Siege & Conquest  of  Halicarnassus

by  Alexander  the  Great

(334 B.C.)

in  the  with  29¾ × 36⅛ in (75.5 × 91.8 cm)

Largest  Ridinger  of  the  Graphic  Œuvre

in  the  Copy  Counts  Faber-Castell

Ridinger, Johann Elias (Ulm 1698 – Augsburg 1767). Obsidio et expugnatio (see below) Halicarnassi, urbis totius cariæ capitis. / The Siege (and Conquest) of the Capital Halicarnassus by Alexander the Great. The battle turmoil – with boar hound chasing along just in front lower left above Ridinger’s inscription as such one also swims along on the 331 first Passage of the Tigris and on an Alexander drawing of 1723, for both see below, “Ridinger hounds” also guard the signature, while in the riding school from 1722 two boar hounds watch over the exercises of Th. 620 – according to the following caption in the first year of Alexander’s campaign, 334 BC, with Alexander on surely Bukephalos right in middle distance, giving orders to two warriors on foot. Engraving by Johann Daniel Herz I (1693 Augsburg 1754). Early 1720s. Inscribed: LXXXVII (platemark upper center) / Ioh. Elias Ridinger invent. et delin. (in the text margin lower left) / Senior Iohann Daniel Herz sculp et exc Aug. V. (in the subject margin lower right), otherwise in Latin-German as above and below. Sheet size 29¾ × 36⅛ in (75.5 × 91.8 cm).


Th. Reich auf Biehla (?)

his sale Leipsic 1894

Counts  Faber-Castell

their Ridinger sale 1958
with its lot no. 65
in red in the lower margin between the text columns

Thienemann 917 + Supplement pp. 296 ff. ( “a  sheet  occurring  now  only  rarely ”, 1856! ); Schwarz 917 (recte state II of II instead of state I); Reich auf Biehla Collection 917 (“Without platemark, mounted [like here, too]. Fine composition. Extremely rare”, 1894); Gg. Hamminger Collection 1831 (mounted, 1895); Helbing XXXIV (Arbeiten von J. E. und M. E. Ridinger, 1900) 1488 (“Rare”).

Nagler, Ridinger, XIII, p. 162 ( “rich composition” ); Thieme-Becker XXVIII (1934), 308-311: VII. Miscellanea: (Two) Battles of Alexander the Great.

Not  among the extensive Ridinger inventories at Weigel, Art Stock Catalog I-XXVIII (1838/57) , Silesian Ridinger Collection at Boerner XXXIX (1885) , Coppenrath (1889/90) + Schwerdt (1928/35) , as then also here through the decades present for the first time.

The  monumental  sheet

Johann Elias Ridinger, Alexander the Great's Siege of Halicarnassus

–  pendant  to  the  331  Passage  of  the  Tigris  –

in the second state after modification of the former inscription “Cum Privileg. Sac. Cæs. Majest. / Ioh. Daniel Hertz sculpsit / Hæred. Ieremiæ Wolffij excud. Aug. Vind.” as erroneously described as second state by Schwarz per 917a

of  marvelous  printing  condition  of  vibrant  chiaroscuro

with laterally tiny margin around the subject edge, below 3 mm below the text and at top 5 mm above the subject edge with the number not mentioned by Thienemann + Schwarz. – Old doubling with smoothening of former vertical centerfold and of ultimately very good general condition as not the norm with such difficult-to-preserve oversizes –

the  impression  yet  from  but  one  ( sic ! )  plate !

Illegible blind stamp between the two columns of the caption and aforementioned lot no. there in red. A small slight overinking at the left lower subject edge ending in one word each of the first two Latin text lines.

Early  work  of  Ridinger’s

created soon after his return – to be set not before 1719 – from the three-year stay with Baron (so Allgemeine Deutsche Biographie contrary to Kilian/Thienemann: Count) Metternich in Regensburg, when “all connoisseurs … admired his skill and strength in both historic and animal pieces” (Th.) while he nevertheless not yet worked in copper himself. So “at first there (he) painted several historical representations for the art dealer Dan. Herz” (Nagler; recte Jeremias Wolff, additionally documented for Herz, too, 1732 only, see below), of these concerning Alexander besides the present Siege of Halicarnassus the 331 Passage of the Tigris at Bedzabde (Th. 918) for the encounter with Darius (III, last of the Persian kings) with the decisive battle at Gaugamela near Arbela October 1st. Both qualified by Nagler, who erroneously claims the crossing for the Granicus, thus knew the sheet at least without its caption only, as “rich compositions”, they are at the same time

marvelous  examples  of  early  maturity  and  perfection

as already repeatedly stated by example of other early works (“therefore this drawing is of importance for the knowledge of his already perfect style in early years”, Nebehay 88,2 on the drawing for Th. 1 from 1721). Foremost, however, Ridinger’s

tribute  to  the  Alexander  cult  of  his  time

and  as  expression  of  his  quite  personal  admiration :

