Ridinger–Par Force Hunt  Etchings

as  Oil  Paintings

by  Georg  Adam  Eger  or  his  Circle

Ridinger, Johann Elias (Ulm 1698 – Augsburg 1767) + Georg Adam Eger (? 1727 Murrhardt 1808). Two etchings from Ridinger’s Par Force Hunt of the Stag in their plain image size printed on grounded sheet zinc, executed as oil paintings in the colors of Hesse-Darmstadt by Eger or his circle, probably partially with use of tempera. Supposedly 1764/68. 10¼ × 18⅝ in (26.2 × 47.2 cm). In green-bright gold frame.


(Fine Hunting Bag — Pictures of Hunting)

Dr. Hanns Simon Foundation Bitburg

January 13 – March 3, 2013


Catalog Book to the Exhibition

Pages 90-93 (double full-page color illustrations) + 149

Kölsch, Gg. Adam Eger

(Hunting Painter at the Court of Hesse-Darmstadt,

Catalog of the Works in the Museum Hunting Seat Kranichstein), 2010

Thieme-Becker, Eger, X (1914), 369; Siebert, Kranichstein, (Hunting Seat of the Landgraves of Hesse-Darmstadt), 1969; Hofmann, (Guide through the Darmstadt Hunting Museum Kranichstein Castle), 1981; Michel, (Ancestors and Relatives of the Animal Painter and Engraver) Joh. Elias Ridinger in (Papers of the Bavarian State Association for Genealogical Research), vol. XV, 1987, 396-414.

Johann Elias Ridinger, The Relays Are Set Out by the Commander of the Hunt Johann Elias Ridinger, The Relays Are Set Out by the Commander of the Hunt

(The Relays are set out by the Commander of the Hunt)

Thienemann 53. – Sheet 5 of the set, at the same time title sheet of its second part. – “To keep order with this number of humans and animals … exact places have been assigned by the most noble leaders of the hunt where the relay horses, the different braces of dogs, together with their mounted leaders, should stop. Our sheet is filled with such troops partly stopping, partly moving ahead in divisions. The stewards are busy quite in front.”

Offer no. 28,968 / price on application

Johann Elias Ridinger, The Stag Turns to Bay in the Water, the Hounds are Ceased and He Receives the Coup de grâce Johann Elias Ridinger, The Stag Turns to Bay in the Water, the Hounds are Ceased and He Receives the Coup de grâce

(The Stag turns to Bay in the Water, the Hounds are ceased and He receives the Coup de Grâce)

Thienemann 61. – Sheet 13 of the set, at the same time title sheet of its fourth and final part. – “The whole party has assembled around the water.”

Offer no. 28,969 / price on application

Here  unequalled  unique  items

from  the  group  of  the  “ sheet-metal  paintings ”

at  the  court  in  Darmstadt

as  autonomous  paintings  of  most  beautiful  appeal

and  with  respect  to  the  hardly  ever  occurring  of  own  Ridinger  oil

singularly  charming  Ridinger  top  items

whose uniforms are “designed in the colors of the landgraves, later grand-dukes of Hesse-Darmstadt. Especially by Georg Adam Eger … there exist quite a number of hunting paintings which correspond almost down to details with your colors” (German Hunting and Fishery Museum).

Engaged 1748 at the court of Darmstadt as just 21-years-old for the superintendence of the painting of the legendary so-called Imperial Presentation Clock, he belonged beside the brothers Knaus as the mechanics 1750 to the train of four, who presented the showpiece in Vienna on occasion of the 5th anniversary of Emperor Franz I and the 10th of his spouse Maria Theresa as Queen of Hungary.

Yet irrespective of the esteem Louis showed towards him – see below – and presumed appointment as chamber hussar 1756 he was promoted one of the court painters in 1765 only. But just as the second of these, while the same day the position of the First Court Painter, having become vacant by Johann Christian Fiedler’s death 1765, was filled with somebody else. Yet even without title Gisela Siebert qualifies him, endorsing Count Hardenberg’s judging of 1918, as “most talented court hunt painter. Depictions of (particularly) the par force hunt and the Dianaburg”. And further

“ Only Adam Georg Eger becomes the true painter of the par force hunt in KranichsteinLouis VIII (1691 Darmstadt 1768, ruling since 1738, “the greatest nimrod of his time”, Hofmann) must have esteemed Eger quite a lot, wished to have him as steady companion on the hunt and commissioned him with a court hunting uniform to put him on a par with the huntsmen, also called him intimately ‘his old mate’. Eger’s paintings were frequently copied by another Hesse-Darmstadt hunting painter, Nikolaus Michael Spengler, in the rare manner of glass pictures, certainly on the landgrave’s request. ”

By the latter, too, then presumably the “glass picture of a Hunt with Hawking Birds (as) a copy after Ridinger”.

