From Old French Ridinger Collection with an Edge
Le Seigneur dit: Faisons des hommes selon nôtre image et ressemblance
Home of Humanity
Des le commencement Dieu avoit planté le Paradis du plaisir
Where we come from — Where we strive for again
Johann Elias Ridinger (Ulm 1698 – Augsburg 1767). The Paradise or The Creation and the Fall of the First Couple of Man. Unnumbered set of 12 sheet. Etching with engraving. Not before the late 1740s – hardly before 1765, yet not after 1766. Inscribed: varyingly Joh. El. Ridinger inv. fec. et excud. Aug. Vind. & German-French-Latin caption (both the former two referring to the Genesis, the latter complementary, cf. sequence of plates and Stubbe below). 15⅛-15⅞ × 20⅞-21⅝ in (38.5-40.2 × 53-54.9 cm). In black interim portfolio lined ruby-red with three inside flaps, four fastening ribbons and leather strap.
Thienemann & Schwarz (ill. I, p. 106) 807-818; Weigel, Art Stock Catalog, XXVIII (1857), Ridinger Appendix 53A (Alte Abdrücke [Bütten/Linienpapier] von A-C); Schwerdt III, 144; Stubbe, Joh. El. Ridinger, 1966, 42 ff. & plate 35; Ridinger Catalog Augsburg, 1967, 46-63 & ill. 5; Biedermann, Meisterzeichnungen des Deutschen Barock, 1987, 163 with 3 ills.; KUNSTREICH, Erwerbungen (of the original copper printing plates) der Kunstsammlungen Augsburg 1990-2000, 102, pp. 198-201 with 8 ills.; Niemeyer, Ridinger Erlebnisse 1698-2020, 2021, pp. 134-141 with 5 illustrations.
“ Mr. Ridinger’s noteworthy work is :
the Paradise consisting of 12 large sheets ,
Dieu commanda a l’homme, disant
which is inimitable in the drawing ”
(Augspurgisches Extra-Blätel Augspurgische Ordinari Postzeitung von Staats-, gelehrten, historisch- u. ökonomischen Neuigkeiten [so January 1, 1767] of December 29, 1767 – see below – as secondary title of the Augsburger Ordinari Post Zeitung published under varying titles from January [?] 1687 until August 11, 1935, in which not least Catherine the Great [gov. 1762-1796] had “the Academy of St. Petersburg advertise in search for good artists … with success”).
A contemporary assessment as to date expressed no better, celebrating that capital set (Weigel III , 3839) belonging – so Thienemann page 273 – to the most accomplished works, on which Thienemann (1856) already stated page 168:
“ … belongs to the largest, but besides also to the most famous works … Here his genius could also show quite remarkably in the arrangement of the most varied animals, in the depiction of the finest tree parts and the loveliest regions. ”
And still at the master’s lifetime the painter colleague Georg Christoph Kilian (1709-1781) said in the biographical notes dedicated to the once teacher
“ how charming and theological his Paradise. ”
And still 130 years later Rolf Biedermann, see above, will qualify the set by
“ It certainly reckons
Depuis que Dieu avoit formé de la terre, tous les animaux d’ici bas
among his masterly performances in print ”
and claim – not quite justly – continuing
“ If one assumes that Ridinger is one of the few German Baroque artists who since his death 220 years ago never fell into oblivion, whose animal and hunt depictions are highly coveted by collectors, highly traded by dealers till today, so the poor attention art history has paid to him so far surprises. ”
To which meager proofs for the latter nevertheless the one or other grave voice is to be added, as for instance from 1901 Ernst Welisch’s “indisputably the most important Augsburg landscapist of his time … even though he is mostly known as animal painter” or from 1966 Wolf Stubbe’s
“ … so Ridinger’s artistic general appearance actually has nothing of an ‘Augsburg’ artist and yet one conceives ‘Augsburg’ as the necessary prerequisite for its development … In these characteristics, not touching his actual artistic findings, Ridinger is Augsburger, apart from that his graphic works have hardly anything in common with the decorative-ornamental engravings from the workshops in his neighborhood. Regarding content and conception, he separates himself completely from the ‘official’ art of the city … ”
[insert here: of which Ferdinand von Kobell as painter colleague of the next generation sneers 1771 towards Wille in Paris as of the “insects of engraving [in the] miserable Augsburg”, lamenting “that in such a place a Ridinger – and Rugendas [had] to live” and 1772 Johann Caspar Füssli, painter colleague and artist biographer of the Ridinger generation himself likewise writes to Wille “since I have lost Ridinger I find no German friend anymore who cares about art.”]
