With the Old Greeks ,
especially in Athens ,
the Owl was regarded as a

Bird sacred to Athena
Ridinger, Various Owls
and thus
Herald of Fortune

Ridinger, Ways to Capture/Title Plate (detail)
Detail from the title plate of the “Ways to Capture the Wild Animals”

“ For its residence at lonely places and its nightly roving
it was regarded withal as symbol of deep tireless study …

“ For its nightly activities the owl yet also obtained
a demonic, infernal meaning, it heralds disaster and death;
cursed souls have to wander about in the shape of owls …

“ The voice of the owl has given cause
to many legends of the Wild Hunt …

“ For his strange gestures the ‘foolish fogey’ is known,
and to the comical the prankish (Eulenspiegel) strings. ”

Meyers Konversations-Lexikon V (1889), p. 907

Representative for
All Species of Owls
Ridinger, Various Owls
4. … seems to indicate our brown owl …

the Brown Owl is
Bird of the Year 2017

Johann Elias Ridinger is present …

Ridinger, Various Owls

“ On the title sheet of that sketchbook we read that Ridinger had the intention to deliver studies of birds, too. Present copy shall confirm this. We find in it four heads of birds in quite faithful representation: 1. the female of the kestrel (falco tinnunculus, Linn.);

2. the smallest eared owl (Schoffittel, Strix scops, Linn.);

3. the great eagle owl (Strix bubo, Linn.),

and finally 4. the buzzard (falco buteo, Linn.). The original in black chalk; width 6″ 5‴, height 10″ 5‴. It has to be regretted that Ridinger has not propagated this fine plate further by the chisel ”

G. A. W. Thienemann
Explanation of the XII Engravings in Aquatint Manner added to the Book, 5

— not on offer here —

Johann Elias Ridinger

Ulm 1698 – Augsburg 1767

Birds of Prey and Owls

Each in mostly rocky surroundings and accessed with numbers. Set of four sheet. Etchings with engraving, 3 of which by Martin Elias Ridinger (1731 Augsburg 1780). 1763. Inscribed as below. 13-13¼ × 9¾ in (33-33.6 × 24.7-24.8 cm).

Thienemann & Schwarz (vol. I, ill. of pl. III) 755-758; Weigel 44 A (of A-C). – Not in the Ridinger catalogs Darmstadt, 1999, and Kielce, 1997. Missing also in the Coppenrath (1889/90) & Schoeller (1921) collections. And only one single copy (“Very fine impressions with wide margin”) with market sweeper Georg Hamminger 1895 as well as two single sheets each of two of the plates, one of which mounted and without margin. Helbing, however, assembled for cat. XXXIV, Arbeiten von J. E. und M. E. Ridinger, 1900, two copies of the set, one of which in later impressions, as well as several individual sheets, partly new impressions or trimmed or otherwise defective.

Here then on strong laid paper, partly with typographic watermark, in

entirely homogeneous marvelously shining qualities

on half sheets uncut on three sides

and in such a manner with margins above & below 9.5-11 cm, laterally 5.5-6.3 cm wide. – In the upper margin the two pin holes of the original stitching, small tears in the deckle edges mostly backed acid-freely, the lower deckle edge of pl. 3 additionally a little time-marked. Pl. 4 lower right with faint tidemark barely perceptible in the white platemark.

“ Although our artist has not based his fame on them … so many have turned out well and we owe him the quite good depiction

of several birds not yet depicted at his time … ”


So in Ridinger’s considerable property of drawings within J. A. G. Weigel’s estate catalog of drawings of 1869 there are still about twenty drawings with eagles and owls. To these a number of further ones in community with other birds adds, which, based on their inscriptions, frequently are to be attributed, however, to the likewise four-sheet Birds with Various Biblical Proverbs as the second of Ridinger’s two bird sets, the Fables or the Concert of Birds not executed in engraving.

Remarkable that the for the most part dated works are from 1741 almost throughout. Few exceptions from 1742 mostly related to fables not executed in print. Merely a standing eagle with spread wings seen from behind in black chalk from 1747. Drawings for the Birds with Various Biblical Proverbs remained without date.

ridinger — again and again extraordinaire

The Birds of Pray by Day

Ridinger, Birds of Prey by Day


1. The Great Goshawk. 2. Two Small Species of Eagles. 3. The Brown Pale Vulture. 4. Crow. 5. Magpie. J. El. Ridinger inv. et. del. A. V. / El. Martin Ridinger sculpsit.