The relation Ridinger-Eger seems to date back to a stay of the latter in Augsburg before 1748, from where he should have gone directly to Darmstadt through the intermediary of the Darmstadt court mechanic and clockmaker Ludwig Knaus. The latter stayed in Augsburg 1748 “to superintend there the production of the box of the (above) presentation clock from silver and tortoise-shell”. See on this Kölsch pp. 11/II & 26/II together with footnotes 4 & 78. But also Joseph Prince of Hesse-Darmstadt as from 1740-1768 prince bishop at Augsburg might, rather should have been instrumental in the later close relation of the Ridingers to the court in Darmstadt.

After Eger’s designs Martin Elias (Thieme-Becker erroneously “Joh. El.”) worked seven (Kölsch 25/I erroneously 5) engravings, that is Th. 318/319 (as the only ones of these with also reference to his father, “direxit et excud. Aug. Vind.”), 339, 340, 352, 373 & 1378. At which with regard to Darmstadt the matter not nearly rests. For inclusive of five sheets of the afore-mentioned group at least 13 works – Th. 292, 297, 299, 300, 305, 318, 319, 332, 339, 340, 342, 356, 1378 and by this most of those which can be attributed by name – are dedicated to Louis VIII and his reign, six of them worked entirely by Johann Elias alone and one jointly with Martin.

It shall be reminded in this connection finally of Brieger’s however not yet thoroughly discussed and presumably rather unfounded remark according to which Ridinger had been

“ constantly on the road from one court to the other, from one hunting seat to the other in Germany to glorify the respective hunting master in his triumph about a stag of fourteen points a little in the style of historically memorable events ”

([The Genre Painting], 1922, page 165).

The discussion of this close contact is important for both the artistic as also the chronological classification of present sheet-metal paintings. For since microscopical examinations on the basis of picture Th. 61 in both the Regional Museum Bonn and the Municipal Art Collections Augsburg – repeated thanks for this to Mrs. Kalus and Mr. Beier – have revealed unobjectionably that the painting was not done on mounted impressions on paper, for which according to the kind information of the paper restorer of the Art Museum Bonn, Mrs. Büttner, sheet-zinc would not be suitable just for pure technical reasons, yet the plates show in every detail the entire image part of the etchings, they therefore must be, as known as quite possible, direct impressions from the original plates onto the grounding of the plate-zinc. This, however, inevitably requires the co-operation of the Ridingers, as then indeed given by the afore-mentioned close nexus.

The background of such a treatment beyond the daily scope is provided by the corresponding habits of Louis VIII. His imaginativeness, however, was proverbial. He

“ invented again and again new equipment and tools for the hunt … He owned game transport carriages and mobile hunting lodges which could be heated. Furthermore carriages with swivel-chairs to be able to shoot to all sides. Besides vehicles, too, on which one sat astraddle on a center leather-covered part and which had a compartment for the hounds at the rear end ”

(Hofmann, op. cit., page 8).

And for instance the name of his personal hound Cesar portrayed almost in life-size by Zacharias Sonntag had to be set in brass letters onto the painted splendid collar. In this context that small stool in the hunting parlor at Kranichstein with its four leather-bound volumes “whose title is ‘Voyage des Pays bas’ should be mentioned, too. This ‘Voyage through the Netherlands’ turns out to be a room toilet though”. Also the bedrooms there “– one may hear and be amazed – had already in the year 1568 its own toilet each what was hardly imaginable for those days” (Hofmann, op. cit., pp. 11 & 13).

This downright court-specific inventive frame not least filled by the sheet-metal painting under Louis VIII, too. Its function was manifold. To begin with it was meant to capture in picture and explanatory text oddnesses of the hunt itself, thus analogously to Ridinger’s engravings of the Wondrous Stags, Th. 242 ff., or the Special Events and Incidents at the Hunt, Th. 343 ff., at which it may be regarded as possible that this sort of depiction is based on mutual fructification. For both Ridinger sets correspond chronologically with the habits at Darmstadt. At which the latter also included in the painting the hunting setting as hunting lodges and the like as memories worth to be remembered. For Darmstadt this is documented not just at all, but by a very early model. That is that hunting sketchbook preserved in the palace museum there which recorded, first in loose sheets, such incidents since 1742 in verse and image and which was bound in 1751 :

“ In this book there is a large number of mostly unusual hunting events set in verses (these by the forester Johann Christoph Rautenbusch) and furnished with pictures, at which date and place are not missing … The colored illustrations were provided by the landgrave’s hunting painters, foremost certainly Eger … They seem to have been frequently model for painted metal plates, too, intended to be mounted at the respective place in wood or field. Many of these delightful plates have been collected in the museum after they were brought out of the forests again in the early (20th) century to preserve them ”

(Siebert, op. cit., pp. 90 ff. and, in respect of the same for buildings, 82).

