Memorialized Bucephalus

Ridinger, Johann Elias (Ulm 1698 – Augsburg 1767). Cheval sauvage on le laisse dans le desert jusque dans la troisieme ou quatrieme, apres on le dresse pour l’usage, n’a qu’un quelque sois deux de petits, on s’en sert 15. ou 20. ans. The Wild Horse is left in the Wild up to the 3rd and 4th Year, then trained for use; mostly foals only one, now and then 2. Foals; they serve for use 15. to 20. Years. In mountainous parts “full of courage and fire, bounding over an old trunk lying across the way”. Flying the curled crest, the head turned to the right. Etching and engraving. (1736.) Inscribed: 40. / Cum Priv. Sac. Cæs. Majest. / I. El. Ridinger inven. pinx. sculps. et exc. Aug. Vind., otherwise as above in German, French, Latin, & below. 13¾ × 16⅞ in (34.9 × 42.8 cm).

Johann Elias Ridinger, The Wild Horse

Thienemann & Schwarz 235. – Plate 40 of the STUDY OF THE WILD ANIMALS with the caption of the Hamburg pope of poets, jurist & senator, yet foremost friend of Ridinger’s, Barthold Heinrich Brockes (1680-1747), in German. – With WANGEN watermark as so characteristic for contemp. impressions. – Margins on three sides 3.7-4.2, above 2.7 cm wide. – Professionally done tear in the wide white lower margin.

The  final  chord  of  this – once  more ! –

so  incomparably  beautiful  Ridinger  suite ,

grasped by the overwhelmed Brockes as follows ,

to  which  Thienemann  shouts  a  triumphant “Bravo!”:

“ Dost not the ground shake and shiver? What a trampling one hears here? what a snorting fills the air! a wild yet fine animal gallops along in full run … As this animal a masterpiece by the creative nature , so is the figure created here by few lines ,

also  the  master’s  masterpiece .

Let this picture be the last one ,

I cannot follow you any further Ridinger , or else paint alone .”

“ (Alexander the Great) astonished his father and the court, by his dexterity in managing the horse Bucephalus … (which) could be compared to (none) for beauty or vigor … When the parties had reached a plain where the horse’s speed and temper were to be tried; and one of the king’s grooms attempted to mount him, the animal, refusing to be touched,

reared  and  plunged  violently ;

and  his  fierceness  made  each … who  approached  to  mount  him ,

relinquish the attempt. Philip regarding so wild and unmanageable an animal as useless, desired that he might be led away. Alexander, however, on hearing this order, cried out:

‘ What  an  excellent  horse  we  are  going  to  loose ,

for  want  of  address  and  boldness  to  mount  him ! ’

The king at first considered this exclamation to proceed from juvenile rashness; but on Alexander’s insisting that it was practicable to ride the horse, permitted him to make the experiment, on condition that he should forfeit the price demanded for it if he failed.

The young prince, exulting, advanced to Bucephalus, and seized his bridle; he had observed that the animal had started at the motion of his own shadow, he therefore turned his head toward the sun. Still the horse’s fury is not much abated; Alexander strokes his mane, and speaks to him in a soothing voice. Still the horse foams with rage; but the prince, having gently thrown aside his cloak, vaults into the saddle. Bucephalus, unused to obey, plunges, rears, strikes up his hind-feet, tosses his neck and head, and struggles to overcome the controul of the bit, in order that he may dart away ungoverned. Alexander relaxes the for ward rein, at the same moment spurring the horse, and with cheering tones animating him to exert all his swiftness. After flying over a long space, the wearied animal showed an inclination to stop; the prince, again spurring him, kept him at his full speed till his spirit was entirely subdued. After which, he returned with the horse gentle and tractable.

When the prince alighted, his father, embracing him with tears of joy and kissing him, said:

‘ My  son , seek  out  a  larger  empire ,

for  Macedon  is  too  small  for  so  vast  a  spirit .

Bucephalus ever afterwards obeyed Alexander with uniform submission, while he maintained his original fierceness towards other persons. The noble animal accompanied his master through successive labours and dangers, till he was killed in the battle against Porus (May 326 B.C. at the Indian Hydaspes).

‘ Alexander  taming  his  horse, ’  was  a  subject

which  the  most  eminent  artists  of  that  age  were  emulous  to  celebrate ”

(Curtius Rufus, The History of the Life and Reign of Alexander the Great, London 1809, vol. I, pp. 34 ff.; here available the German edition Frankfort/Main 1783 in 2 vols. per 16,117).

Albrecht Dürer, The Great Horse (Bucephalus)
Albrecht Dürer,
The Great Horse
For his Alexander works – Siege and Conquest of Halicarnassus & Passage of the Tigris – from the early 1720s Ridinger followed just this source of Curtius Rufus. In such a way, however, beyond question that by his The Wild Horse of 1736 he himself in turn memorialized Bucephalus. By the way according to Mende’s most recent research also Dürer’s Great Horse (ill. Klassiker der Kunst IV, 117; Hollstein 94) is a representation of Alexander with Bucephalus.

Of  shining-marvelous  quality & therefore  rarity

for even in exemplary old Ridinger collections the old impressions of particularly this so fine large-sized main set frequently figure as closely trimmed, damaged, and fully mounted. So including present one 1894 with Reich auf Biehla, while Coppenrath (1889) could not get hold of this sujet at all.

Offer no. 16,130 / EUR  1230. / export price EUR  1169. (c. US$ 1274.) + shipping

“ Thank you Mr. Niemeyer – I will take it! … It should look very nice in my new office. Best regards ”

(Mr. J. R. L., January 6, 2006)


The  Cream  of  the  Day