The  Terrific  Finale


No  Frills  Fantastic  Main  Sheet

in  the  Copy  Counts  Faber-Castell

– acquired  with  “Invoice  of  14/3 1914” –

Ridinger, Johann Elias (Ulm 1698 – Augsburg 1767). OMNIA MIHI SUBDITA. The Rule of Death. Tomb with death from whose head with an hour-glass adorned with bat wings on top a veil flows down on the back and laterally, enthroned above all the stuff of this world – represented outer right by a hemisphere – as there are gold, goods, seals + orders, crowns, scepter, orb + weapons, folios + cassock, scientific + agricultural instruments and nolens volens maulstick + palette with brushes. The right, however, holds a high tombstone, pointing with an arrow marked as “Presens” in the left at the inscription’s said final words OMNIA MIHI SUBDITA. Mezzotint + outline by Johann Jacob Ridinger (1736 Augsburg 1784). Inscribed: Ioh. Iac. Ridinger sculps. / Ioh. El. Ridinger delin. et exc. Aug. Vind., otherwise as above and below. 21⅞ × 16⅝ in (55.7 × 42.2 cm).

Johann Elias Ridinger, The Rule of Death


Counts Faber-Castell

their Ridinger sale 1958
with its lot no. 146/2
as well as by the collection in pencil “(Invoice of) 14/3 1914”
on the underlay carton

Radulf Count of Castell-Rüdenhausen


Stillfried (3rd appendix to Thienemann, 1876) + Schwarz (Gutmann Collection, 1910) 1427 (without reference to outline engraving), here though as state II (of II) as unbeknownst to either; Reich auf Biehla 296 ( “Extremely rare”, 1894 ! Without reference to state/version); Wend, Ergänzungen zu den Œuvreverzeichnissen der Druckgrafik, I/1 (1975), 290 with knowledge of Stillfried/Schwarz; Georg Hamminger 1886 (erroneously as St. 1527; “Mounted. Of greatest rarity”, 1895 ! Ditto without knowledge of state/version); Faber-Castell 146 (without recognition as differing second state, otherwise together with Schwarz 1477); Niemeyer, (The Vanitas Symbolism with Johann Elias Ridinger) in Wunderlich (ed.), L’Art Macabre 2, 2001, illustration p. 105 (copy of the National Print Room Munich).

Not in Thienemann (1856) , Weigel, Art Stock Catalog, pts. I-XXVIII (1838/57) , Silesian Ridinger collection at Boerner XXXIX (1885) , Coppenrath Collection (1889 f.) , Helbing XXXIV (Arbeiten von J. E. und M. E. Ridinger, 1554 items; 1900) , Schwerdt (1928/35) , Rosenthal, Ridinger list 126 (1940).

The  second  state  as  unbeknownst  to  both  Stillfried  and  Schwarz

of , as  hitherto  not  recognized , the  first  version

of  this  incredibly  fascinating  sheet

from the plate shortened at top with at the same time modified signature, both according to the copy of the National Print Room Munich, too.

The reduction concerns 1.5 cm imageless filling of the plate above the arch. Within the signature the original “Iacob” + “excud.” are each abbreviated at “c”. If the deviations in writing and punctuation of the stone inscription, see below, quoted by Schwarz only partially are real or due to an incorrectness of Stillfried must largely be left aside. The comma in the 1st line after “curo” noted by both Stillfried and Schwarz missing in the copy here.

Schwarz’ presumption that the differences of his variant 1477 unbeknownst to Stillfried were merely due to the reworking of the plate is incorrect. As proven below it is a repeated version from its own plate with, however, a decisive re-attachment of weight in the inscription’s message.

Pictorially  marvelous  zenith

of  Ridinger’s  vanitates

also  pervading  the  hunting  œuvre

of great compositional abundance, based upon own design, and by inclusion of the painter’s tools with the attributes of transitoriness going beyond the drawing “Self-portrait with Death” of 1727 in the Berlin Print Room (color illustrations in L’Art Macabre 2, s. a., p. 94 + Ridinger Catalogue Darmstadt, 1999, p. 54, as well as, b/w, per I.5, p. 61).

All in the radiating light of the one from whose head bat wings will lead away the run out hour-glass, the “Presens” arrow determines the direction and the “Preteritum” arrow points at the ground. But in the quiver there is the arrow “Futurum”, however this will ever appear. And its banner flies, contrarily to both the two others, in jolly assuredness.

