Elephant Triumvirate

273 Years Ago
drawn from Life on the Spot


Johann Elias (Ilja) Grimmel

Court Painter at the Czar’s Court

Memmingen 1703 – Petersburg 1759

Russian Imperial Eagle
From Alexander Wilbrecht’s Petersburg Map here

Petersburg Pachyderms


of Wisdom and Sympathy …”

Johann Elias Grimmel, Elephant

Johann Elias Grimmel (Russian Илья Гриммель, Memmingen 1703 – Petersburg 1759, where in 1741 he was appointed court painter supposedly at the suggestion of the Russian legation councilor at The Hague). Elephant. Male animal from front laterally to the left. Colored etching with engraving by Johann Elias Ridinger (Ulm 1698 – Augsburg 1767). Inscribed: ELEPHAS. / Elephant. / Elephant. / Familia V. Fünffhufige. / J. El. Grimmel ad viv. del. St. Petersb. / Joh. El. Ridinger fecit et excud. Aug. Vind. 12¼ × 8⅛ in (31 × 20.5 cm).

Thienemann & Schwarz 1030 in the 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. XIII.” referring to Jacob Theodor Klein’s Quadrupedum dispositio brevisque Historia Naturalis of 1751 and like six further ones unbeknown to Thienemann as in turn several other early states still with aforementioned reference documented per the complete copy available here.


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.

On C & I Honig paper 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 2-3 cm, below 5 cm wide. – A tiny brown spot in the white plate field top left.


After the Petersburg court painter Grimmel, once pupil of J. Fr. Sichelbein in Memmingen and J. van Schuppen in Vienna, “where he is ascertainable as participant in the academic price competitions 1731-37”. The appointment to the czar’s court was made by the Imperial Russian Academy of Sciences there ( see here also their Atlas Russicus ), where Grimmel worked “since as much demanded ‘professor for drawing and painting from the living model’” (Th.-B. XV [1922], 50). Here then the first of the

triple pack of Petersburg pachyderms

drawn from life by Grimmel

and disseminated in copper by father (2) & son Ridinger in their famous Colored Animal Kingdom.

Offer no. 15,933 / EUR  1300. / export price EUR  1235. (c. US$ 1493.) + shipping

Johann Elias Grimmel, Elephant

Johann Elias Grimmel (Russian Илья Гриммель, Memmingen 1703 – Petersburg 1759). An Elephant. Female animal to the right, chained at the left fore and right hind leg, “yellowish grey, passing into blackish grey … mighty tusks”. Colored etching with engraving by Martin Elias Ridinger (1731 Augsburg 1780). Inscribed: ELEPHAS. / Ein Elefant. / Un Elephant. / Familia V. fünf-Hufige. / Joh. El. Grimmel ad viv: del: St. Petersburg. / M. El. Ridinger, Sculps. 8¼ × 12⅜ in (20.9 × 31.4 cm).

Thienemann & Schwarz 1031. – As before. – Margins on three sides 2-2.5 cm, on the left 4.4 cm wide. – Quite dainty pleat in the left white plate field. In the lower far white plate and adjoining paper field one tiny brown spot and 1⅛ × ⅜ in (3 × 1 cm) streak each.

Offer no. 15,934 / EUR  1300. / export price EUR  1235. (c. US$ 1493.) + shipping

Johann Elias Grimmel, Trained Elephant

Johann Elias Grimmel (Russian Илья Гриммель, Memmingen 1703 – Petersburg 1759). Trained Elephant. Dressed up and painted (“spruced up like a festive ox”), striding to the front, his driver on him. As before, again transferred into the copper by Johann Elias Ridinger himself. Inscribed: ELEPHAS. / Abgerichter Elephant. / Elephant dressé. / Familia V. Fünffhufige. / J. El. Grimmel ad viv. del. St. Petersb. / Joh. El. Ridinger fecit et excud. Aug. Vind. 12¼ × 8⅛ in (31.2 × 20.6 cm).

Thienemann & Schwarz 1032. – Margins on three sides 1.7-3.5 cm, below 4.6 cm wide. – Two little brown spots in the upper white plate field. – Beside the “Crane at Oldenburg” as the world’s most famous dapple gray the prime plate of the 127-sheet Animal Kingdom set,

whose mounted driver

became victim of the shortening of the plates

in the uncolored 1824/25 new edition .

Offer no. 15,935 / EUR  1400. / export price EUR  1330. (c. US$ 1608.) + shipping

To further the staying together of above three Grimmel/Ridinger Animal Kingdom Elephants 15,933/35 , offered also en-bloc 10% more favorably per

Offer no. 16,003 / EUR  3600. / export price EUR  3420. (c. US$ 4134.) + shipping

Martin Elias Ridinger, Siberian Sable

Martin Elias Ridinger (1731 Augsburg 1780). Sable Siberian or Sarmatian Marten. / Egyptian Weasel. One each of the species, the former front center. Colored etching with engraving. Inscribed: MUSTELA Zibellina. MUSTELA Pharaonis. / Zobel … as above / Matre Zibeline de Siberie. Belette. / Familia IV. Fünffzæhige. / ex Collect. Ludolfii (Klein). / Ridinger. sc. 12 × 7¾ in (30.6 × 19.8 cm).

Thienemann & Schwarz 1054. – Margins on three sides 1.7-3.2 cm, below 5.4 cm wide. – Tiny brown spot showing from the back within the shrubbery.

The sable “is the most like the pine marten among the relations of the species … The shining silken coat, which is regarded already of old

as the most precious one among all the furs ,

costs the more the more unicolored it is … Most common it is presently still on Kamchatka where the almost inaccessible mountains provide refuge. In regard of its habits it is like our pine marten” (Meyers Konversations-Lexikon, 4th ed., XVI [1890], 948 f.). The present one of the preferred chestnut and darker color with relatively little white.

With Jacob Theodor 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.”

Offer no. 15,913 / EUR  570. / export price EUR  542. (c. US$ 655.) + shipping

In Extravagant Russia Leather Binding

Atlas Rvssicvs ... Vastissimvm Imperivm Rvssicvm

Atlas Rvssicvs

Vastissimvm Imperivm Rvssicvm

cum adiacentibvs Regionibvs

The First Genuine Complete Atlas of Russia
in a contemporarily Colored Copy
as Particularly Scarce

description & offer
  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)
  2. cf. note 1

“ I received today your … with excellent small Hollar print in good condition. It like me very much … I will send you my new order, naturally it’s possible/again Hollar print. Thank you very much for all ”

(Mr. Z. B., September 12, 2003)