Johann Elias Ridinger, Rhinoceros

Johann Elias Ridinger (Ulm 1698 – Augsburg 1767). Asiatic Rhinoceros. Before reed and tree scenery leaping to the right. Colored etching with engraving. Inscribed: RHINOCEROS. / Nasehorn. / Rhinocerot. / Q(uadrupedum). D(ispositio). s. (quoted by Th. as “§.”) XI. / Familia III. Dreyhufig. / Joh. El. Ridinger ad vivum del. (bold type not in the original) fec. et exc. Aug. Vind. 12⅛ × 8¼ in (30.8 × 20.8 cm).

Thienemann (deviations in type see below) & Schwarz (not quoting the inscription) 1027; J. H. Niemeyer, Joh. El. R. im Reiche der kolor. Thiere / Entstehung und Vollendung einer Folge, pp. 25 f. as issue 22 of schriften der ridinger handlung niemeyer.

IN THE RIDINGERS’ ORIGINAL COLORING 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., sect. XXVIII, Ridinger Appendix 63a as merely 120-sheet torso, 1857 ! , but also just individual plates quite rarely on the market only, at niemeyer’s currently the one as the others all the same). – Remaining uncolored contrary to the prospectus, a second edition from the plates now 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.

EARLIEST STATE of the FIRST EDITION unbeknownst to Thienemann before the removal not only of the “Q. D. S. XI.” as reference to the standard work Quadrupedum dispositio brevisque Historia Naturalis quoted already by Th., but also still with the Familia & Dreyhufig spelled out in full whereas quoted by Th. as “Fam. III. Dreyhufige”. As for instance also Th. 1030 abbreviated in such a manner after the m, yet explicitly not Th. 1029, correct quotation can be presumed. Due to the removal of the Q. D. S. XI. in the final state of the first edition, the line of Th. 1027, moved slightly upwards within the caption, reads Familia III. Dreÿhufige.

With regard to the Q. D. S. XI. references Thienemann incidentally notes in the lead to the Animal Kingdom (p. 200) that they were “still in some Plates” of which he traced only seven. By means of the copy of the Pfeiffer/Weinberg collections here seven and eight resp. could be added as in such a manner earliest states at once!

Pearls thus for collectors, its now subtle, now drastic textual differences turn out upon investigation as downright exciting for development, progress, and finality of the work’s original edition as savored by the old school connoisseur, have him simmer on the hunt for such, as if it were for the return of the Dresden antler of 66 points.

With Klein (“Plinius Gedanensium”, Königsberg 1685 – Danzig 1759; town clerk in Danzig, co-founder and later director of the Danzig Society of Naturalists, 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, following Klein’s classification according to kind and number of extremities – superceded by Linné’s anatomical classification – , supported in his Colored Animal Kingdom undertaking in many ways, too. Accordingly by the preface in his words of thanks he emphasizes “in particular the tremendously beautiful collection of P(rofessor). Klein of the Ludolph estate, which comprises nothing but original items.”

On C & I Honig paper without watermark 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 2.2-3.5 cm, below 3.7 cm wide. – Not worth mentioning a touch of even slight browning, if one wants to notice indeed.

Represented the rare Indian one-horned rhinoceros “Maid Clara”

(Rhinoceros indicus Cuv. / R. unicornis L.), which Douwe Mout van der Me(e)r, master of the Knappenhof of the East India Company, had brought from India to Holland in 1741 at the age of three and shown in Europe until her death in 1758 (so Morét, cf. above; however, Rieke-Müller “About 1741/48”; 1756 Cornelis van Noorde still sketched her at the Haarlem kermess, cf. Sliggers).

Worked from the black chalk drawing in reverse Weigel (1869) 54, with regard to the various positions specified as “6”. Items 50-55 there (Th. IX, 11) should correspond with said six positions. Belonging to the rhinoceros set furthermore the three drawings Weigel 707/09, one of which dated 1754, and both the two pencil outline sketches Th. XII, 7 of which one likely regards the drawing in the Berlin print room (Bock, 1921, 8437; catalog Darmstadt III.12 with ill.).

