Johann Elias Ridinger, African Donkey (recte Quagga)

1778 described for the first time — 1878 already extinct

The Quagga of the South African Plains

in a “quite well-made illustration”

Ridinger, Johann Elias (Ulm 1698 – Augsburg 1767). African Donkey (recte quagga, a sub-species of the zebras). Lying to the left, of reddish base color. Glazed colored etching with engraving. Inscribed: ZEBRA vel ZECORA. / Africanischer Esel. / Ane Afriquain. / Familia I. Einhufige. / Ex Collection: Dr. Sloan a. London: / Joh. El. Ridinger fecit et excud. Aug. Vindel. 12⅛ × 8 in (30.8 × 20.4 cm).

Thienemann & Schwarz 980. – IN  THE  RIDINGERS’  ORIGINAL  COLORING  from the unnumbered Colored Animal Kingdom created since 1754 and concluded finally posthumously not before 1773 (“Complete copies are next to untraceable”, so Weigel, Art Cat., part XXVIII, Ridinger Appendix 63a as merely 120-sheet torso, 1857 ! , but also just individual plates quite rarely on the market only, at niemeyer’s presently nevertheless the one as the others). – Remaining uncolored contrary to the prospectus, a second edition from the plates shortened even under loss of animals and with modified titling and the Ridinger inscription removed, yet now numbered, was published by Engelbrecht/Herzberg in Augsburg 1824/25.

Final state with the Familia line within the caption slightly moved up after the removal of the “2. (sic!, the base from which regularly the Q is developed) D. S. IV.” as reference to Jacob Theodor Klein’s Quadrupedum dispositio brevisque Historia Naturalis of 1751 unbeknown to Thienemann.

With Klein (“Plinius Gedanensium”, Königsberg 1685 – Danzig 1759; town clerk in Danzig, later director of the Society of Naturalists Danzig co-founded by him, member of the Royal Society, London, and honorary member of the Russian Academy of Sciences in Saint Petersburg; ADB XVI, 92 ff.), famous for his collections, Ridinger was in close communication and supported in his Colored Animal Kingdom undertaking in many ways, too. Following Klein’s classification according to kind and number of extremities – superceded by Linné’s anatomical classification – the early states of some plates of the set still show references to his Quadrupedum dispositio brevisque Historia Naturalis of 1751, as known to Thienemann for some plates and documented here for several more by a complete copy available here. Ridinger himself emphasizes by the preface in his words of thanks “in particular the tremendously beautiful collection of P(rofessor). Klein of the Ludolph estate, which comprises nothing but original items.”

Early representation of the species described only 1778 by Pieter Boddaert :

“ These names are all wrong. We have here the quite well-made illustration of Equus Quagga, which is similar to the zebra, but is essentially different already by color as belly and hands always show white ”

(Th.). And Ridinger’s sons in the preamble to pt. I, pp. 12 f. (enclosed in copy):

“ Their head as well as the whole body and the hands are adorned with stripes which are so beautiful and even that they hardly can be drawn so fine and exactly. Each one has some variation in both the drawing and the color itself, too, just as we ourselves own 6. to 7. varying original drawings, among which there is especially one by Mister Hamilton, former Imperial Royal Court Painter in Vienna, according to which this animal again has quite different stripes and another base color than shows in these representations. Were they in regard of painting not so very toilsome we could and would communicate all such to the connoisseurs … In the size and height they surpass our donkeys and I myself have seen a natural skin of this animal … ”

Present plate, however, after a design of British naturalist Sir Hans Sloane (1660-1753) whose collections became the foundation of the British Museum.

With typographic watermark C & I Honig as that sturdy Dutch quality paper Ridinger used in line with his preamble to the Principal Colors of Horses

“on  account  of  the  fine  illumination”  for  the  colored  works

“as for this purpose it is the most decent and best”. – Margins on three sides 2.5-3.5 cm, below 5 cm wide. – In the white text field two quite faint pinhead-sized small brown spots.

Offer no. 16,139 / EUR  690. / export price EUR  656. (c. US$ 758.) + shipping

Ridinger’s Colored Animal Kingdom in Original Coloring

available in

A Great Plenitude of Individual Plates


An Absolutely Exceptional Complete Provenance Copy

  1. “famous work which the merited naturalist Jacob Theodor Klein in Danzig published 1751 under the title: Quadrupedum Dispositio brevisque Historia Naturalis. Enlarged and revised, he had translated it into the German himself and his friend Gottfried Reyger published it 1760 under the title: J. Th. Klein’s Natural Order and Augmented History of the Quadruped Animals. Ridinger was in close communication with Klein, was supported by him in many ways in this (Animal Kingdom) undertaking and followed Klein’s system” (Th., p. 200)

„ das ‚Haupt-Schwein‘ ist gut … angekommen und gefällt … falls sich weitere Funde … auftun, freue ich mich über Ihre Nachricht “

(Herr W. S., 29. August 2002)


The  Cream  of  the  Day