Following for the Course of the Year Dresden’s Question

“ What is BEAUTIFUL ? ”

As theme of the big special exhibition of the Deutsches Hygiene-Museum at the Lingnerplatz March 27, 2010 – January 2, 2011 for whose catalog volume niemeyer’s could provide the illustrations for Hogarth’s Analysis of Beauty. Just started the show only ends after entering the next new year. Until January 2, 2011, therefore beauty scent search on all levels. Viewed & “questioned”. Individually , per guided tours, and – of course – international conference , panel discussion , lectures & cultural events ! When everything is so plain simple. And the exhibition folder decides the question beforehand. By illustration of the classical Dresden Boy of the Staatliche Kunstsammlungen Dresden. I can tell which way art is blowing …

Voilà , niemeyer’s , always right in the midst , takes part on his stage , his way . And presents as prelude originating from Watteau Ridinger’s

Lady  with  the  Black  Mask

Johann Elias Ridinger, The Lady with the Black Mask

in her as sensible as beautiful meditation on all the mask-like. For

“ Different  from  the  outside  than  on  the  inside .

Black  on  the  outside  and  masked , on  the  inside  white  and  beautiful .

Oh!  some  one  sees  black  going  in  white  mask .”

Watteau in his purity showed, except for the harlequin, always the unmasked face, the mask only an attributive inspirer of an inside and outside. With just the result already anticipated by the Dresden folder that

art  alone  is  lastingly  beautiful .

On all its levels. Up to scenic now grandeur, then poetry, of another origin.

Under just this premise thus niemeyer’s will present month by month his subjectively made AHA Selection of the lasting-beautiful to your now in your turn subjective judgement. Up to the invisible the beauty of which is perceptible only by the soul. niemeyer’s then also in this regard on the height of the delight of discussion, too. Just visit him regularly for an

interesting  AHA-beautiful  event

new at the start of each month on the web per

« I  just  have




absolute  beauty »

Helmut Hentrich

Follows the  praising  of  the  Lady with the Black Mask . Describing advantageously her charms , her reflecting , her even features, free of the emptiness of literal beauties. Shortly ,

exceedingly  beautiful & splendidly  preserved

and in wall-filling precious draping she sits before us. And  of  family ! Without being able to say anything final just the presumptions are sufficient ! Beyond all ugly , outside as inside .

However , by  this  a  rarity  of  degree ,

a  promise  of  downright  exclusive  possession .

But, gentlemen, let it melt on the tongue yourself what monseigneurs all had to do without the latter, irrespective of all their panting. Only the devil looks after his own – and the antiquary after his …

the  mezzotint  in  its  royal  size  of  19⅛ × 13¾ in (48.6 × 34.9 cm) ,

inscribed  with  I. El. Ridinger excud. A. V.

and  the  above  caption  pregnant  with  interpretation

in German & Latin.

Having been present according to the research here and adequately proudly made a fuss of it at, of course, the Ritter von Gutmann (1910; Schwarz 1458 & plate II, XVII) , in the Ridinger assembly of a grandee remaining discreetly anonymous at Boerner XXXIX, 2053 (“Somewhat damaged, and stained“, 1885) and, precisely, precisely, at Counts Faber-Castell (1958) 154.

Come  away  empty-handed , however , otherwise yet so noble addresses as pastor Thienemann (1856) together with Count Stillfried (1876) , the Leipsic Ridinger nabob Weigel (art stock catalog, pt. I-XXVIII (1838/57; more than 1000 R. sheet of the etched/engraved work) , the Regensburg Ridinger hunter Coppenrath (1889/90) , the Ridinger gourmet at Wawra (1890; beside 234 drawings 600 prints) , the blueblood Reich auf Biehla (1894; “Of all [R. collections] which [have been traded] since long with respect to completeness and quality none can even remotely compete with the present one … especially the rarities and undescribed sheets, which are represented in rich numbers”; 1266 sheet plus 470 duplicates & 20 drawings) , the market sweeper Ökonomierat Georg Hamminger (1895) , dealer prince Helbing in Munich (1900; catalog XXXIV, dedicated to the Arbeiten von J. E. und M. E. Ridinger in 1554 lots) and the house of Rosenthal there (1940; Ridinger listing with 444 nos.).

Mounted by old at the corners on especially wide-margined buff laid paper which is slightly browned at three outer margins. – Three sides almost throughout with tiny margins, only on the left predominantly trimmed to platemark.

According to Schwarz “reverse copy after Coypel ‘Mad. de ** (Mouchy) en habit de Bal’, engraved by L. Surugue” (thus in reverse after Surugue and therefore again in the same direction as Coypel as then the mask rests also again in the right hand). – Identical with Thieme-Becker’s (Charles-Antoine Coypel, 1694 Paris 1752, vol. VIII, p. 28/I) “‘Mme de Mombay’ (pastel, engraved by Surugue)”? Nagler, Pierre Louis Surugue, Paris 1717 – 1771, no. 4 with the addition in parentheses “Mouchy” (so also British Museum regarding Surugue’s etching [1894,0611.5; 16⅜ × 11¾ in (41.5 × 29.8 cm)] and Richard Purcell’s mezzotint of 1770 [1902,1011.3740; 13½ × 9⅝ in (34.3 × 24.5 cm)] resp.) as taken over by Schwarz, nevertheless adding

“ Some  believe  the  lady  is  Mme.  de  Pompadour ”.