And likewise Hofmann pp. 8 f.:

“ This was only possible because a large number of painters belonged to (Louis’) hunting suite who had to record in picture all events which happened during stalking or the par force hunts … Thereby, just as with the small stag portraits, such painted on sheet-metal catch our eyes. These all are items which had been mounted in the wood at poles where the depicted stag had been shot, where previously a hunting-lodge had been or where a remarkable event deserved to be handed down to future generations. ”

Yet not enough by this, for, so Hofmann at the same place and p. 13 resp.,

“ To many … relatives and his high-ranking friends, as the emperor in Vienna, too, he sent copies of the already mentioned (tinny) stag portraits (just as we send photographs today) to report what hunting luck Diana has blessed him with. ”


“ always it is an evidence of how far the Hesse-Darmstadt hunt spread its message into the country and gave spurs to its artists for high performances for about 1750 (besides the portrait court painters) no less than 4 court hunting painters were employed permanently. ”

Ridinger, Sheet-metal Painting Parforce Hunt (back)
The zinc back

Coinciding with this environment present painting overs, executed likewise on plate-zinc, from Ridinger’s Par Force Hunt, which originally should have been done as complete set of all 16 stations and in every aspect correspond quite singularly with Louis’ predilections.

Shining  in  the  local  colors , dark  in  the  wood  parts ,

silvery  cool  in  the  treatment  of  the  sky

of Th. 53, the palette is apparently influenced by the etched design, which latter for instance does not intend the Darmstadt post horn of the saddlecloth. That the bow at the tricorne is held in blue instead of red here meets its counterpart in various color divergences of the Eger attribution of item 1 of the catalog raisonné, thus not only in the scope of the rejected works and copies (48 ff.). Besides the unsigned works of Eger and his assistants, so Wolfgang Weitz, co-founder of Stiftung Hessischer Jägerhof, largely not to be distinguished from each other. Gode Krämer, custos emeritus for paintings at the Augsburg Art Collections, draws the chronological scope as for the various aspects certainly too late from the late 18th to early 19th century. For as

center  piece  of  these

the  nexus  fostered  between  Eger  and  the  Ridingers

should be considered, at which of the latters both Johann Elias himself as partly by the works referring to Louis – here plate dates from already 1753, Th. 299 f. – and Martin Elias, deceased 1780, are possible as engravers of Eger’s designs. They concern the sets of the Wondrous Stags (1768) and the Special Events and Incidents at the Hunt (1779) finished/published posthumously by the sons (Johann Jacob’s decease 1784 would be an unreservedly supposed final chronological mark for the part of the Ridingers, but see below, too), among which with Th. 373 one of Hohenlohe of 1775, and the special position Th. 1378, both per Eger/Martin Elias. Since also the set of 1779 is based beside Eger completely or yet predominantly on drawings by Johann Elias, deceased 1767, the actual co-operation concerns the years before 1768, Th. 1378 included. Belonging to the complex of the Princely Persons mounted on Horseback, the latter shows Louis VIII who died mid-October 1768. With his passing away Eger’s vocation in Darmstadt came to an abrupt stop.

“ On Eger’s life in the following four decades hardly written sources have become known so far. However, the preserved and for the most part remarkably quality, though likewise almost not researched paintings from this period permit to impute his activity for the princes of Hohenlohe (note: so then also Th. 352 as an incident of 1763) in Murrhardt as well as in the Imperial City Schwäbisch Hall. By the inscription ‘G. A. Eger / Hofmaler / Murrhardt’ Friedrich Christoph Dötschmann’s portrait of 1783 (cat. no. 96) obviously quotes the old office as court painter in Darmstadt as well as the then residence. Since the meager sources on Eger’s family are found likewise exclusively in Murrhardt parish registers, the painter should have lived there predominantly. Probably Eger’s old bonds with his native town had caused him already 1768 to move directly from Darmstadt to the Murr … Yet Eger does not seem to have held an official position as (Hohenlohe) court painter ”

(Kölsch, op. cit., page 14, at the same time going more deeply into Gisela Siebert’s remarks in this connection; her date of 1776 for the occurrence at the Eschollmühle mentioned on page 73 – painted by Eger about 1767, Kölsch 15, and engraved after this by Heinrich Philipp Bosler, K. 16 [“After 1767”] & Weitz, Bosler. Büchsenmacher und Kupferstecher in Darmstadt, 2001, page 13 [before January 26, 1769 the latest] – by the way a twist of numbers for, exactly, 1767).

