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Johann Elias Ridinger, Stag in Turn-iron

Already more than 100 Years ago “Exceedingly Rare!”

“ A Method of Hunting
which is not likely to belong to the Noble Pleasure of Hunting ”

Ridinger, Johann Elias (Ulm 1698 – Augsburg 1767). (The Stag caught in the Turn-iron.) Stag of 12 points in thick forest part. Etching with engraving. Apparently before 1728. Inscribed: I. El. Ridinger inv. del. & sculp. / verlegt in Augsburg bey Martin Engelbrecht. 9⅞ × 14 in (25 × 35.7 cm).

Thienemann & Schwarz 75; Silesian Ridinger collection at Boerner XXXIX, within 1787 (in “newer impression” only, 1885!); Reich auf Biehla Collection within 15 (in “new impression” only, 1894!); George Hamminger Collection within 1529 (“Exceedingly rare!”, 1895) & 1530 (new impressions); Helbing, Kat. XXXIV, Arbeiten von J. E. und M. E. Ridinger, (1900), 179 (with caption in writing); Schott, Martin Engelbrecht und seine Nachfolger, p. 150. – Not in the Ridinger catalogs Darmstadt (1999) and Kielce (1997).

Sheet 7 of the instructive 30-sheet set Ways to trap the Wild Animals (“A rare set, of importance to those who are interested in the various methods of trapping wild animals”, Schwerdt 1928, and “Rarest of All Hunting Sets by Ridinger” [Halle, Munich 1928, LXVIII/323]), as a whole missing even in Helbing’s monumental offer Arbeiten von J. E. und M. E. Ridinger (catalog XXXIV [1900], 1554 lots).

“ … ‘The Ways to trap the Wild Animals’ belong to the chief works among Ridinger’s representations of the hunt … here, too, extensive captions are added to the plates which elucidate the depiction … This – typical for Ridinger –

combination of high-quality work of art and … text

should be a reason for the great success of his works ”

(Stefan Morét, Ridinger catalog Darmstadt, 1999, pp. 106 f., erroneously stating 31 sheet as belonging to).

The caption usually missing with this sheet may be according to Thienemann:

“ In previous times one had attempted to captivate even the red deer in the covert of his retreat by comon turn irons of proportionate size covered under leafage; a manner of hunting which is not likely to belong to the noble pleasure of hunting. The representation shows such a miserable prisoner who groans under the pains his smashed foreleg causes him. ”

Marvelous impression of vibrant chiaroscuro with 3-4, above 2.5 cm margin around on the prime-quality cloudy paper known for old though somewhat later impressions.

One of the four “textless” mysterious sheets of the Ways to trap the Wild Animals

(& Th. 74, 89, 91) which bear the address of Martin Engelbrecht (1684-1756, the publishing house of the same name 1719-1827) in Augsburg already from early on, but usually show up without the explaining caption which, however, was known to Thienemann (1856) via Weigel and

for Th. 91 , The Badger captured with the Turnpike , is confirmed

Ridinger, Badger captured with Turnpike (caption)
Detail of the original copper printing plate “The Badger captured with the Turnpike”

per the original copper printing plate available here

and to be claimed for already the early 1720s

as so far the only one of the four – and by this for the other three, too. But, notabene, also with Engelbrecht’s address as Schwarz 74, 89, & 91, too. Two and one resp. of the sheets in question with the caption finally in the collections Hamminger (Th. 74 & 91) and Schwerdt (Th. 91).

Nevertheless the captions deviate from the other sheets of the set by both their brevity and stylistically and Ridinger’s 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.

However, said sheets occur in throughout fine printing quality almost always on laid paper while aforesaid new edition was printed on cloudy vélin (watermarks Thurneisen or Oeser Basel, cf. lot 5172 of the Tenner sale 142, 1982). This then again and again and especially in the absence of deeper knowledge giving rise to according qualifications. So as “before the letter” (Hamminger for Th. 75 & 89; “Exceedingly rare!”, 1895), “Before the letter, only with the artist’s name and (Engelbrecht’s) address” (Schwarz, 1910, in conformity to the above, for 74a & 75), “Proofs” (Schwerdt, 1928, for Th. 74, 75 & 89), “Early impressions before the text” of the otherwise “four sheets published later only” (L’Art Ancien, 1939, on occasion of the offer of the Schwerdt copy), “Prints before the letter, just with artist name and address” (counts Faber-Castell, 1958), “States on laid paper with inscription & Engelbrecht’s address, but before title and caption“.

The latter 1978 even here yet. 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”. 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 sheets 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 !

Offer no. 14,666 | EUR 560. | export price EUR 532. (c. US$ 643.) + shipping


„ Wegen der Eile – das Werk soll Anfang nächster Woche verschenkt werden – würden wir Kurierdienst bevorzugen … Der guten Ordnung halber hier unsere Bestätigung, dass Ihr Paket … wohlbehalten bei uns eingetroffen ist … Wir würden die Verpackung ungern öffnen, weil das gute Stück gleich wieder auf Reisen gehen soll … “

(Herr F. R., 29. Aug./2. Sep. 2013)

 

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