“ The victorious weapons of the Heroic Alexander already had, after the battle at the river Granico (May 334) went off so unfortunate for the Persians, subjected a great part of the land of Asia Minor to his scepter, when he made up his mind to besiege the capital in Caria Halicarnassus to maintain his conquests. For such result he concentrated his infantry, marched with it before the town in which were Memnon and Ephialtes, two of the most valiant and talented generals of Darius. So soon, however, they were received by an unexpected sally from the garrison, which was soon pressed to take the way back to the gates though. Arrived by ship now the galleries, wall-breakers, storm-towers, big and small fight and arrow pieces together with other machines which were necessary for a siege at that time were brought on, advanced on the fortress with these, the broad and deep trench filled up, several towers and a part of the wall overturned, and those besieged pressed hard. Who on their side, however, kept the enemy rather warm by brave defense, several sorties and skirmishes, also constant shooting from their walls, especially though from their high wooden tower erected for this purpose. Finally they decided to risk the utmost, sallied out 2000. man strong, set the storm machines on fire with burning torches, and fell upon the besiegers like thunder. Alexander, who was inflamed by rage and anger, encouraged his already retreating Macedonians by his shouting, his gestures, and brave example, and ordered the old soldiers to make head against the raging enemy. These attacked the Persians with an angry face and shining eyes. By this turmoil and fracas earth trembled. The strokes onto the shields were in such abundance that fire sprang out of them. The rattling of the pieces, the crackling of the fire, the calling of the fighting, and the pitiful crying of the dying made even the bravest shudder. Finally the Halicarnassens gave ground, set tower and magazines on fire, repaired into the castle, and left the town to the conqueror who dismantled it and razed it to the ground. ”

(Diodor. XVIII. 24. Arrian. I. 7. Freinshemi. Supplem. in Curt. II. 9. et 10.)

Source reference only below the Latin version quoted by Thienemann per supplement, “the caption of which describes the contents of the rich sheet more completely than the German one

for  mentioning  the  conquest , too ,

which  is  indicated  in  the  background …

Johann Elias Ridinger, Alexander the Great before Halicarnassus

“ A  stupendous  battle  piece

with innumerable figures. One sees how the armies in both close range and distance march onwards dreadfully fighting. In the background the fortified town ”


Besides the Halicarnassus sheet present here and that of the Passage of the Tigris as conventional battle paintings intended as continuation/closing of the Alexander cycle obviously ordered by Jeremias Wolff (engraver, print publisher – “had a big publishing house, and on many sheets stands just his address, without reference to the engraver” [Nagler] – + art dealer, 1663 [1673?] Augsburg 1724),

“ for  whom  the  best  engravers  of  his  time  worked ”

(Thieme-Becker), but as politically incorrect obviously not published by both this and then subsequently also by Herz, see below, and therefore only known in its drawing from 1723, finally Alexander the Great at the Hyphasis in the Punjab, India, in Autumn 326 BC as the zenith of his empire and a turning point of history by which Ridinger with rather yet unconscious inner renunciation of the heroic pathos of the previous two engraved plates and in rewriting of art history now felt the Alexander campaign’s pulse, only to let follow already in the ’30s by the set Fights of Killing Animals – published then enlarged only 1760! – jointly with B. H. Brockes (1680 Hamburg 1747) a verdict of merciless rigor.

Nagler’s erroneous information (1843) that Herz had commissioned the Alexander cycle was followed also by Schwarz (1910) as he catalogued the Herz state of the present copy as first state (917) while that with the address of Wolff Heirs as “2nd impression, the former address of Herz deleted” (917a). Actually it is vice versa. Recallable first that both Ridinger’s earliest riding school from 1722 and his third hunting set from 1723 (Th. 9-12) were published by Wolff. The latter of which entirely engraved by Herz, of the former 14 of the twenty-three plates. Hence Herz was active in Wolff’s workshop, though in a leading position as he was allowed to sign his works like Wolff’s son-in-law, Probst. Just as then also Schwarz 917a: “Ioh. Daniel Hertz sculpsit”. Not less, but also not more.

In Schwarz 917, however, Herz’ “sculp” is still followed by the publisher’s “exc(udit)”, therefore the plate meanwhile came into his possession. And self-confidently he now also puts a “Senior” in front of his name what should presuppose an already co-working junior (the father was only named Daniel and was cabinet-maker and handicraft-artist). Johann Daniel II, following in his father’s footsteps, was only born 1720 though, just about the time of his father’s employment with Wolff.