While above aspects – sheet-metal  painting  under  Louis VIII  with especially purge of the “hunting nonsense which had become a habit during the reign of his father” (Meyer’s Konversations-Lexikon, 4th ed.) by the successor Louis IX & quality  of  the  painting  with  Hesse-Darmstadt  colors – speak plausibly for a creation of present works by Eger or his circle still under Louis VIII or, at the most, before May 1784 as the decease of the last of the three male Ridingers with in regard of the colors explicit exclusion of Hohenlohe orders, so two other trains of thought as furthermore in chronological conformity with Gode Krämer shall be pursued, too.

So for once Wolfgang Weitz particularly reminds of the preserving devotion towards cultural assets of the hunt pursued with verve during the first decade under the grandson-successor Louis X (from 1790, as Grand Duke Louis I from 1806). But just preserving, not creating new. Nevertheless this period would include Eger just as on the part of the Ridingers the heirs. And, so Kölsch 37/II, Louis X had revived the par force hunt already as hereditary prince.

Of the Ridinger heirs, however, on the other hand Johann Jacob Ridinger’s second wife, Sophia Juliana Rosina née Ammerbacher from Langenburg in Hohenlohe, is of interest, who married as widow 1785 Johann Friedrich Wilhelm , merchant and art  publisher in Augsburg, whom relations to the family Wilhelm there should be supposed to as by marriage sole proprietor from 1758 the latest till 1827 of the Martin Engelbrecht Art Shop and by this since 1821 the latest also of the Ridinger publishing house from the fund of which 1824/25 the comprehensive new editions of Ridinger’s œuvre including the Par Force Hunt set were arranged, probably as brother of Paul Martin Wilhelm as since 1787 sole proprietor of Engelbrecht, whose younger brother Gottlieb Tobias for instance was author of the lavishly illustrated 28-volumes publication Conversations from Natural History. On the various partitions in the history of the publishing house see Schott, Martin Engelbrecht und seine Nachfolger, 1924, pp. 11 ff. Assumed Johann Frdr. Wilhelm is not mentioned in this, but p. 30, footnote 2, Schott mentions wholesale “the various families of Wilhelm that were at home in Augsburg and mostly blessed with a great number of children”.

Ridinger’s widow, Sophia Juliana Rosina (1748-1827), could have been at thought time beside Rosina Barbara Ridinger (1776-1846) as Johann Jacob’s daughter from the 1st marriage – Martin Elias was not married and the marriage of his sister Regina (1732-1774) remained childless, five further siblings died in earliest infancy – Ridinger coheiress. And for once have continued or reactivated the old connection to Eger meanwhile active in Hohenlohe and for twice contributed the plates of the Par Force Hunt.

Yet  compared  with  above  plausibly  embedded  genesis

these  trains  of  thought  appear  as  of  rather  hypothetical  nature .

For unspectacular reprints aside, also for the part of the Ridinger heirs just no relevant activities have become known. And Engelbrecht/Wilhelm’s 1824 subscription prospectus, including Herzberg’s art shop there as co-publisher, for the above reprint program 16 years after Eger’s decease announces additionally just colored versions of the paper prints, which even seem to have not happened anyway. The next comprehensive so-called Leipsic, then Berlin, reprints on besides unsuitable paper as characteristic for that time then date from c. 1850 continuously only. Yet through the decades here, too, the publication notices in this connection reveal no evidence for something else but the conventional impressions. In such a manner the Kranichstein sheet-metal painting after Eger with the Darmstadt lob-eared stag quoted by Kölsch (ills. 15, “supposedly mid-19th century”) appears as singular.

