A  Work  of  Self-Identification

Proving  more  and  more  Important for

the  Unknown  Ridinger

The  Hippocrene


The  Donation  of  Water

inspired  by  Watteau

Ridinger, Johann Elias (Ulm 1698 – Augsburg 1767). The Hippocrene. The Horse’s or Muse’s Fountain at the Parnas or Helicon as column of water rising up like a dome. With fountain architectonics, here the overgrown arch of a grotto, dominated by the fountain’s and Muse’s horse Pegasus and populated by the nine Muses as the guardians of the spring as well as river gods as the equally mandatory attributes of the fountain. Etching + engraving. Before c. 1746. 13¾ × 11¼ in (34.9 × 28.7 cm).

Augsburg Art Collections, Exhibition Catalogue KUNSTREICH – Acquisitions 1990-2000, 2001, no. 101 with full-page + 4 detail ills.

Johann Elias Ridinger, Hippocrene

Dismissed  by  the  master  –

published  for  the  first  time  here  to  his  300th  birthday

as , so  a  museum’s  comment ,

“ a  fine  enlargement  of  Ridinger’s  œuvre …

… to  celebrate  and  document  the  300th  this  way  (is)

so  splendid  and  charming  since  so  appropriate ”.

One of six Roman numbered I/VI preferential prints in reddish black on heavy laid paper. Besides there are ten ordinary prints in black numbered Arabic 1/10 on the same as well as some épreuves d’éditeur from the uncleaned plate, also in additional colors and on further papers, all with the autograph signature of ridinger dealer lüder h. niemeyer together with the date of February 16th, 1998, as the master’s 300th birthday and comprehensive stamp to this edition on the back. Two prints remaining with the printer without signature and stamp. – Roman I and one of the épreuves belonging to the complete set of the original copper printing plates of the series of the Deer’s Four Times of Day created about 1746 (Th. 238-241), the Evening plate of which revealed on its back during cleaning work the Hippocrene as

composition apparently dismissed by the master

and here described for the very first time .

Thematically merely close, but not related to the group of the “Fountains” Thienemann (878-881) called “Mythological Pyramids”, it is an autonomous work.

Mythological background of the time of interest here is that when Pegasus “silenced the Helicon rising up to heaven in ecstasy about the Muses’ songs by a hoofbeat and by this at the same time kicked forth

enchanting  Fountain  of  the  Muses  Hippocrene ”

(Meyers Konversations-Lexikon, 4th ed., XII, 804, Pegasos/Horse of the Spring).

Just to the sides of the horse the Muse of Painting not designated for her own with maulstick and palette along with brushes in her left, pressing a groundhigh slab to herself, and Thalia as later guardian of theater in general, here with the comic mask, but in her raised right. What intellectually leads to Hogarth’s later last self-portrait combining both as painter with palette + brush before the canvas, “on which he paints the personification of his artistic inspirations, the comic muse with the mask (Hogarth Catalog Zurich, 1983, p. 18 along with illustrations pp. 17 + 135, dating the oil on ca. 1757, followed by the copper-work published March 29, 1758).

On the same level outwards Aphrodite casting the horoscope and Clio as herald of history. After two bird-shaped gargoyles held by puttos – two reptile-like ones then far down at the bottom – the other five Muses, partly bathing their feet, follow. The two in front right may be Erato related especially to erotic poetry, here without attributes only standing and propping herself up, and Terpsichore responsible for dance & choir singing, but then with plectrum only. Of the two located on the left one with yardstick. In between on the water group of river gods.

The  self-identification  with  the  Muse  of  Painting

is  conspicuous  and  leads  directly  to  his  own  ex-libris ,

Schwarz, 1569 with illustration. On this in front of a herma of Minerva as patroness of the painters, too, a boy rests on his maulstick holding also a high slab standing on the ground bearing the motto

“Nulla  dies  sine  linea”  –  No  day  without  a  brush  stroke

hence as expression of an absolute necessity of life. Accordingly flanked by the instruments of engraving including plate and utensils for painting.

And culminating in Stillfried-Schwarz 1427 along with variant 1477 as the

rule  of  death .

With the painters’ utensils now amidst the lumber. And once again next to a large stone slab the master also uses in his ordinary work.

With both ex-libris and Rule of Death turning out to be the final support for the claim of Ridinger for the Hippocrene, answering by this also the question of origin of the group of fountains that Thienemann had left unsettled.

Reflecting one of the most famous of those fountains

“ created  for  the  good  and  benefit  of  man ”

by the mythological gods which they had been taken care of by nymphs and Muses as something exceedingly valuable. Only they had the power to provide the spring with

“ the  powers  of  the  earth

which  were  seen  as  the  reason  for  the

inspiring  and  healing  effects  of  water ”

(Meyers, ibid., XIII, 511 f., Quellenkultus/Cult of Springs).