“ No. 1 … with spread wings, appears to be a young bird of the goshawk (falco palumbarius Linn.)” (Th.). 2. & 3. are “not to be ascertained”, 4. & 5. “are both magpies (corvus pica Linn.)”.

Cf. the pen-and-ink drawing in outline Weigel 379: An Assembly of Birds, in the center on a rock the eagle with spread wings, surrounded by owls, falcons and other birds of prey on rocks and a trunk.

Ridinger, King Vulture


1. Oriental Eagle or Vulture King. 2. European Great Eagle. J. El. Ridinger ad viv. del. et excud. Aug. Vind. / M. El. Ridinger sculps. 1763. A. V.

“ Here we see the king vulture (Vultur Papa Linn.) in very agitated position. 2. … cannot be ascertained ” (Th.).

Adducible possibly the Common eagle with spread wings on a trunk in slight pen-and-ink from Weigel 323.

The Owls

Ridinger, Various Owls


1. The Great Eagle Owl or Eared Owl. 2. Medium species of the Eared Owl. 3. Barn Owl. 4. Owls of the greatest species. 5. Smaller Owls. 6. The Smallest Owl called Schoffittichen. J. El. Ridinger inv. et fecit. / J. El. Ridinger sculps. A. V. (Th.: should be: Martin Elias).

“ 1. … is strix Bubo Linn. Besides an unnamed owl, without feather tufts. A young eagle owl? 2. … We have a medium eared owl indeed (strix otus Linn.), yet for this it is far to big. Supposedly it is the great eagle owl, male, too. 3. … not bad (strix flammea Linn.), which is also named tower or church owl. 4. … This name seems to indicate our brown owl (strix aluco Linn.), but in nature this is larger, in the depiction significantly smaller than the barn owl. 5. … We call the earless owls Kauz, however, this shows distinctly feather tufts and therefore might represent the smallest eared owl (strix scops. Linn.). 6. … Maybe

the rare sparrow owl (strix acadica) ” (Th).

Among the heads of the fully inscribed chalk drawing Weigel 332 from 1741 – see following below – also a “Schoffittel”, there however identified by Thienemann as smallest eared owl (strix scops. Linn.). As belonging to present sheet Four Various Owls by a Rock in black chalk (Coppenrath II [1889], 1933, probably identical with W. 330). Adducible also the Rock Part with Six Owls: the Great Eagle Owl, Barn Owl, and Little Owl (W. 333) executed in pencil (birds) and pen-and-ink outline (landscape).

Ridinger, Various Owls


1. The Great Eared Owl. 2. The Grey Owl. 3. Brown Owl. 4. Small Eared Owl. El. M. Ridinger sculps. / J. E. R. inv. et excud. A. V.

“ In a rock cave seven owls sit, supposed to belong to four species … 2. … supposedly barn owl … 4. … two piece, of which one shows distinct feather tufts. Therefore this might be

the first true representation of the short-eared owl (strix brachyotos)

Then noteworthy ” (Th.).

For the great eared owl (eagle owl) see the central big study of the head in the aforementioned drawing Weigel 332 (ill. Th., pl. 5).

In the new edition by Engelbrecht-Herzberg of 1824/25 present four sheets were offered augmented by the slightly larger Birds of Prey by Day (Th. 273) & Icelandic White Falcon spotted with Black Feathers (Th. 284) removed from the Most Wondrous Deer and other Animals and worked exclusively by Johann Elias Ridinger. Here, however, it may be repeated, the four-sheet set as created by Ridinger in contemporary impressions on half sheet each with deckle edge on three sides

of utterly uniform even beauty

and in such a manner fine proof

of Ridinger’s but slender ornithological work .

Offer no. 16,163 / price on application

niemeyer’s — for ridingers as they should be

Ridinger, Night Owls

« Oh Oh »

The Night Owls consumed a poor little hare, so soon cats come along, too, and liked to take them along with the hare, there it is about hairs so about feathers. An eagle owl – Thienemann comments – , sitting on a captured hare, is attacked by two cats which want to take the hare from it. Above a second owl is about to fly down and prevent the heist. / World World. The Foxes fetched a banquet in the hen-house, yet at once dogs were set on them, and thus it is about feathers so about hairs. Two foxes – Thienemann comments – , one takes to his heels with a hen in the mouth, the other has dropped the killed cock to defend himself against a dog. Two further packers hurrying down an elevation to take part in the battle.

2 sheet as lively wall-fitting scenarios

in fine hilly water landscape under the full moon, located each at the opposite end of the same pond. Etching with engraving by Martin Elias Ridinger (1731 Augsburg 1780). Inscribed: XXXIV. and XXXIII. resp. / Joh. El. Ridinger. del: et inv(in): 1753. / M. El. Ridinger. Filio suo. sp. 1777, otherwise in German as before and below. 13⅛ × 9¾ in (33.3 × 24.8 cm).

