Patroness of Miners + Metallurgical People and
Tunnel Constructors ,
Gunners and therewith Mariners ,
Alchemists & Apothecaries as well as Surgeons
up to the hopelessly ill sick ,
but also Invoked for the Protection against Lightning Stroke

Ridinger, Johann Elias (Ulm 1698 – Augsburg 1767). St. Barbara. Half-length portrait sitting frontally to the left of the richly dressed Saint Barbara in the glory with crown + pearls, holding the chalice in the raised right above which the host floats in a glory. The left resting on the cross-grip of a sword as symbol of her dying. Mezzotint. Inscribed: Ioh. Elias Ridinger excud. Aug. Vind., otherwise, in large shell cartouche in the lower margin, as above. 22¼ × 16¼ in (56.6 × 41.2 cm).


Counts Faber-Castell

their Ridinger sale 1958
with its lot no. 173
on the underlay carton

Radulf Count of Castell-Rüdenhausen


Schwarz 1538 with illustration; Counts Faber-Castell (1958) 173.

Version not known to Thienemann (1856) + Stillfried (1876) and with exception of Baron Gutmann (Schwarz, 1910) here traceable with one further copy here only. – Variant to Th. 1287 with the sword instead of the palm leaf there. – Stillfried + Schwarz 1418 record without mentioning the crown here an otherwise obviously almost identical, also equal-sized version, but without any inscription (this also only and as already “extremely rare” at Coppenrath in 1889 + at Counts Faber-Castell in 1958, too; pre-state of 1538 here?), in which Stillfried possibly sees a pendent to the 1419

St. Catherine as the sacral twin sister

(see its version 1554 here per 28,401).

The wonderfully rich ,

Johann Elias Ridinger, St. Barbara

wonderfully great plate

with WANGEN watermark as standing for contemporary impressions and of printing adequate fine condition with margins of 1.8-2 on three sides, below 2.8 cm. On the back only quite partially weakly stained, perceptible on the front in isolated spots only.

And in such a manner of quite extraordinary rarity not only on the market as quoted above, but in general, too. Already in 1675 the expert von Sandrart numbered “clean prints” of the velvety mezzotint manner at only c. “50 or 60” (!). “Soon after (the picture) grinds off for it not goes deeply into the copper.” Correspondingly Thienemann in 1856 :

“ The mezzotints are almost not to be acquired on the market anymore …
and the by far largest part (of them) … (I have) only found (in the printroom) at Dresden. ”

Not even there then the one here

which subsequently remained unknown to Count Stillfried 20 years later, too!

The also pictorially timelessly marvelous patronage plate

of the “Stranger” (probably about 290 till 306) from, so the legend, Nikomedia in Asia Minor, first locked up by her father in a tower because of her beauty, then beheaded by him for her Christianity. December 4th is dedicated to her churchly commemoration. But throughout the year she is the patroness of the warriors, especially the artillerists, is invoked for protection against storms whose lightnings once had burnt the father after his criminal act, and by all those threatened by an even impenitent death, but

especially of miners in the adit and tunnel constructors .

And “(o)n French men-of-war the powder cabinet charged to her protection was called Sainte-Barbe” (Meyers Konversations-Lexikon, 4th ed. II, 357). As consequences resulted from powder in general:

“ From the alchemists as ‚powder maker’ it is not far to the apothecaries, whose stores often bear the name St. Barbara, especially in the mining districts. At a special feature the ‚Privileged Court Pharmacy in Sigmaringen’ (South Germany) points to … In this house pharmaceutics, surgical treatment, surgery, and surgical apprenticeship had been practiced.

On occasion of a reconstruction … a baroque ceiling fresco has been laid open showing St. Barbara … Supported by art historians and theologians the building owner found out that

St. Barbara must have been patroness of the surgeons, too .

For in the said room with the ceiling fresco obviously the sick, trembling for their life, laid with the look at the ceiling. Awaiting a medical action they could find solace in the

auxiliary saint with the chalice with the host

in her hand ”

(Nemitz-Thierse, St. Barbara, 2nd ed., Essen 1996, p. 199).