And is seen so until today and used in most manifold kinds. Therewith, however, a


as  one  of  the  most  precious  +  delicious  gifts  on  earth .

Created by one of the greatest artists close to nature in fine nearness to Antoine Watteau’s drawings corresponding with each other, “Temple of Diana” & “The Arbor”, both about 1714 and engraved by Gabriel Huquier for the drawing part (1726) of the Recueil Jullienne. In which the different design of the sides of the “Temple of Diana” invited Huquier to work two etchings after this: the Temples of Diana and Neptune (Nagler, Huquier, 41 f.). As then water gardens are present also at the “Arbor”, whose two little water spillers Ridinger quotes in the said water spitting birds held by puttos.

As evidenced also by other examples documented here mostly for the first time Ridinger was decidedly intimately familiar with the Recueil Jullienne and so got inspired for his Hippocrene by the models there mentioned above, however, at a quite different result. See the partly color illustrations of which at Pierre Rosenberg + L. A. Prat, Antoine Watteau / Catalogue raisonné des dessins, 1996, pp. 370-373, 1248/49 + 1402/03 and in the catalogues of the touring exhibitions Washington etc. 1984/85, pp. 140-144, + New York etc. 1999/2000, pp. 108-111.

Almost of the same size as the Watteaus, for Ridinger’s Hippocrene applies what Margaret Morgan Grasselli points out in the 84 catalog to the former’s Arbor :

“ This drawing … is at the same time

one  of  his  most  accomplished .

Besides it is one of the relatively few ornamental drawings (to which also the “Hounds and Death Game” in Rotterdam belong, p. 106) which are to be ascribed to him with absolute certainty.

Each smallest detail of this drawing indicates that it originates from the time of his greatest maturity: the variety, the ingenuity … the perfect design … the distinct energy which penetrates the whole work. ”

And analogously finally

“ … because we don’t have any indications for a painting hereto, we could proceed on the assumption that Watteau had never followed up the project. ”

Not least as further example of his mastership in imaginative variation entirely unappreciated in the past as, equally related to Watteau, documented here as ascertained for his Self-Portrait in the Wood (Th. XIX, 1) or quite in superior style for his Cythera Lady (Schwarz 1471), doubtless true for his Lady with the Black Mask (Schwarz 1458), too. Representing mature art fed by old and great tradition.

“ Great artists seldom cite each other literally. In some cases they pay homage to a predecessor by alluding unobtrusively in their own creations to other ideas ”

(Dirk De Vos, Rogier van der Weyden, 1999, p. 36, with the reference to Dieric Bouts [about 1420 – 1475] as the probably first example of “such a fruitful adoption”).

His Hippocrene published here supposedly for the very first time in besides elitist tiny worldwide edition only. To match the size of the three other plates of the set of “The Deer’s Four Times of Day” present back work might be shortened marginally a little in its composition. Besides printing was done with all the due consideration for the deer scenery on the other side, a handling which inevitably should have been regarded as dispensible in the reverse case, so that the Hippocrene etching was not perfectly virginal anymore. Nevertheless an attractive object on the wall, too.

And last, but not least, beyond all the above-mentioned the evidently intended, yet just so evidently ran offside and ergo dismissed reverence for

Augsburg’s  St.  Ulric

as  the  water  and  fount  patron  of  the  town

in his continual presence in the grandiose Basilica St. Ulric and Afra (see i. a. the corresponding fine woodcut with the Saint in the Hortus Conclusus before a landscape with crosier and book with fish in “Gloriosorum christi confessorum Udalrici & Symperti: nec non beatissimæ martyris Aphræ, Augustanæ sedis patronorum quam fidelissimorum historiæ” by Berno von Reichenau and Adilbertus von Augsburg, Augsburg 1516, but also Gabriel Spitzel’s portrait of Johann Christoph Thenn, protestant parson of the Ridinger age at St. Ulric, worked in mezzotint by Johann Jacob Ridinger).

Reverence left undone yet also with respect to the city’s three famous fountains built between 1593 & 1602 “as main ornaments of Augsburg” (Meyers Konv.-Lex., 4th ed., II [1888], 87/II).

Offer no. 13,279 / EUR  1022. / export price EUR  971. (c. US$ 1174.) + shipping

– – – – The same in one of the ten copies in black numbered in Arabic.

Offer no. 13,280 / EUR  868. / export price EUR  825. (c. US$ 997.) + shipping

„ Habe heute Ihre Sendung dankend erhalten. Freue mich schon, das Buch meinem Mann … zu Weihnachten zu schenken. Liebe Grüße aus … am Dachstein “

(Frau K. G., 12. September 2007)


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