And so present sheet-metal paintings in their symbiosis of “mature art of engraving” (Wolf Stubbe, former director of the Hamburg print room in his Johann Elias Ridinger of 1966 on the Par Force Hunt set) and the color delicacy of an Eger should indeed originate in the sphere of that “hunting nonsense”, the remains of which Louis X endeavored to reestablish in their due rights. Just as then generally

“ (the) later successors (of Louis VIII have) preserved … these things in the 19th century with the inclination to collect obliged to their period. This way a plenty of hunting-historical news has come down to us, not of general kind, but

ordered  by  the  masters  themselves ,

whose  time , customs  and  practices  they  portray … ”

They are

“ mirror of a baroque zest for living for the exhibition of which the chased game is just the cause … This is the foil before which one has to see the numerous depictions of the par force hunt in Kranichstein. Also the fact that one has recorded it that frequently, that one kept court hunting painters for this purpose, is part of this courtly representation ”

(Siebert, op. cit., pp. 33 & 56 f.).

Of this spirit then also present plates. As at the same time

most  exquisite  Ridingeriana

as then Ridinger generally – so to speak as a further trace to the history of creation of the present ones – enjoyed greatest esteem at the court at Darmstadt. So Hofmann pp. 12 f. with respect to Kranichstein:

“ This hallway … got a quite special designation in the last years. All hunters who concern themselves with the tradition of their profession strive to purchase engravings … by Joh. Elias Ridinger. He has created various sets which represent a great value today. The most important one is that of the ‘Wondrous Stags’. It shows about 90 of those ‘with antlers’ (an untranslatable pun in German: ‘Geweiht’ as both ‘with antlers’ and “sacred’) which have been shot by noble men in their estates. Here in Kranichstein alone 12 such trophies have been preserved … To these are now added the engravings by Ridinger. Here thus succeeded what elsewhere seems hardly possible, to personify the stag that impressive that he now must appear to us as a housemate … A Ridinger room presents several engravings which have nothing in common with the ones already mentioned (afore). ”

The set of the Par Force Hunt itself as one in every regard differentiating work of the late period qualified by Rolf Biedermann (Catalog 1967, 3rd page of the introduction) with the words

“ In the course (of his) activity as engraver Ridinger changed his principles of creation with continuing maturity in the sense of a more uniform image effect. That can be demonstrated at two thematically similar examples: conveys the set ‘The Princes’ Hunting Pleasure’ created 1729 in the landscape details a comparably torn general aspect which shows without differentiation of the foreground, middle distance and background values throughout a set off of darker from light parts, so in the set ‘The Par Force Hunt of a Stag’ to be dated about 30 years later the consistency of the image field achieved by uniform light effect and greater equalization of the tone values prevails. Added to this a deep spatial formation of the landscapes and a closer clamping of the figure compositions. ”

Dated preparatory drawings proven for 1746-1753, of the engravings two inscribed with 1756. This thus then the time in question. And whoever may have had the idea of a painterly version of this set or the wish for such one, the chronological coincidence harmonizes vastly. And “The true painter of the par force hunt in Kranichstein” (Siebert) was just Eger,

inspired  not  least  by  Ridinger .

Because “For some of Eger’s par force hunts for instance prints by Johann Elias Ridinger have to be assumed as impulse” (Kölsch page 21/I). And speaking of qualified presumption present two sheet-metal paintings should be part of an originally complete set of 16, Gerhard Kölsch shall be quoted once more with the statement

“ Presumably after the appointment a second court painter 1765 three par force hunts with Louis VIII, certainly conceived as small cycle, were created. ”

(page 13/II; spacing not in the original).

All  thus  speaks  for  the  above  plausibility  of  the  attribution  of  present  paintings .

Their condition utterly fine. The certain granularity to the opinion of the concerned restorers either traces of oxidation of the plates or resulting from their roughening for better adhesion, yet not jeopardizing the painting. Also the varnish were healthy. In short ,

plates  to  seize  the  opportunity .

Plates  which  counter  the  almost  oilless  Ridinger  market

most  magnificently .

For already the just 50-year-old had “nevermore believed that (he) would take the brush once more” as he expressed by letter of June 29, 1748 towards Wille in Paris (Décultot, Espagne & Werner [ed.], Joh. Gg. Wille, [Correspondence], 1999, page 76), at the same time complaining that he could not yet evade to accept a corresponding renewed desire of Catherine the Great at Petersburg for four further paintings. For the ones presently there see Nikulin, The Hermitage Catalogue of Western European Painting XIV (1987), 284-287.

Further single plates from the Par Force Hunt
presently available here :

The Par Force Horses are led onto the Rendevous (Th. 51)

“ the book has arrived! Many thanks for your helpfulness! Have a nice day, and kind regards ”

(Mr. S. S., May 9, 2016)


The  Cream  of  the  Day