“ Back to the Sources, to the Mothers ”

(Gottfried Benn)

Johann Elias Ridinger, The Badger captured with the Turnpike

Present Original Printing Plate to Th. 91
unveiled the Mystery of the Covered Caption

Johann Elias Ridinger (Ulm 1698 – Augsburg 1767). The Badger captured with the Turnpike. Copper printing plate in reverse. Apparently before 1728. Inscribed: I. El. Ridinger inv. del. & sculp. / verlegt in Augsburg bey Martin Engelbrecht, otherwise as above and with the following 4-line caption, all in German. 10⅛ × 14¼ in (25.6 × 36.1 cm).

Niemeyer, Ridinger Erlebnisse 1698-2020, 2021, p. 99.

The optically excellently preserved original printing plate to sheet 23 (etching with engraving, Thienemann & Schwarz 91) of the hard to complete Ways to trap the Wild Animals of 1750

in the reddish golden brilliance of its almost 300 years old copper .

And a precious, worldwide unique collector’s object of degree here traced back far beyond Thieme-Becker (vol. XXVIII, 1933, p. 308) & Thienemann (1856, p. XXIII) seamlessly directly to the master’s estate itself, the plate additionally presents the crucial solution

to one of the most interesting Ridinger mysteries

pertaining the four puzzling deviations (Th. 74, 75, 89, 91) of the set which from early on bear the address of Martin Engelbrecht (1684-1756, the publishing house of the same name 1719-1827) in Augsburg and – with the exception of Thienemann & Schwarz and for Th. 74 & 91 within item 1529 of the Hamminger Collection, too – are only known in impressions without the explanatory caption

“ Man often has to ally with cunning to catch the unsuspicious creature he has chosen for his hunting pleasure. To the different ways of catching the badger also belongs an own device which resembles a turnpike that is erected in front of the tunnel of the badger’s earth. Between four posts is the movable turnpike which is put up by a piece of wood at a cord. If the badger wants to leave his earth he knocks down the wood while trying to get through the mentioned device, the turnpike falls down and the poor animal is smashed by the considerable weight of this deadly machine ”

and thus had been misqualified hitherto predominantly as “before the letter” (Hamminger for Th. 75 & 89; “Exceedingly rare!”, 1895), “Proofs” (Schwerdt, 1928, for Th. 74, 75 & 89), “Early impressions before the text” of the otherwise “four sheets published only later” (L’Art Ancien, 1939, on occasion of the Schwerdt copy), “Impressions before the letter, just with the artist’s name and address” (Alexander Count of Faber-Castell, 1958), “Proofs on laid paper with inscription & Engelbrecht address, but before title and caption”.

The latter 1978 even here still. With the first-time reference to the insufficiently described characteristics and the priority of states indeed, yet putting inappropriate consequence on Weigel’s Art Stock Catalog, sect. XXVIII (1857), Ridinger appendix, 7 B, according to which “with later impressions (of the set) the caption of nos. 74, 75, 89, and 91 had been covered, and these carry the address of Engelbrecht”. At which it shall be repeated that the Engelbrecht edition of about 1824 has been printed on paper without lines watermark, while even connoisseurs rated the four captionless sheets in question as early prints due to the quality of both their printing and the characteristic lines watermark of the laid paper.

Thienemann’s (1856) “now and then” these four sheet would carry no caption and Engelbrecht’s address should suggest newer impressions can be interpreted only to the contrary. “Now and then” there are indeed prints with the letter. So obviously the copy Weigel XXVIII, Ridinger 7 A, upon which Thienemann should have rested. Then Schwarz (1910) for Th. 74, 89 & 91, but all already with Engelbrecht’s address, 74a, in conformity to the above, only with the artist’s name and Engelbrecht’s address as “before” (!) the letter.

Yet all this referring expressly to this group of four. Optically similar other variants, as for instance Gutmann’s copy of the Otter of the set, Schwarz 93a (before any letter), concern independent characteristics of state.