Anyhow, so Thieme-Becker, “(Coypel) co-worked at the decorations of the palace at Versailles, the chambers of Maria Lesczynskas and Mad. de Pompadour”.

And in simpler smaller execution in reverse (3⅛ × 5¼ in [8 × 13.5 cm]) the portrait figures as “Madama Poissons d’estiolles March. di P*******” as frontispiece signed “G Cattaneo Scol” to the anonymous biography “Memorie per servire alla vera storia di madama Poissons-d’Estiolles Marchesa di P*******, written still in lifetime of the Pompadour in 1762, but published only two years after her death (Venice, Antonio Graziosi, 1766).

The latter imparted by Lorenzo Crivellin, Turin, on his homepage and there furthermore commented as follows:

“ The work is discussed in Thierry Lefrançois’s monograph on Coypel (1994), no. P.235, where the subject is identified as a Mme de Mouchy on the basis of a manuscript catalogue of the engraved work after Coypel.

I am not sure whether we can rely on that identification, but it seems much more likely, given the date of the Coypel, this engraver has simply borrowed this elegant image for his purpose. That is the conclusion which Xavier Salmon reaches in his article, p. 507 of the catalogue of Madame de Pompadour et les arts. ”

However , to  the  opinion  here  the  actual  origin

– as it already should have been realized by Ridinger, too – might be more complex and

trace  back  to  Antoine  Watteau  (Valenciennes 1684 – Nogent-sur-Marne 1721) .

And here to the “Coquettes” in Petersburg of about 1714/15 published in engraving by Henri-Simon Thomassin II shortly before 1731 in the Recueil Jullienne with calling in of “The Italian Comedy” in Berlin of about 1718 reproduced for the Recueil in 1734 (see G 29 [with headgear] + G 65 [without headgear] with [comparative] illustrations in the Watteau Exhibition Catalogue by Morgan Grasselli & Rosenberg of 1984/85 and at Pierre Rosenberg & L. A. Prat, Antoine Watteau / Catalogue raisonné des dessins, 1996, pp. 638/39, 686/87, 690/91 & 1308/09).

With the “Coquettes”it is the lady on the outer left of the group of four with the black boy at the balustrade who as the only one holds a black mask in her right. Her likewise low-necked gown is nevertheless not identical with the “Lady with the Black Mask” who neither wears headgear though hair ornaments. That “at first she did not wear headgear … (also was) dressed differently and had laid her mask on the balustrade” may have been known to Coypel perhaps, the Recueil engraving shows her already changed though.

Just as already the opinions diverge if Watteau’s Cythera complex shows departure, return or stay, so in regard of the “Coquettes”

“ Since the 18th century the opinions on the theme of the painting are diverted. If one follows the anonymous author of the eight-liner (of the engraving) … then in the scene two young ladies appear who go masked to a ball to meet their ‘gallants’ there (in which, as already stressed, only for one a mask can be seen) … Mariette sees in the painting ‘people disguised for the ball’ … Lépicié speaks of a ‘return from the ball’. (Other contemporary authors) mention ‘masked persons who prepare themselves for a ball’ … Doubtless Fourcaud (1904) gets nearer to the truth when he speaks of ‘a family group during a gallant masquerade’: ‘obviously all figures originate from the sketch book’. Nevertheless in recent time not few authors are willing to identify the persons, especially Nemilova (1964) … and the names of the models. The Russian author does not want to hear anything of an allusion to the ball … but sees in the painting rather

actors  of  the  Comédie  Française  from  the  ‘Three  Cousins’

by Dancourt, as Italian actors (what corresponds to the traditional hypothesis), and identifies on the left

(the  famous  Charlotte)  Desmares  (1682-1753) …

To us the reasonable analysis by Fourcaud appears more suggestive; we see a group of friends of Watteau’s in the painting who were disguised imaginatively and arranged arbitrarily by the artist ”

(Pierre Rosenberg in Watteau Catalogue on G 29, the “Coquettes”).

At least the Desmares could belong to such a group of friends of the artist. Since

“ There were many reasons for Charlotte Desmares to meet Watteau: as famous tragedienne she herself was not too good for soubrette rôles in the ‘Dancourades’ – Colette in Les Trois Cousines … The nice of the great Champmeslé who produced the most beautiful rôles by Racines … Three works by Watteau … are considered as portraits of Mlle Desmares; Fourcaud (1904) even assumes that she is depicted on the ‘Isle of Cythera’ in Frankfort (G 9) … An engraving by Desplaces after Watteau shows her in the rôle of the pilgrimess (in the Trois Cousines) ”

(François Moureau in Watteau Catalogue, pp. 478 f.).