Thought works for Wolff besides always inscribed with “Hertz”, that is an additional “t”, which he obviously omitted later. So in present state of Halicarnassus, the Passage of the Tigris, the Daniel in the Den of Lions (Schwarz 1440) from the ’30s.

Another Herz indication with this time negative report for Wolff the incorrect leading “e” in Ri(e)dinger as was in vogue a century later. So in Schwarz 918, but also on Ridinger’s reverse preparatory drawing (but not the engraving) for the Den of Lions whose signature + dating are attributed here contrary to its cataloguing for the Counts Faber-Castell Ridinger sale (1958, lot 2) as not autograph to the Herz workshop.

The order after Wolff additionally results from the Roman numbering with 87 + 94 of the present copies of the Alexander prints which shows them as part of an extensive collection probably established only by Herz. Schwarz mentions such one neither for 917a (would be logical, as Wolff state), but also not for 917 + 918 as each with Herz’ publisher-excudit, what supposedly suggests less a further (in-between) state but a trimming of Gutmann’s copies. For the Den of Lions sheet (1440), however, he notes for the same upper margin place as here “CLXXVIII” (178). The remarkably rising series chronologically documented by the “1732” (not 1737 as with Faber-Castell) within said written “Ridinger” signature on the drawing for the Den of Lions.

Johann Elias Ridinger, The Siege of Halicarnassus by Alexander / signature boar hound

On Ridinger’s part as evidenced by the autograph dating the Alexander cycle is concluded for the present not later than 1723 by the Hyphasis drawing as periodical, with regard to the artist though predominantly intellectual zenith, as the latter also documented by the “Ridinger” hounds in each case close to the signature. In both battles of the early Alexander years, as almost reprehensibly missed by Thienemann, the in each case co-acting heavy boar hound, on the 326 insight scene grey + par force hound, in rest the one, alert the other, where with respect to the visible mutiny the boar hound would not have been misplaced either.

As evidenced by the address of Wolff Heirs of the Halicarnassus sheet Schwarz 917a the plates have only been published after Wolff’s death in 1724 (Nagler’s precautionary remark “According to others he still lived 1730” not repeated by Thieme-Becker [1947]). By the heirs themselves obviously – all with the proviso of current knowledge – Halicarnassus only as the Tigris sheet (918) engraved by Probst already shows Herz’ publisher’s address. The latter – an “art publisher with an eye for quality” (Rolf Biedermann, 1987), “especially his large-size sheets shall be mentioned” (Thieme-Becker, 1923) whose present one is, due to his sculp(sit), also clearly distinguishable from workshop works as frequently “not always possible” (Thieme-Becker) – therefore should have taken over the plates soon after 1724.

Halicarnassus (today Budrun/Bodrum) as place of present scene itself capital of Caria

“ with two harbors, several strong citadels, the strongest of which was Salmakis, splendid temples and the famous mausoleum (for king Mausolus died in 353 BC), one of the Seven Wonders of the World … 334 BC Alexander the Great was indeed able to take the lower town, but not the fortress Salmakis where the Persians under Memnon held out … till (this) … himself set the town on fire and went with the Persian fleet to the Greek islands; his plan to march from there to Macedonia (with all imaginable consequences for the development of history) was prevented by his death … After Alexander the Great (Caria) fell to Syria and later under the authority of the Romans … and in 1336 it was conquered by the Ottomans …

H. was hometown of historical writers Herodot and Dionysios as well as the poets Hekateos and Kallimachos. At the same place a citadel consecrated to St. Peter, Petronion, was founded by the grandmaster of the Order of St John of Jerusalem, Philibert de Raillac, atin the early 15th century … ”

(Meyers Conversations-Lexikon, 4th ed., VIII, 17, IX, 509 + I, 317).

In such a manner military, local, and culture-historically of high rank, the youthful Ridinger already documents by the scene of just this environment his full scent for the extraordinary situation, culminating only little later in the said Hyphasis drawing of 1723. By its size, however,


is  the  most  monumental  Ridinger

of  the  graphic  œuvre

of  most  extreme  rarity

as by the way generally documented for the plates of the early years still engraved by others. Here then with provenance Counts Faber-Castell!

“ It’s  breathtaking  again  and  again  what  offers  you  can  make ”

so formerly an international publisher on occasion of another Ridinger offer here.

Offer no. 14,869 / price on application

“ Thank you so much for The Fashion Etchings by Hollar. I am very nicely surprised and very very impressed … The presentation is very professional and everything look very good … and if you have some more interesting etchings by Hollar … please let me know ”

(Mrs. P. P., July 8, 2004)


The  Cream  of  the  Day