Thienemann & Schwarz 377 & 376; Silesian Ridinger collection at Boerner XXXIX, within 1887 ( “New impressions”, 1885! ); Reich auf Biehla Collection 119 & 118 ( “Rare”, 1894!; pl. 34 trimmed to platemark); Helbing XXXIV, Arbeiten von J. E. und M. E. Ridinger, 893 & 892 (pl. 34: “Rare”, 1900! ).

The pair XXXIII/XXXIV with indented arched top of the 46-sheet set To the Special Events and Incidents at the Hunt ( “The rarest set of Ridinger’s sporting line engravings”, Schwerdt 1928, and, so Thienemann, “arranged almost throughout so that always two by two harmonize with each other and form pendants, just as they have been sold in pairs, too”) etched exclusively by Martin Elias after predominantly his father’s designs and concluded in 1779.

The captions quoted above supplemented by the mottos

» Oh Oh =

» There is no end to robbing and killing ,
and so outrage becomes the third sin . «

» World World –

» All brave bachelors are burdensome to the belles ,
but the latter in their turn often dangerous to the former «

Wide-margined impressions of vibrant chiaroscuro originating from the omnibus volume of the old estate of a nobleman on firm laid paper with typographic watermark as one of Ridinger’s preferred qualities

with the Roman numbers

(“If they are missing, so this indicates later impressions”, Th.). – In the far white upper margin still both the two pinholes from the original stitching in numbers, at the far right edge of pl. 34 small tidemark.

Offer no. 15,820 / EUR  1780. / export price EUR  1691. (c. US$ 2044.) + shipping

Ridinger, Falconer Groom with Eagle Owl

Falconer Groom
carrying the Eagle Owl on the hand.
Valet de Faucon tenant les Hibou dess la main.

“He rides a dapple and has the eagle owl on the left. Open landscape” (Th.) with parishes from the hill above left to far right. Etching with engraving by Martin Elias Ridinger (1731 Augsburg 1780). C. 1764. Inscribed: Joh. El. Ridinger inven. delin. et excud. Aug. Vind. / Martin Elias Ridinger Sculpsit., otherwise in German-French as above. 13¼ × 10 in (33.7 × 25.5 cm).

Thienemann & Schwarz 120. – Sheet 8 of the 25-sheet set of the Hunters and Falconers with their Work, transferred into copper exclusively by Johann Elias’ eldest. – The preparatory drawing in the National Printroom Munich. – Fleur-de-lis watermark. – The margin 1-1.8 cm wide with faint old mounting spots. – The fine motif as moreover

splendid early impression before the numbering “G”

top right as traded here for but one exception – Helbing XXXIV, Arbeiten von J. E. und M. E. Ridinger (1900), 271 for sheet “M” as highly valued “Proof before all letters and before many later works” – without reference to literature quite occasionally already.

Offer no. 15,822 / EUR  870. / export price EUR  827. (c. US$ 1000.) + shipping

Ridinger, Bird Catcher with Eagle Owl

“ Yet enthroned on Top
the Long-eared Owl … ”

Johann Elias Ridinger (Ulm 1698 – Augsburg 1767). Bird-catcher going to the Fowling-floor with his Utensils. Oiseleur sur L’oiselerie tirant les filets. Etching and engraving by Martin Elias Ridinger (1731 Augsburg 1780). C. 1764. Inscribed: Joh. El. Ridinger inv. del. et exc. Aug. Vind. / Mart. El. Ridinger sculps., otherwise in German-French as above. 13⅜ × 10¼ in (34 × 26 cm).

Thienemann & Schwarz 131; Deutsches Leben der Vergangenheit, Eugen Diederichs Vlg., ill. 1482. – Sheet 19 (“S.”) of the 25-sheet set of Hunters and Falconers with their Work, here

“ In the hands he carries the disk on the long pole, destined to the seat of the owl which has an important role with his catching. Beside him his trusty, well-loaded, thus quite slowly striding along white horse. On it poles, bird-cages, large and small, round and square, nets, cloth and what else not, on top, however, the long-eared owl is enthroned … In the background the well-equipped fowling-floor, the destination of the excursion. ”

Shining contrast-rich on sturdy laid paper as characteristic of the contemporary impressions. – Typographic watermark. – At the sides with 3.8-4 cm of fine, top and below with 7.8 and 7 cm resp. excellently wide margins.