Following its scientific position, Ridinger’s rhinoceros is in all its manifestations for both the subject and artistically a collectible of degree. So in London 1991 the Ratjen Foundation Vaduz vaulted one of the Clara preparatory drawings specified as “6” from estimated 2-3000 £ to 20000 £. In 2007 it was ultimately acquired by the National Gallery Washington. And only recently at a German auction sale a copy of the b&w print Th. 295 was lifted, doubling the estimate, to a final price of about 1850 euro!

Correspondingly spectacular (“Spectacles must be”, Maria Theresa, “half resigning”) at that time the presentation of “Maid Clara” at Augsburg, which latter at the same time – so Rieke-Müller – was paid reverence to as metropolis:

“ Clara was a rhinoceros born in Assam, the largest of the three Asian species of the rhinoceros … Given the regular and generous feeding, Clara likely weighted a bit more than her fellow species at average, which weigh between 1,800 and 2,700 kilogram … (Her appearance in Europe) sparked a wave of rhinomania as the many orders to record the animal in paintings, printed, as porcelain, bronze, and fabrics prove. Clara’s first appearance in Paris (1749), the fashion capital of the western world, was sensational … Oudry sketched Clara at the fair (of Saint-Germain) between February and late April 1749 as preparation for the painting which he was to present at the upcoming salon (1750) … Oudry drew the extraordinary animal repeatedly to analyze it exactly ”

(Kornelia von Berswordt-Wallrabe, Oudry’s Painted Menagerie – Portraits of Exotic Animals in the Europe of the 18th Cent., 2007/08, pp. 142-144 & V f. incl. text & 2 double full-page color ills.).

As Ridinger had practiced the latter already the year before by said six drawings

for his print Th. 295, the publication of which was effected still the same year of 1748 and made his Clara publication one of her earliest representations. Unless not even kept it as her first of scientific interest. Based, however, as shall be repeated, after he had “seen it at Augsburg alive, as I drew her in (6) different positions from life, in the height I found her 5½. in the length 11½. feet, of color she was dark brown below at the trunk at the breast and in the depth of the folds superimposed upon each other she is broken reddish …” to add her, standing to the left, hot off the press to his Representation of the Most Wondrous Deer as well as Other Particular Animals published in numbers contrary to Dürer and therefore as a milestone of zoological knowledge. Yet for the time being in black & white only!

By which the matter would not have to rest, when from 1754 on his Colored Animal Kingdom was published, in which he now

published two of his further Clara drawings for the first time .

And now indeed in color !

“ It is quite a well-made portraiture, leaping, and excellently colored. It is a pity it is so little known and used for scientific works ” (Th. 1856).

Present Clara still worked into the copper by the master himself thus leaping. Followed by one sprawled to the left again presently not available here (Th. 1028), yet contrary to the original with a second horn added by the sons as Thienemann reprimands severely.


Offer no. 16,280 | price on application

Ridinger’s Colored Animal Kingdom in Original Coloring

available in

A Great Plenitude of Individual Plates


An Absolutely Exceptional Complete Provenance Copy

  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. For instance of one Julius Hofmann, “author of the best (graphical) Goya catalog”, of whom the great Max Lehrs also said on occasion of the dissolution of his collection in 1922: “He still believed in the importance of the states, the pointed or rounded plate corners … chisel slips, etch stains, polished margins … as only the intimate association with an old friend brings forth” (Boerner CXXXVIII).
  3. Built 1731 for the Kamer van Amsterdam at the VOC shipyard there as hekboot of 130 foot length for 650 tons payload and 150/180 men compliment. 1754 sold to Batavia.
  4. Annelore Rieke-Müller, ‘ein Kerl mit wilden Thieren’ – Zur sozialen Stellung und zum Selbstverständnis von Tierführern im 18. Jahrhundert in Das XVIII. Jhdt. XXIV, 2 (2000), pp. 163 ff.
  5. Bert Sliggers, Het schetsboek van Cornelis van Noorde (1731-1795), 1982, pp. 146 f.
  6. From Jean-Baptiste Oudry’s (Paris 1686 – Beauvais 1755) circle here available the drawing of a bear hunt.

1959 · decades-long ridinger expertise · 2022