Center of research therefore that the captions deviate both by their brevity of merely four lines and stylistically as Ridinger’s said inscription with Latinized “I” as documented only rarely and then for supposedly mostly early works, partly not yet etched by himself. Whereas Engelbrecht’s “published at” instead of the usual “excudit” rather suggests the period after Ridinger when about 1824/25 a new edition was published by Engelbrecht-Hertzberg. Where the set of the Ways to trap the Wild Animals totaled only 28 sheet anymore though.

Not to be missed, too, that Ridinger’s earliest and even more rare hunting set, the Grand Seigneurs’ Pleasure in all Kinds of the Hunt, Th. 1-8, had been published about 1722 by Engelbrecht. From which summa summarum crystallized

that these four plates must belong to Ridinger’s earliest genuine engravings ,

thus created between c. 1724 and 1728 as first showing of his inscription as etcher/engraver, too (“sculps. Aqua forti”, so for the Animal Pieces after Joh. Hch. Roos, Th. 793-802), until 1728 still for third parties. Here then for the anyway befriended Martin Engelbrecht as another one of the latter’s sets of four, frequently with rhymed captions. Into which canon they obviously did not quite fit, so that only later they succeeded in the larger setting of Ridinger’s own 1750 series of the Ways to Trap the Wild Animals, although by no means satisfying the requirements of the other’s captions. With the result of their covering in print as handed down by Weigel. And would explain the rarity of copies with the caption. And at the same time an indeed possible, albeit not quite accessible general deadline pressure for their publication. For generally the more comprehensive sets were published peu à peu.

If still grinding off and re-engraving of the captions was foregone, the reason can be found only in that stressful workload which about this time had Ridinger as just about 50-year-old rather reject an important follow-up order in oil by czarina Elizaveta Petrovna, daughter of Peter the Great. So this by letter of 29 June 1748 to Johann Georg Wille in Paris.

And 1750 reception of the Tiepolos on their passing through to Würzburg for the large-scale contract as the highest paid — 25000 Rhenish guilders, 3000 guilders trip money, free board & lodging befitting his social status, and all material expenses anyhow — in the career of the legendary Giambattista and the “biggest fresco anyhow he (or any other artist) ever painted … the court’s coffers were utterly exhausted” (Ludwig Wagner, Wie kam der Superstar in die Provinz).

What a highlight on Ridinger !

Of whom several animals from the prints instantaneously appeared in some of Giambattista’s Würzburg frescoes, only to be reused from the late 1750s up to the 1790s by Giandomenico for frescoes of the family’s country seat at Zianigo!

And what continual manifestation of Ridinger !

Just as the showing up of present original plate to Th. 91

as so far only one of the four

now provided firm ground for all the speculation hitherto that it, and by this the other three, too, indeed exists with the caption, as exemplary documented above already for Schwarz and Hamminger. And hence this evidentially merely had been covered for all “Proofs” and “early prints”. With the exception of certainly Schwarz 93 a, “before all letter”. By which this plate proves as

the cornerstone of a greatly interesting detail

in the Ridinger research, pricelessly valuable for any Ridinger collection of degree! And above all: this plate can still be acquired!

So far, so good. And right. Up to thought assessment here that these four works are the earliest to the only far later set. Now indeed transferred to copper by Ridinger himself already, but still for third party, that is Engelbrecht. Furnished with his favored text. With which Ridinger, after acquiring and using the plates for himself, would not identify. And covered it in print as stress did not allow, see above.

Ridinger’s extensive own words thus had been quashed!

And this then the sensation come across from Czechia

where in the manor house at Datschitz, embedded in scientific collections of comprehensive character, among the few remains of the once standards-setting Ridinger inventory of Friedrich Ferdinand Baron of Dalberg (Vienna 1822 – Datschitz 1908) per inv. no. c D 15189

the washed preparatory drawing in reverse with adequate text

to Th. 89 (c. 11¾ × 15⅜ in [30 × 39 cm]) under the besides differing heading Bait Place for Foxes and the Shooting Cabin set up there has been preserved!