Et l’Eternel Dieu fit tomber un profond som[m]eil sur Adam, et il s’endormit
“ … Yet foremost the rococo-bright light gleaming through of the whole wide scene in the impressing evidence of Ridinger’s mature art of engraving [Th. 60, The Stag at Bay from the set of the Par force Hunt]! It takes quite a lot artistic intelligence to achieve this just as delicate as animating effect of light. By it, if he knows to handle it, the engraver possesses a decisive means for one of the most essential effects the art of engraving can achieve at all …
“ … and [Ridinger’s] drawing is not content with just the animal’s static appearance. For introduced or more correctly made visible with particular emphasis now is a new, highly impressive principle of characterization: The behavior of the animal in its different phases of life. If for instance he shows shoats, young wild boars, three-year-old tuskers, and four-year-old hound slayers in one sheet in movement, he shows the different movements of young, more mature, and older wild boars [Th. 209] …
“ … in Ridinger’s engravings the animal now appears soulful, and the artist soon gains the fame of being an ‘animal soul painter’. So
Ridinger becomes the electrifying missionary
of a then newly forming conception of nature
which consequently asserts itself also by a completely changed relation to the creature. No longer the animal is a kind of machine …
“ … but it should be strongly emphasized that he has been an animal designer sui generis, whose – indeed unique – manner has not been met again by any other artist even just similarly …
“ … Measured by the intellectual habit of the average Augsburg artist, Ridinger is a distinct profane painter who at most can be compared with the sacral painters surrounding him by his didactic disposition ”
(Stubbe, op. cit., pp. 10 f., 16, 23 f., 13, 44; space out, boldfacing & centering not in the original).
Alors Adam dit: à cette fois celle ci est os de mes os
Thus Welisch as Stubbe essence-hitting voices of more recent art history. Who on occasion of the 300th birthday were followed by a five-year downright exhibition euphoria lead by the 1997/98 touring exhibition through Poland, documented besides by two detailed catalogs (Kielce & Darmstadt). In the latter of which Stefan Morét also traces The Tradition of Animal Depiction (pp. 21-30) and with regard of Ridinger refers especially to Roelant Savery (1576-1639), for his “actual aim … (was) to show the manifold zoological manifestations, the presentation of carefully painted native and exotic animals”, the latter he had become acquainted with as court painter of emperor Rudolph II, at once setting himself apart from the majority of the Dutch colleagues who had to confine themselves to domestic animals. And nothing could be more suggestive to the educationalist Ridinger familiar with the great predecessors than to follow the diversity of this superior interest. At which for Savery as for Ridinger
a triad of animal, landscape, and man
was compositional self-conception .
For which there was no model more outstanding than indeed the account of the Paradise. The related subject of Orpheus (Müllenmeister 203-225) aside, Savery dedicated 15 single pictures to the Paradise (M. 225A-239). While
Ridinger created a
La fem[m]e vit, que le bois étoit bon. Età en manger, et beau aux y eux et agreable à étre vû
12-sheet tour d’horizon as overall experience
and positioned himself by this once more off the main road, developed from a multitude of studies, on the occasion of the eleven ones at Augsburg Gode Krämer remarks:
“ The preparatory drawings for Adam praying and Adam designating the animals show [by the way]
how extraordinarily carefully Ridinger prepared the depictions .
“ Although naturally only a very small part of the preparatory drawings has survived, it can be perceived from the sketch of Adam from the red chalk drawing to the large general preparatory drawing
how much Ridinger strove for the right position of Adam .
“ Even in the unusually large preparatory drawing for the general composition he tried various positions of the left leg. Neither he was clear about the general concept of the depiction, for in front of the drawing one still sees a coiling raised snake and several rabbits which then have been dropped in the executed engraving. Amazing anyway that
for the animals in the Paradise renderings
Elle a donné au maris qui en mangeoit
practically no preparing drawings have been found .
“ One can only conclude that by the long occupation with the depiction of animals Ridinger had
(what Krämer established in analogy already for the horses in the engravings of the elder Gg. Philipp Rugendas).
A tracing back of the first sketches to 1722 (Nagler 6) acc. to Thienemann p. 278, dd (1.) based on errata in Weigel’s catalog of drawings stating for 1744 & 1746 1722 and 1726 resp. Dated drawings of 1740 and especially 1744/46 – one of 1747 in Weigel erroneously 1737 – make a publication of the etched/engraved suite from the 2nd half of the 40s the earliest onward conceivable to merely some extent, as the passage in Ridinger’s biography, which Thienemann (pp. IX/X) erroneously refers to as second biography, admits of no doubt, according to which this
“ presently [is] in the 66th year
and … [works] on the final 2 sheets of his lovely Paradise ”.