Johann Elias Ridinger, Omnia mihi subdita

The  tomb  inscription

as following, wherein the hyphens of the last words of the first five lines have to be replaced by a “lis” each, that of the following six by an “are” as globally illustrated laterally:

“ Sum qui non curo quis aut qua- / Nil mihi dignitas Papa- / Nec valet majestas Rega- / Stultus et sapiens æqua- / Dives et pauper est morta- / Non juvat hic se excus- / Nec ad Apostolicam sede(m) apell- / Dona promitere aut don- / Seu clam se velle alien- / Pacem non mecum est tract- / Nec dico quando quis vel qu- // OMNIA MIHI / SUBDITA ”.

The Present arrow run from the skeleton’s left pointed between the words OMNIA + MIHI. In the repetition Schwarz 1477 Ridinger has specified this message even more condensed as now the head of the arrow unmistakably points at the M of MIHI.

Provisionally for Stillfried’s quotation of the inscription the following variations of writing/punctuation shall be noted: comma after curo (so likewise in Schwarz, here missing), small letters for p, r, a in papa-, rega- + apostolicam, the bar over the e standing for the m in sede(m) expanded as m, promitere with double t, comma after quando, capitalization of only the O in OMNIA MIHI SUBDITA as well as final full stop.

The heavy stone slab itself typical for Ridinger as such one occurs repeatedly in his work up to the programmatic personal book-plate (Schwarz 1569) with his painter’s utensils where a boy armed with the maulstick holds it, manifesting the master’s absolute necessity of life: “Nulla dies sine linea” – No day without brush stroke. In the transitory junk of the sheet here the painter’s tools by the way once more a unison with Hogarth who closed his graphic work with the sheet of the Dying Time (Tail Piece, or The Bathos) of April 1764, thus six months before his death, on which, however, the palette additionally is demonstratively broken.

The  both  in  print  as  preservation

very  fine  copy

Counts  Faber-Castell

in velvety brown-black with palpable chiaroscuro and the watermarks WANGEN and separate IV standing for contemporary impressions and surrounding margins of 4-8 mm. Both the two upper corners of it with backed tiny injury due to previous removal of old corner mounting on blue paper. On the left side besides backed minimal marginal tear outside of the platemark. In he lower left corner faint tidemark visible only in the white margin and the signature field. In the subject itself apart from that a small thin paper spot perceptible against the light only and a pinhead-small abrasion in the background of the vault.

The  extreme  rarity

of  the  sheet

magnified  in  the  present  case

by  its  2nd  state  described  here  for  the  first  time .

With regard to the precious mezzotint technique in general finally – in Faber-Castell’s written inventory present here stressed by exclamation mark + underline as “Schabk!” (Mezzotint!) – Thienemann resumed already 160 years ago with the words:

“ The  mezzotints  are  almost  not  available  in  the  trade  anymore

… all worked by and after Joh. El. Ridinger (are) that rare that they are to be found almost only in some public, grand print rooms. I have come across most of the described ones only in the famous print room at Dresden … ”

(pages VIII & 270).

A situation also possible new editions could change little as according to the expert Sandrart (1675) the technically conditioned extremely fast wearing off mezzotint plate only permits 50-60 good impressions.

So the sheet in question presented for the first time by Count Stillfried only 20 years after Thienemann’s print room visits. It documents the inseparable-multi-layered Ridinger, the artist in his entirety. For the “harmless“ Ridinger of common art historian’s judgement never existed thank goodness. Rather he remained

“ one  of  the  few  German  baroque  artists

… who … never  fell  into  oblivion ”

(Rolf Biedermann, [Master Drawings of German Baroque], 1987, p. 338).

1914  –  1958  –  2018

You  have  to  be  very  young

should  you  think

you  could  wait  and  see  with  present  sheet .

Offer no. 14,857 / price on application

“ … the (Leonardo) volumes just arrived. Perfect condition! Thank you for the excellent packing … I am looking forward to many hours of enjoyment. I will contact my friend and have him contact you regarding sale of the other set. Thank you again and I look forward to future business with you! Regards as always ”

(Mr. M. W., August 22, 2011)


The  Cream  of  the  Day