The above then in contrast to the pair of plates to Th. 389/90 passed on here to Augsburg as no less curious parallel with, however, reversed premise. For while the plates above always have been discussed as without caption and the appearance of one of the latter, indeed the present one, provided the decisive answer, sheets Th. 389/90 with their caption offered no peculiarities hitherto. Until their printing plates began to speak, too. Yet contrary to the one above proving to be cooperative, those two proved to be anything but helpful. For on them for no yet known reason the caption – and even including the inscription – is ground out indeed and still clearly perceptible. But so far without impressions without letter having become known here!

“ It is breathtaking again and again what offers you can make ”

so an international publisher on a previous Ridinger occasion. And just for quite ordinary plates Stefan Morét stated in the Darmstadt Catalog (p. 63):

“ Preserved original 18th century printing plates are a great rarity ”

How much more then one like the one here!

See furthermore the Darmstadt Catalog plates I.13, I.8 & I.11, color illustration 6 & ills. pages 63 f. And continuing especially on Ridinger’s:

“ Of the high technical and qualitative standard of works of Ridinger and his sons collaborating in the workshop especially as engravers the (only very partially) preserved printing plates bear witness still today. ”

To the same effect then already before Bernadette Schöller in Der Kölner Graphikmarkt zur Zeit Wenzel Hollars within Wenzel Hollar – Die Kölner Jahre ed. by Werner Schäfke, Cologne 1992, p. 19:

“ The copper-plates

which on the basis of both their material value and the hours of work invested therein , too ,

enjoyed a far higher esteem

than, e.g., a preparatory drawing handled only too often disrespectfully …”

Analogously then here on occasion of the re-appearance of parts of the so-called Thieme-Becker block of Ridinger’s printing plates “One of the most sensational discoveries in art history … Ridinger’s original printing (sic!!!) plates”. That present one

has been worked exclusively by the master’s own hand

shall be mentioned expressly. Just as documented by the inscription above.

Shielded from tarnishing by fine application of varnish, the plate is generally printable in the ordinary course of its use through the times, however, it is offered and sold as a work of art and a collector’s item, thus without prejudice to its eventual printing quality. – In short,

an extremely fascinating , worldwide unique absolutum

of exceptionally high verification value

and in such a way rather for an already mature collection .

Proposed to you with the recommendation of a timeless-elegantly frameless hanging (fittings included) for that you shall experience the respective light reflections on both subject and caption to the fullest.

Offer no. 15,011 | price on application

And what

did private Ridinger plate purchasers say?

“ You have surprised me ”,

so a retired presiding judge purchasing two of these cimelies of which he had impression been done
(cf. Ridinger catalog Darmstadt, 1999, I.10 & I.12).

“ I would like to thank you,

the plates are more beautiful than I had expected,

I take both , no question ”,

so an entrepreneur who in the meantime bought three further ones.

And in 2001 the Augsburg Art Collections presented the acquired 12-plate set for the Paradise suite within the exposition “KUNSTREICH“ as the important acquisitions of the last decade (catalog KUNSTREICH no. 102, pp. 198-201).

Originating besides

from the so-called Thieme-Becker Block re-emerged after the “turnaround” — “444 copper printing plates (in reverse) currently (1933) in private est(ate). in (Berlin) Charlottenburg” — and here researched seamlessly back into the Ridinger estate, correcting all the loss attributions supposed by Thienemann (1856).

Johann Elias Ridinger, The Badger captured with the Turnpike

– – – The same in a contemporary impression on strong laid paper without the explanatory caption. Inscribed: I. El. Ridinger inv. del. & sculp. / verlegt in Augsburg bey Martin Engelbrecht, otherwise in German as above. 9 × 13⅞ in (22.9 × 35.1 cm). – Trimmed below within the wide white platemark, above to the platemark, laterally with fine margin around the white platemark of c. 5 mm. – See the complete description.

Offer no. 16,156 | price on application

  1. Jan Mikeš und Renata Mikešová. Zámek Dačice. Proměny interiérů od renesance k dnešku. 2015. Color illustration page B101. – ISBN 978-80-87890-14-1

1959 · decades-long ridinger expertise · 2022