So published as Vermischte Nachrichten. / Lebensbeschreibung Herrn Johann Elias Riedingers in Augspurg, in Neue Bibliothek der schönen Wissenschaften und der freyen Künste, II, 1, Leipsic 1766, pp. 137-145.
“In the 66th year” would mean 1764. Since aforementioned reference to the two sheets is missing yet in Kilian’s biography handed over to Ridinger only, so Th., 12 November 1764, the conclusion of the set should have ensued hardly before 1765.
Thienemann’s assumption this one from 1766 would origin from the pen of another anonymous writer, based nonetheless on the likewise anonymous one of 1764, however, were “done in a different style which betrays a man more accustomed to the pen and firmer in orthography”, is not to be followed. For both versions prove as equally familiar with the work. The former throughout, the latter by independent additions as afore with regard to the Paradise. “The author calls himself a friend and pupil of Ridinger’s … [the latter is] signed with K.”, so Th. While for the former, probably not yet for Th., Georg Christoph Kilian is ascertained, the signing K. of the latter refers back to this. Where different stylistics and orthography should hark back to the editor of Neue Bibliothek. – The set of the 12 printing plates from an acquisition of 1999 in the Art Collections Augsburg (see above).
The Abundance of Animals Reflecting the Whole Œuvre
as a tour d’horizon of indeed Creation
And how much Ridinger identified himself with this series, is immediately proven by Weigel’s note according to which
“ The sheets of the Paradise of largest size marked with * the artist had set under glass and frame. They are from the finest period of his artist’s life and with the
abundance known by the engravings of a drawing and execution
as there may be found examples in the drawings of the painters rarely only ”.
Not by chance therefore and considering a graphic œuvre of about 1600 sheet raising particular attention the unique position of the Paradise set in the above
obituary in the press of December 29, 1767 :
(“ Our city and the whole learned Germany has lost 2 famous artists some time ago: Mr. Joh. Ridinger director of the Academy of Arts and Drawing here, and mister Joh. Jac. Haid assessor of the municipal court have died here. Mister Ridinger’s noteworthy work is: the Paradise consisting of 12 large sheets, which is inimitable in the drawing … ”)
And with respect to the captions Stubbe once more :
“ ‘The Paradise …’ is of course foremost about the relation of man to the animal …”
[insert Schwerdt: “ Very fine composition, showing all the animals of the chase in natural surroundings, with beautiful light effects ”]
“ … before and after the Fall of Man, but for such an extended program there were not enough subjects in the biblical Genesis, therefore Ridinger adds with each plate of his depictions literary thoughts of the Fathers of the Church on the Genesis. Of St. Ambrose, the bishop of Milan, he takes ideas from the first of the six ‘libri in Hexaëmeron’ and inspirations from the paper ‘de paradiso’ [additional reference in the plate with leaves 1 & 4: See Brockes poems 8th part pag. 81(?; Th. erroneously 71) and … 7th part pag. 720 resp.], Rupert, abbot of the Benedictine abbey at Deutz [Cologne] died in 1135 … has to contribute from his exegesis … to the Genesis. Also from a homily of St. Augustine … Ridinger draws a text motif … and in the 67 homilies about the Genesis, which St. John Chrysostom … has given [he] finds some inspirations. ”
Adam dit: j’ai oui ta voix au jardin, et j’ai craint …
And since in life everything is a give & take, 1998 a well appreciated “rare” “Sixth Day of Creation” figured in the trade as “Very delicately executed, detailed pen and ink drawing … which supposedly should have served as model for the engraving” of Anton Edler von Weinkopf, secretary of the Vienna academy (1724 – Vienna 1808). Actually it was the truthful, at 18½ × 24 in (47 × 61 cm) sheet size supposedly enlarged copy of the first plate of Ridinger’s Paradise published a few years before, alienated merely by a rocaille framing.
With regard to the work much more interesting, however, that Hugo Helbing’s stock catalog XXXIV (1900), Arbeiten von J. E. und M. E. Ridinger, item 1408, lists a copy of the Paradise with nine sheets of which differing from the norm as following:
“ Supposedly proofs. On the back text to sheets of the Fair Game with their Traces, inscribed Joh. Elias Ridinger Augspurg A. C. 1738 [title sheet of the final state: 1740], from which is apparent that [that] set was published originally in numbers with printed text, of which Th. mentions nothing. Th. 811, 813, 814 without text. ” As here also not provable anywhere else.
In short, in every aspect matchless indeed the six stations each of the rise to quintessential life with palpable illustration particularly of the
“ apocalyptic animal peace ”
realized again and again also by the past masters and the gradual sinking into temptation with all its bad consequences down to the expulsion from the Garden of Eden, which at the same time amounts to a new beginning. Radiating equally lyrics and drama.
