Purified Customs Officer

Ridinger, Johann Elias (Ulm 1698 – Augsburg 1767). S. Matthew. The former customs officer now as evangelist with halo in plate-filling figure in landscape scenery, turned to the right and pointing there, but looking to the left, the left resting on closed folio, below of which a genius suggestively keeps ready pen + inkstand. Mezzotint. Inscribed: Ioh . Elias Ridinger sculps. et excud . Aug. Vind ., otherwise in German as above. 20⅛ × 14¾ in (51.2 × 37.4 cm).


Counts Faber-Castell

their Ridinger sale 1958
with its lot no. 104
on the underlay carton

Radulf Count of Castell-Rüdenhausen


Cf. Thienemann + Schwarz 1261; Rosenthal, Ridinger list 126 (1940), no. 415.

Not in Weigel, Art Stock Catalog I-XXVIII (1838/57) , Silesian Ridinger collection at Boerner XXXIX (1885) , Coppenrath Collection (1889 f.) , Reich auf Biehla (1894) , Gg. Hamminger (1895) , Helbing XXXIV (Arbeiten von J. E. und M. E. Ridinger; 1900).

Johann Elias Ridinger, St. Matthew

The initial sheet of the completely extremely rare 4-sheet set of the evangelists of which already Faber-Castell had but 3 sheets, and Rosenthal + count Radulf only 2 sheets (his S. John here available).

The imposing sheet in contrast-rich chiaroscuro with figurative-typographical watermark and secondary mark. Owing to a second copy here their comparison proves a general plenty of differences in the details up to the arrangement of the saint. However, same size and unchanged caption speak for only one, but pictorially completely retouched plate. Of interest in this connection not least the signature line. For in both versions the space of the periods of the abbreviations after Ioh., excud. + Vind. – see above – is the same though not typical for Ridinger.

Less absolutely the question of the priority. For now here the one, now there the other is worked out more richly and carefully. Exemplarily that with the second copy here the total composition is more left-orientated. At the same size of the saint the distance between the left platemark/subject margin and the heel of the right shoe measures 9.2 cm there, but 9.7 cm with the Faber-Castell copy here. Correspondingly the two cypresses right of the latter are completely moved to the edge, yet less elegant in their appearance, too. As also as well the vestment of the saint as the wrap of the genius are drawn far less differently. On the other hand foliage + bark of the trees left were predominantly dealt with greater attention here. But in the genius’s tray in its turn only one inkstand here compared with two there. However, the three quills in each case appear differently carefully within themselves. But finally also the formation of the clouds on the sheet there of quite another quality, yet even the laces of the sandals richer. So the version here is to be declared the second state of necessity.

Without the possibility to compare the literature copies above without any reference to a state. As just the split between technical possibility, see below, and contemporary market for Ridinger mezzotints unchanged is good for surprises by chance. So e.g. per 1264a Schwarz mentions for the S. John sheet of this set an impression from the partly retouched plate distinguishably inter alia “by the more elliptic halo”. In such a way then

the market scarcity of the Ridinger time as the collector’s pleasure gain .

With slightly stained margins 5-12 mm wide round about (above frayed out, the right lower corner torn off up to the platemark, but replaced). On the back stained laterally and on the right with provident running through vertical narrow backing in respect of minimal tiny folds in the lower region. A barely perceptible trifling box pleat also horizontally from front left up to the center. Otherwise isolated retouched spot-like scrape offs. The platemark broken on 8 cm upper right backed acid-freely just as a small margin tear reaching a little into the subject and, providently, a small trace of squeezing below the evangelist.

The rarity of the mezzotints after all as generally preprogrammed for according to expert Sandrart (1675) the technically conditioned extremely fast wearing off mezzotint plate permits 50-60 good impressions only.

Correspondingly already in 1856 Thienemann, pages VIII & 270 :

“ 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 … ”

Offer no. 14,958 | EUR 390. | export price EUR 371. (c. US$ 448.) + shipping

“ Thank you Mr. Niemeyer – I will take it! … It should look very nice in my new office. Best regards ”

(Mr. J. R. L., January 6, 2006)


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