The latter with the Ridinger here in quite strong dominance as also with the elder Augsburg Hans Holbein in the left side-wing of his famous St. Sebastian altar or with the two other great South Germans Lucas Cranach and Hans Baldung Grien (N.-Th., color ills. pp. 350 f., 367 + 366), while frequently it had been left at the simple chalice.

“ The representation with chalice goes back on the 15th century cult of saints. On grounds of her legendary prayer for all invoking her in the hour of death she has been worshipped as patroness of the hopelessly ill sick. One made intercession and asked for the viaticum. In that St. Barbara is typified as well with the chalice alone as with the host, too, as striking mark of the death patronage. The oldest representation with chalice appears … 1435 (in Germany) … ”

(op. cit., pp. 226 f.).

Against that Ridinger renounces on the tower, which also figures rather marginally with Holbein and with Cranach it is a part of a compact castle arrangement. The coiffure both with Holbein and Ridinger curled-short against long, even waved hair as also with Cranach and especially Baldung. Apart from that with the sword

– appears only towards the end of the 15th century …
(and) reaches still to the 18th

instead of the frequent palm leaf as also used in Ridinger’s version Thienemann 1287. Holbein, Cranach and Baldung neither with the one nor the other. Seldom however recourses to gun(barrel), of almost unique character peacock’s or ostrich’s feather, otherwise not very rare the Holy Scriptures as book attribute.

Her worship itself, roughly screened under inclusion of missionary work, in the last analysis worldwide. But center is, originating in the Middle East from demonstrably 5th century, the Old World in its whole ramification owing to crusades, trade + Hansa. In other words, up to Ireland’s western coast, to Saint Petersburg, Kiev, Erivan, Alexandria, Tunis, Spain’s western coast + north (6th cent.).

“ Great and very early adoration has been granted to the saint especially also in Poland, Pomerania and West Prussia (here together with St. Catharine, patroness of Danzig) and districts of formerly German-Bohemian and Silesian tradition …

Especially Silesia stands for ‘Barbara country’”

in the course of which again Breslau forms the top. Finally not to be overlooked, especially also for East Prussia, the part of the German Order under again especially Grand Master (1331-1335) Duke Luther von Brunswick (since 1280 brother of the order, since 1314 highest Commander at Christburg), who at the same time came out with religious writings, among them “a rhymed arrangement of the legend of St. Barbara” (ADB III, 275 f., otherwise op. cit., pp. 107 + 200).

Beyond all areas popular par excellence the saint has been established

“ Since the early late Middle Ages as patroness of mining and the metallurgical people, too. The legendary connection to the rock

– ‘The rock opened before her’ –

(removing her from her tormentors) could have contributed to that. This aspect,

her ‘special connection to mountains’,

and her legendary address as

‘Virgin of the Rock’

obviously have not been given proper attention by mining literature yet.

It seems that the worship of miners first spread out in the Saxon-Silesian and Bohemian areas. Originals lay in the districts of the Alps, in western Germany and Lorraine in connection with the mining patron Daniel. There is an early document, Barbara with Daniel, of about 1500 on three glass windows in the church at Villanders in South Tyrol ”

(op. cit., p. 191).

And last, but not least, Barbara belongs to that „exclusive company of divine intervenients – or, stated Protestantly, divine representatives – ” which quite topically though “already since some time (the) historians (have) rediscovered … (and) scientifically reanimated“ (Peter Burschel reviewing Brad Stephan Gregory’s Salvation at Stake — Christian Martyrdom in Early Modern Europe in Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung of Aug. 2, 2000).

Offer no. 14,882 | EUR 985. | export price EUR 936. (c. US$ 1132.) + shipping

“ Many thanks for your message. Thank you very much for sending the (Anthonie) Waterloo … I am grateful to you for the opportunity to buy the etching. It was interesting to learn about its provenance … The Waterloo etching arrived safely today, beautifully wrapped. Thank you very much indeed ”

(Mr. M. L., April 24 and 29 resp. and May 6, 2003)


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