And brilliantly the mimics of witnessing all this on the part of the animals.
Which are scared and perturbed about what is looming and ultimately happening in front of their eyes, and they attempt to prevent it. And in the end their lamentation and their collective exodus from the happy, the ideal world, into an everyone against everyone down to man as now adversary. Presented this all, here & now, in the
Dieu dit: n’a tu pas mangé de l’arbre …
delightfully splendid chiaroscuro
of its full sheets of 20½ × 28¾ in (52 × 73 cm; exactly 20⅜-20½ × 28⅛-28¾ in [51.7-52 × 71.3-73 cm]) as neither traded here so far (peak hitherto 18¾-19 × 26⅞-27⅛ in/47.7-48.2 × 68.3-68.8 cm) nor documented elsewhere with indeed relevant data as a rule missing. Ascertained, however, its surpassing of Schwerdt’s copy (20½ × 28 in/52 × 71 cm) as the top hitherto. Resulting in proportionally optimally balanced margins of laterally 3¼-4 in (8.1-10 cm) and for top and bottom, depending on plate size, 2⅜-3⅛ × 1⅞-2½ in (6-7.8 × 4.8-6.2 cm).
The state splendid, solely two sheet with faint brown streak in the white paper margin along the platemark and one sheet with crease hitting the platemark, passing the artist’s inscription by a hair’s breadth. But not one tear! In addition, however, for sheet 1-7 generally a vertical fold running 4 in (10 cm) off the left subject edge and thus touching only marginalia anymore, half of it already rather smoothened out and ultimately rather negligible than ungainly. – Formerly bound unfolded, that is without centerfold – on the left side back the respective remaining guards – the backs partly suggest such former one in the white margin.
La terre sera maudite a l’occasion de toi
The quality of printing brilliant.
And in such a manner just plain optically an unprecedented experience. On heavy laid paper (lines watermark), for its structure without certainly discernible at least typographical watermarks, considered possible, however, the paper mill of the Loth dynasty at Niederwangen on the Argen in the Allgau the Ridingers preferred throughout for their black & white prints. However, also suggesting Ridinger’s 1734 18-sheet New Riding School (Th. 628-645) traded here recently and by its almost identical sheet size of 28½ × 20½ in (72.5 × 52 cm) to be described only as
for whose legible watermark of the heavy laid paper Heawood 3218 f. suggests with “?” a Nuremberg mill, as evidenced by Homann there for 1750 and 1737-1742 etc. resp. Irrespective of incredible timely proximity & exceptional quality this majestic school is available here again in a downright brother copy of indeed present French provenance. Shortly,
The grandiose Paradise set here and now as perfect as indeed only
For a collection beyond the mainstream.
Offer no. 16,311 | EUR 17000. | export price EUR 16150. (c. US$ 17363.) + shipping
Dieu dechassa l’hom[m]e
- KUNSTREICH, op. cit., page 20, ann. 7.↩
- Mannheim July 10, 1771, in Décultot et al. [ed.]. Joh. Gg. Wille. Briefwechsel. 1999. Page 486.↩
- Zurich July 12, 1772, in op. cit., page 499.↩
- Johann Elias Ridinger (1698-1767) / Grafika. Ed. by Muzeum Narodowe w Kielcach. 1997. – Polish-German parallel text.↩
- Stefan Morét and Arnulf Rosenstock. Die Tierdarstellungen von Johann Elias Ridinger. 1999.↩
- Kurt J. Müllenmeister. Roelant Savery / Die Gemälde. 1988.↩
- Ridinger cabinet exhibition of the Augsburg Art Collections 2001.↩
- 37 as “Rich compilations with more or less deviations from the engraved sheets, especially in the sketches” still 1869 in the “Catalog of a Collection of Original Drawings … founded and bequeathed by J. A. G. Weigel in Leipsic” (nos. 779-815).↩
- At which also the obvious recourse to existing material elsewhere should not be overlooked.↩
- Rugendas. Eine Künstlerfamilie in Wandel und Tradition. Exhibition catalog. 1998. Page 27/III. – Augsburger Museumsschriften 10. Ed. by Björn J. Kommer.↩
- Page 229 of Weigel’s already introduced estate catalog of 1869.↩
- op. cit. Page 44↩
- C. F. G. R. Schwerdt. Hunting, Hawking, Shooting illustrated in a catalogue of books, manuscripts, prints and drawings. vol. III. 1928/1985. Page 144.↩
- Supposedly lot 1762 of catalog XXXV of the George Hamminger Collection, Regensburg, sold at auction 1895 at Hugo Helbing in Munich, albeit there with, as the case may be, the erroneous appearance of a not further identified text on the back of all 12 sheets.↩