Wirnser. Back in Vienna in 1843 in 1845/47 he redacted the Wiener Zeitschrift für Kunst, Literatur und Mode. The events of 1848 drove him out of the country, in Leipsic he published the Wiener Bote to subsequently move on to London where he stayed for the rest of his life, even though in 1858 he was allowed to return to Austria. Lugt knows the result from the sale of his collections, but not its circumstances in detail.

Summing up this family-interlocked provenance finally mediates the fine en passant message of

taking  up  +  continuing  a  paternal  passion

by the next generation as emanation of a refined self-understanding with the fact as kernel

that  the  nephews  of  Beethoven’s  “Dorothea=Cecilia”

at  the  very  same  time  of  those  great  days

as  15/16  years  old  made  themselves/each  other  happy  with  art

and kept this affection for the whole life.

And quite en passant the obviousness with which collectors of degree rally round them

“ many  Ridinger , followed  by  Rugendas ”

between masters as above. Yesterday like today. Where the presently probably both in quality and quantity leading active Ridinger assembly finds itself embedded within a graphic old master collection of first rate, led by Dürer. Taken over and continued in highlights as second generation.

That “the programmatic mezzotint” (Gode Krämer) Thienemann XX, 2 stood at the beginning of the Franck Ridingeriana sets just this their copy available now here the last dot.

Just this part of the story therefore as exceptional as rare in connection with the back of a print. It would have made happy the didactic Ridinger. For 80 years before he had published his fable suite “for the improvement of the manners (‘by the moral effectiveness of art’, Stefan Morét)  and  especially  for  the  instruction  of  the  youth ”. As a whole, however,

a  provenance  constellation  of  peculiarly  marvelous  charm .

Offer no. 15,221 / EUR  1800. / export price EUR  1710. (c. US$ 1894.) + shipping

„ danke für die prompte Lieferung der beiden hübschen Cassas-Blätter (von Antiochia). Den Überweisungsauftrag gab ich gestern zur Bank. Viele Grüße und ein schönes Wochenende … “

(Herr K. O., 6. Februar 2009)


The  Cream  of  the  Day