Offer no. 28,593 / EUR  760. / export price EUR  722. (c. US$ 873.) + shipping

Ridinger, Ways of Capture/Title

“ The Title
belongs to the Finest Engravings
of German Rococo ”

L’Art Ancien 1938

Johann Elias Ridinger (Ulm 1698 – Augsburg 1767). Representations designed from Nature How all Big and Small Game, along with the Winged Game is trapped alive or dead in various manner with Reason Artifice and Force! Etching & engraving. Inscribed in German: All drawn from life and published by Johann Elias Ridinger in Augspurg in the year 1750. May. 10th, otherwise as before along with 8 lines explanation in German. 9¾ × 14¼ in (24.9 × 36.3 cm).

Thienemann & Schwarz (vol. I, plate V & ill. p. 69) 69; Ridinger catalog Darmstadt, 1999, V.9 with ills.; Ridinger catalog Kielce, 1997, 27. – The wide white margin partially minimally foxing.

Dominating centrally the hooded falcon literally enthroned above a scutcheon-like arabesque. At his claws a larger bird defending its nest of eggs against a he-cat already caught in a foothold trap. On the right, on his part

dominantly sitting , an eagle owl .

Far left a row of toils and the here variedly equipped known pole with bleating sheep on the cartwheel at top. Otherwise traps, nets, firearm as messenger of destruction up to the shooting horse on fenced farm paddock far right.

The only rarely to be captured constructive title sheet

to the 30-plate set of the Ways to trap the Wild Animals, that “highly interesting work (containing) beautiful and remarkable sheets … drawn from life” (Nagler) and showing the practician everything he needs outdoors. – Known on the market from the 1980s the richly washed original drawing in the same direction as the engraving from the small group of the master’s bewitchingly beautiful painterlies. – Supposedly watermarked WANGEN as one of the papers preferred by Ridinger.

Offer no. 15,848 / EUR  630. / export price EUR  599. (c. US$ 724.) + shipping

niemeyer’s — 58 years ridinger experience

Ridinger, Innocence saved through the Hatred of the Evil

The Owl warns …

Johann Elias Ridinger (Ulm 1698 – Augsburg 1767). Innocence is often saved through the Hatred of the Evil.

An owl once cheated by the fox

warns “a flock of wild geese” to praise the death of Reynard the Fox as guaranteed. Etching & engraving by Martin Elias Ridinger (1731 Augsburg 1780). After 1767. Inscribed: J. El. Ridinger. inv. et del. / M. El. Ridinger. sc. et exc: A. V., otherwise in German, Latin, and French as before. 13¼ × 9¾ in (33.6 × 24.7 cm).

Thienemann & Schwarz 781; Metzner-Raabe, Illustr. Fabelbuch, 1998, vol. II, 123.I. – Sheet 17 of the Fables. – Small figurative watermark. – The repeated “.” after Ridinger missing in Schwarz who besides mentions a “:” after FABUL instead of the simple dot here. – Additionally to the fine white platemark with also wide paper margin on two sides. In the narrower left one old traces of stitching.

The exceptionally rare first supplementary sheet

of the intellectually as optically exceedingly charming Instructive Fables from the Animal Kingdom for Improvement of the Manners and especially for Instruction of the Youth by which

“ Ridinger pursued a typical purpose of his epoch. A ‘Correction of Manners’ by the morale efficacy of art – albeit in a quite different manner – William Hogarth, almost of the same age as Ridinger, had attempted by his paintings and prints … Yet while Hogarth and Chodowiecki tried to gain recognition for their (identical) ideas by satirical sets, as ‘A Rake’s Progress’, 1735 … Ridinger built on the – especially suitable to him (that is, so he himself, ‘since the hoary times of the ancient ages’) – tradition of the animal fable ”

(Stefan Morét, Ridinger Catalog Darmstadt, 1999, page 96).

And Ridinger himself in the explanation to present sujet:

“ Some wild geese marched in their manner in a file to the pasture. A sly fox, whom lucky experience had made cunning, watched them to catch some. However, as guileful he was, as careful were the geese … That annoyed the fox, that a silly goose should foil his slyness; hence he bethought himself of a devilry, to beguile them … An owl saw this … Well, she thought, this is a neat occasion to avenge myself upon this robber. When now the silly geese marched along …

the owl sitting close by called out to them :

Friends! be on your guard, he is not serious … ”

Pictorially by the way Ridinger, creating a new image type, leaves behind once more tradition and field. For, so Ulrike Bodemann in Metzner-Raabe,

“ No similarities to fable illustrations known hitherto .

