A  Spectacular  Discovery

Extremely Rare for Andreani —
Unknown to Literature for Ridinger

Ridinger, Johann Elias (Ulm 1698 – Augsburg 1767). Triumph of Death. Engraving + etching after Andrea Andreani (also Andriani, Andreini, Andreasso, Andrea Mantuano; 1558/59 Mantua 1629) based on his chiaroscuro woodcut after Giovanni Fortuna Fortunius (1535 Siena 1611). Inscribed: Joh. El. Ridinger excud. Aug. Vind. Sheet size 22½ × 16 in (57 × 40.6 cm).

Johann Elias Ridinger, Triumph of Death

Unknown  to  the  respective  literature

on Ridinger up to Wend, Ergänzungen zu den Œuvreverzeichnissen der Druckgrafik (1975), Niemeyer, Die Vanitas-Symbolik bei Joh. El. Ridinger (in L’Art Macabre, vol. 2, 2001, enlarged version in the internet) and the important catalogues of collections, sales, and exhibitions from Weigel (1838) till the present except for the torso with formerly Count Radulf of Castell-Rüdenhausen cut under significant image loss. Thematically though

in  its  iconographic  richness  unreached

by the core of his partly extremely rare, but still known Mementi, the mezzotints Thienemann-Stillfried 1426-1431. And in its composition far from the latter two of those, the brutally realistic ones worked by Johann Jacob after Dieffenbrunner (1430 f.). Here then

the  Memento  Mori  as  piece  of  virtuosity ,

as intellectual challenge combined with an expressive-charming plasticity.

In  its  size  visibly  larger

than Andreani’s colour wood engraving of 1588 worked in his best period in Siena (20⅛ × 13⅜ in [51.1 × 33.9 cm] image size) of which in countless Old Master catalogues of the last decades just one copy of the 2nd state can be proven here which almost quintupled its estimate accordingly (1994). As a whole then missing, too, amongst the not identical respective seven Andreanis of the collections Lanna (1895, + 3 variants) + Davidsohn (1920/21).

This  extreme  rareness  of  Andreani’s  print

( already in 1858 Nagler, Monogramists I, 86: very rare )

imparts  Ridinger’s  leaf  an  additionally  high  evidence .

Andreani’s generally only small œuvre today estimated at c. 70 works (AKL, 1990, and

“ his work is to be valued as historically and art-historically significant today” as Nagler, Monogramists I, 86, recorded already in 1858: “… the extraordinary activity of a man … about whom was often judged too severely since Bartsch … Andreani has to be looked at from a different viewpoint …” and in the same place per 1017: “the famous form cutter” ),

of which a major part falls into the time after 1600 though when he was active in Mantua as dealer and publisher only with him nevertheless putting his monogram on blocks of other artists bought by him. But two works from 1608 and 1610 resp. are considered as original again. Bartsch’s principle stock of 25 plus two uncertain ones not quite up to date in both number and composition. Not affected by this though

the  Triumph  of  Death ,

symbolized by means of an architectural façade. With a death’s head with a snake winding through its mouth mounted plastically in connection with a canopy on the escutcheon as the head piece below an hourglass from which two skeleton arms holding a heavy rock for hurling reach upwards. Below in a rotunda the three Fates. On both sides steeples with caption and differently acting death’s heads below the cross at the top and two also varying skulls at the pedestal. On the square stones below partly carried by two skeletons ITER AD VITAM .

On both sides beyond these skeletons escutcheons hanging down with the inscription BONIS BONA and MALIS MALA resp. To the inner the friends flank a wheel with eight inscribed spokes (on occasion of the Fortunus Nagler speaks of eight beams joining at the hub and communicating with its text), on its upper part on the left Adam and on the right Eve as beautiful mortals. The latter offers, with a wistful look, the infamous apple while caressing suggestively tempting her right breast with her left. Adam, not looking at her, stretches his left to her. The hands of both meet above a death’s head.

This group of the two carnal and skeletonized pairs form in their communication

the  scenic  event  as  such .

Both deaths push their bony elbows into the sides of the human couple. Of which Eve does not take notice. Correspondingly head attitude + facial expression of her Goodman:

Oh , these  women !

His pendant though talking to Adam man to man. Correspondingly thoughtful this with bowed head, additionally holding the right at his forehead.

Between the spokes of the large wheel the eightfold death. Representing in the upper half the clergy, in the lower half the worldliness. The rotating outer inscription STATVTVM EST OMNIBVS HOMINIBVS SEMEL MORI POST HOC AVTEM IVDICIVM. In the center of the hub SVM, vertas, omnibq idem. Rotating in two lines CORNVA VENTRE GERO, NVMEROS IN VERTICE MILLE, / IN PEDE SERPENTEM, DIC MIHI, SVM QVIS EGO? And heading clockwise towards the hub’s text

Vnde superbi / Vt deo placea / Et ideo studea / Terra est quasi fi / Cum nos Terra si / Mortem vitare nequi / De limo homo pri / Quid est nisi li .

Below the wheel and together above an open coffin with a young woman with a cross in her hands the small head of an older bearded man – an even smaller further one at the head’s end of the casket – , flanked on both sides by two large mourners above which are situated a harp’s head in a glory on the left, an owl on the right.

Before and below the coffin first a large text cloth TRIA SVNT VERE QUAE ME FACIVNT FLERE, flanked by the symbolic winged death, two little skulls at the bottom of the coffin, and clergy and worldly attributes with two closed tomes as connecting parts. Far outside on the pedestals of the two skeletons two standing small deaths, each one holding an oval text plate: MEMENTO MORI + MEMORARE NOVISSIMA . The conclusion formed by a text plate joining the whole with Primum quidem durum, quia scio me moriturum Secundu(m) verò plango, quia moriar, et nescio quando. Tertium autem flebo, quia nescio ubi manebo. The decayed walls by the way interspersed with signs of their transitoriness.

Is Andreani’s so-called “Melancholy”, the woman meditating over a death’s head, qualified as “artistically a chief plate” with the addition “thematically extraordinary”, how much more his “Triumph of Death” taken up here by Ridinger as a

“ Pasticcio of iconographic, iconologic, and artistic quotes ” .

As being

extremely  rare  for  Andreani

(generally Thieme-Becker speak of “the great rareness of the leaves” ) ,


almost-unicum  for  Ridinger .

Here then in a fine, not quite contemporary impression on lines-free paper with wordmark watermark and surrounding fine margin around the image’s borderline. Only here and there trimmed closely to it. The certain agemarkedness countered by professional restorative means as the backside (water) spottiness shines only partially quite lightly through to the picture side. In the hatched marginal field lower right written note on the artist only barely visible anymore. Shortly ,

a  rarissimum  looking  for  its  equals  of  fine  total  impression .

Offer no. 29,077 / price on application

„ I have seen your excellent promo for this item (referring the Diego Ribeiro map) and I may be interested in acquiring it for a very important gift … “

(Mr. M. A. B., December 5, 2008)


The  Cream  of  the  Day