And Nemilova also sees the Desmares in the “Dreameress” in Chicago. On this Rosenberg ad G 26 :

“ No author of the 18th century, no catalog speaks of the famous actress in connection with the ‘Dreameress’ … We know her portrait by Charles-Antoin Coypel that was painted short before her early resignation from the theatre in 1721 by the engraving by Bernard Lépicié … One should have to accept that it shows no similarity to the model of the painting in Chicago. But 1712-1714 Watteau was not yet an experienced portraitist. In any case we part the opinion of Nemilova and Roland-Michel

who  find  again  the  model  of  the  ‘Dreameress’  in  the  ‘Coquettes’ .”

But there then by headgear and position at the outer left, the only one with the mask. In this regard it neither can be overlooked that in the “Italian Comedy” (G 65) the – ascertained – actress situated in the middle distance left herself is the only one of the group with a mask, held there in her left. Because

“ Watteau always paints – except for the harlequin – the mask taken off the face, held in the hand, in a position he might have seen on a painting in the collection of Crozat: ‘Le Comédien qui tient un masque’ by Domenico Fetti, today in the Eremitage … The masks depicted by Watteau were esteemed by the people following fashion and visiting the costume balls at the opera … At a ‘Dame en habit de théatre’ (ills. 89) a relative correspondence with the work of Watteau can be stated ” (she, too, with the mask held in her hand)

(Moureau, op. cit., p. 530).

Finally noticeable that the “Dreameress”, the “Nervous Lover” (ills. 1 at G 26) as the actress with the mask of the “Italian Comedy” always sit/stand to the right, but look to the left. Quite as Ridinger’s “Lady with the Black Mask” after, so Schwarz, Coypel who shows himself tied to Watteau here and who painted the portrait of the Desmares. Without knowing its engraving by Lépicié nevertheless the objection:

is  “ The  Lady  with  the  Black  Mask ”  the  Desmares ?

See the detail of the portrait ascribed to Santerre in the Watteau Catalogue, p. 525, with the remark the painter “often idealized (his models) by giving them a sophisticated and oval face”. Such one distinguishes the lady here, too, whose thoughtful-dreamy look is closer to the “Nervous Lover” than the “Dreameress” just showing self-confidence. Finally amazingly the accord of the bearing of sit and head at Coypel/Ridinger + Santerre, at the latter only to the left with look to the right.

Only in pure regard to the ball though the picture appears as a review after the return from the ball. With the mask as not only as an outward attribute, but “as a symbol in love-affairs” (Rosenberg). Just such Madame would be lost in thought here.

Keeping in mind Ridinger’s intensive occupation with Watteau his “excudit” for this

optically  so  especially  beautiful  sheet

is read in the sense of Langenscheidt, too –“has engraved or worked”. Available by the way as

the  marvelous  copy  in  regard  of  printing  and  conservation

of a cultivated collection of

in  all  parts  perfectly  bright  chiaroscuro .

And in such a manner a quite extraordinary rarity not only on the market as quoted above, but in general, too. Already in 1675 the expert von Sandrart numbered “clean prints” of the velvety mezzotint manner at only c. “50 or 60” (!). “Soon after (the picture) grinds off for it not goes deeply into the copper.” Correspondingly Thienemann in 1856 :

“ The  mezzotints  are  almost  not  to  be  acquired  on  the  market  anymore …
and  the  by  far  largest  part  (of  them) …
(I  have)  only  found  (in  the  printroom)  at  Dresden. ”

Not  even  there  the  one  here

which subsequently remained unknown to Count Stillfried, too! To the current knowledge here in order to be documented for the first time only nine years later with the Silesian Ridinger Collection above (“of greatest richness … many rarities”) wound up in 1885.

The latter as then here the supposed recourse to Watteau. By which Ridinger’s mastership in imaginative improvisation completely unconsidered in the past would be proved a further time. As likewise related to Watteau, documented here as ascertained for the “Self-Portrait in the Wood” (Th. XIX, 1) or quite in superior style his “Cythera Lady” (Schwarz 1471) and his “Hippocrene” rejected by him and published here for the first time to his 300th birthday as examples of ripe art supplied from old and great tradition.

“ Great artists seldom cite one another literally. In some cases they pay homage to a predecessor hinting unobstrusively in their own creations at other ideas ”

(Dirk De Vos, Rogier van der Weyden, 1999, p. 36, with the reference to Dieric Bouts [about 1420 – 1476] as the probably first example of “such a fruitful adoption”).

And  finally

among  above  graphic  representations  of  the  Coypel  picture

Ridinger’s  Madame

is  the  largest

And , of  course ,

for  the  Ridinger  connoisseur

the  most  beautiful ,

the  most  desirable .

Her code number is


standing together for

2914 Euro

With  exclusive  possession

and  thereby  unlimited  enjoyment

beyond  any  exhibition  prohibition

“Touching  prohibited”.

Voilà ,

gentlemen , grandseigneurs , connoisseurs …

It’s  your  turn !

„ … zugleich bedanke ich mich für alles, was Sie im alten Jahr für mich getan haben. Mit vielen Grüßen Ihr … “

(Herr W. W., 20. Dezember 2008)