Enormous image sizes filled almost entirely by the representation of a central factor of the fable tale. Surroundings mostly dense, natural wood .”

And Regine Timm, ibid., vol. I, p. 171:

“ In his large plates Ridinger … sometimes has included vegetable growth or rocks, too, dominantly in his illustrations indeed, but without decorative intention. The plants and rocks mean the thicket, the deserted loneliness of the forest, in which the strange tales among the animals happen. ”

“ Fable is more historical than fact ,

because fact tells us about one man

and fable tells us about a million men ”

Gilbert Keith Chesterton

Alfred the Great in Varied Types


The set consists of 20 plates, of which Johann Elias, however, has published only the first sixteen. Presumably by stylistic scruple. For with the last four, etched/engraved only by his eldest, Martin Elias, and published posthumously, he gives up the superabundance of the previous, his moreover only newly worked fable conception, in favor of a now also for himself thoroughly newly, sovereignly formulated large flat clearness (exemplarily for this especially 17th & 20th) with which to grapple with he obviously has shied at the end though. And where to follow him was impossible for Thienemann, too, still one hundred years later (“have less artistic value, but are nevertheless estimable, and their rarity is to be regretted”). What here, however, is regarded as a remarkably advanced artistic expressiveness. Culminating just in the fascination to have created not only a new fable image, but cultivated this, once more in itself, to a new level.

Comparable in this connection, as quoted repeatedly by Ridinger, it may be pointed out to Watteau and here to his “Party in the Open/Park” in Berlin, on which Pierre Rosenberg notes: “… the Berlin painting is

an evidence that the artist wished to reinvent himself

by creation of a new type of composition …”

(Exhibition Catalogue Watteau, Washington/Paris/Berlin 1984/85, p. 415).

Ridinger’s general fable image then also a highly momentous milestone within the “basic corpus of about 900 editions of illustrated fable books” up to Chagall’s Lafontaine folio with its 100 etchings worked 200 years later as downright a glaring light for the immortality of the fable illustration.

That Ridinger had conceived his set originally substantially more comprehensively is evidenced by his preparatory drawing to the 20th fable inscribed by him “Fab 31” traded here, that to the 19th inscribed “Fabel 29.” (Weigel, 1869, no. 384), and the one known to Thienemann numbered “30”, yet remained unused like further unnumbered ones.

The practically inevitable great rarity of the four supplementary sheets known to literature since Thienemann’s statement of 1856: they “make themselves very scarce, are already not to be found in some older editions, and have been left out entirely in the latest, what is to be regretted though” (p. 151).

Accordingly then also the 1889 catalog of the Coppenrath Collection on the 20-sheet copy: “Fine main set … Rare”. And in 1900 Helbing qualified in his 1554-item Ridinger catalog (XXXIV): “The last (4) numbers are extremely rare.” And while he owned beside a complete copy multiple single prints of the first sixteen except for 12 & 13, so of the final four plates only 17 & 19 in one additional copy each. On the market till today then almost only the 16-sheet basic set, too.

The different printing states of the title, documenting the repeated editions, besides most beautiful proof of the success of the work, which obviously did reach its particular target group, the youth.

Offer no. 12,511 / EUR  946. / export price EUR  899. (c. US$ 1087.) + shipping

Ridinger, Owls in Badger's Sett
“Self-defense to those who cause it harmful”

“ This now is the curious sheet which I have mentioned p. 151 and promised to report something further about. For it provides the most distinctive evidence that Ridinger seriously intended to continue his fables to at least thirty. The very appealing original drawing is on bluish paper with a little wash, black chalk, and heightened with white …

The artist’s train of idea may have been about the following:

A considerable party of light-shunning owls, with and without feather tufts, dares to choose the gloomy den of a badger as refuge from the odious sun beams.

By this they provoke the otherwise quiet and by no means bloodthirsty troglodyte

to self-defense against these uninvited annoying guests.

He drives them from his hermitage by force by causing a real carnage among those concerned first, and thus confirms the headline:

“ Self-defense to those who cause it harmful ”

G. A. W. Thienemann
Explanation of the XII Engravings in Aquatint Manner added to the Book, 6

— not on offer here —

“ It came!  My plate [already documented as lost] was delivered and it is in excellent condition. I cannot explain all of the delays or what happened. It is in the original packaging that you described and it was delivered by DHL, not the postal service (as  far as I can tell – it was left on the porch [!!]). So thank you and so glad that this long story has such a nice ending. It was nice dealing with you, thank you for the plate! ”

(Mrs. J. C., May 8, 2010)