“ The Programmatic Mezzotint ”
Ridinger — Bergmüller, Johann Georg (Türkheim, Swabia, 1688 – Augsburg 1762). IOH. ELIAS RIDINGER / Pictor et Scalptor (sic!) Augustanus / solertissimus Naturae Indag(ator) / ejusque in Animalium praeser(tim) / Delineatione Æmulator / felicissimus / natus Vlmae Suevorum / d. XVI. Febr. A.S. MDCXCVIII / Ars Artifici(s) Amic(us). Half-length portrait, sitting, with brushes + palette as medallion in easel mirror held by Diana sitting to the right, seeing before the artistic eye a royal stag already on the canvas as it lies together with a boar as Diana’s bag below a pedestal. Sitting on the latter and intimately turned to the master a hooded falcon together with lateral hawked heron as well as shot wild goose. And center below a Ridinger hound for sure. The whole set before woody background. Mezzotint by Johann Jacob Haid (Kleineislingen 1704 – Augsburg 1767). Inscribed: I. G. Bergmüller invent. / I. Iac. Haid ad vivum pinx. fecit et excud. A. V., otherwise as above. 15⅝ × 10½ in (39.7 × 26.7 cm).
Thienemann XX, 2; Schwarz, portraits, 3 + ills.; Le Blanc 94; Silesian Ridinger collection at Boerner XXXIX, 2057 ( “Esteemed fine sheet … Rare”, 1885 ! ); Reich auf Biehla 2 (1894); Helbing XXXIV (1900), 2; Schoeller Collection 523 ( “Very fine mezzotint … Rare”, 1921); Schwerdt III (1928), 133; Ridinger exhibition catalogs: Augsburg (1967) 81 + ills. 1 as well as 82; Kielce (1997) 1 + frontispiece; Darmstadt (1999) I.2 + ills. – Niemeyer, (The Vanitas Symbolism with Joh. El. R.) in L’Art Macabre 2 (2001), 94 ff.
Not in the Coppenrath Collection (1889/90) + at Rosenthal (1940).
The rich beautiful portrait
by the former pupil Haid
who stayed on with Ridinger as journeyman since 1726 for a couple of years and created the painted version in 1744 (canvas, 26 × 18⅞ in [66 × 48 cm], Art Collections Augsburg, inv. no. 8610) which in turn then served Bergmüller together with the head of a hound from a drawing by Ridinger from 1728 as model that then Haid again transferred into the copper,
which double authorship of Haid
additionally to his long-standing nearness to the master
secures the sheet its special original rank .
The head of the stag sketched here in the easel mirror in outline only as for the time being spiritual vision only is fully executed in the oil. Bergmüller’s in this regard backward directed execution surely not of accidental nature, rather, also in conformity to the artist’s expression, elucidating the process of creation.
“ It is one of numerous mezzotint portraits of Augsburg artists (Haid as)
in this field leading master of the germanophone art sphere
designed together with Johann Georg Bergmüller. The latter created the framing composition in each case ”
(Anke Charlotte Held, Georg Philipp Rugendas … Gemälde und [selected] Zeichnungen, 1996, pp. 28 & 34).
In this connection the equally designed portrait of the famous guild colleague Georg Philipp Rugendas I likewise worked in mezzotint by Haid after Bergmüller should be recalled, too. And of the joint obituary in the Augsburg press of December 29, 1767, for Ridinger + Haid (“Some time ago our city and the whole learned Germany
has lost 2 famous artists;
Mr. Joh. Ridinger … and Mister Joh. Jac. Haid … ”
With the latter’s Ridinger picture going markedly beyond its caption which shall be repeated from Thienemann’s translation as follows:
“ J. E. Ridinger … the most fervent naturalist and luckiest imitator especially in depiction of animals … The art the artist’s friend. ”
“ The combination of portrait medallion and epigraph plate (imparts) to the representation the character of a memorial, the bagged game in the foreground has one thinking of hunting still lives and so reminds of the transitoriness of everything mortal ”
(Stefan Morét in Catalogue Darmstadt).
What Morét deduces from the animal accessories is extended directly to Ridinger by later further development of this portrait. For the variant created by Sebastian Walch from the retouched plate, so Stillfried and Schwarz (Th., appendix 3, p. 1 f. + Schwarz I, XX, 4), drops with simultaneous face aging Diana and the scenic accessories outside of the medallion and even sets the mirror, already resting on a pedestal, into the brickwork, thereby bestowing the portrait itself with sepulchral character.
And still in Ridinger’s lifetime from this the reduced anonymous half-length portrait (Th.-St. p. 2; cat. Darmstadt I.1 + ills.) emerged, by this time deprived of everything except for the pedestal: hence also palette and easel within the medallion/mirror. Instead of the brickwork it is set into a heavy curtain with tassel. This reducing development done by several hands from richest picture contents to the bare core of just only portrait, curtain and pedestal proves in a rare singular manner the trains of thought expressed on the aspect of curtain/window on occasion of the self-portrait Th. XXI, 3. Just as these accessories from sepulchre and memorial art lead directly to the sons’ posthumous title sheets for the Wondrous (Th. 242; Schwarz I, plate XII) and the Colored Animal Kingdom (Th. 974; Schwarz I, plate XXX) as “graphic memorials for the father” (Morét).
By which the Haid-Bergmüller picture of Ridinger is not yet sounded .
Even palette + brushes in their present nice harmlessness lead to the deeper core of the master’s understanding of himself.
Beforehand to the programmatic own ex-libris (Schwarz 1569 + vol. I, frontispiece) with the epitaph (!) “Nulla dies sine linea – No day without brush stroke” expressing his absolute, watered-down by the economic constraints of everyday life though, necessaries of life, a confession that is also reflected in the dismissed copper work “Hippocrene” published here 1998 for the first time.
Then for the renewed meeting with palette, brushes, and the large stone plate appearing again and again in the conventional work in the horrid-great final, the “Rule of Death” (Th.-St. 1427; ills. Niemeyer, op. cit., p. 105) as by the “del(ineavit).” expressly confirmed own work)!
The painter’s equipment from now on amongst the junk! The step beyond the “Self-portrait with Death” in Berlin (cat. Darmstadt I.5 + [color] illustrations)! As a unison with Hogarth who completed his graphic work with the sheet of the Dying Time (Tail Piece, or The Bathos) of April 1764, thus six months before his death.
Just as the heavy curtain used participatingly in the late “Self-portrait in the Studio” as since the Middle Ages a representative of the secret and mystery is provable up to the early period, to the title sheet to the riding school of 1722, so here the painting utensils. Both at first sight repoussoirs of most natural kind. But with what a depth at a closer look!
Marvelous impression of this just optically already that great sheet
with margins laterally 2 , top + below 2.5 cm wide
as for the velvety mezzotint allowing by the way only smallest satisfying editions (Sandrart 1675: “50 or 60 … clean impressions”) expressly worth mentioning. – From the front only partially lightly noticeable weak lateral pleat on the level of the lower pedestal. The white margin only touched by a little smudging.
Offer no. 15,185 / EUR 1200. / export price EUR 1140. (c. US$ 1378.) + shipping
“ Pursuant to your last kind e-mail, I am placing my personal check in the amount of US$ … in the mail today. When it arrive, please send the print … It has been a pleasure dealing with you ”
(Mr. + Mrs. R. G. S., October 30, 2002)