The Baroque Fullness of the Christmas Story



with the spectacular view on the fulfillment of Good Friday

Ridinger, Johann Elias (Ulm 1698 – Augsburg 1767). The Adoration of the Shepherds (St. Luke 2, 1-20). In the front on the right on a straw box the child held by Mary at his arm, behind her the announcing angel Gabriel and, to the middle, Joseph. On the left the group of the three shepherds, one holding a sheep. Above the mortals in and beyond the clouds many putti, carrying in anticipation the crown of thorns , nails , spear and cross

as spectacular view on the fulfillment of Good Friday

but still being held back by the archangel in view of the szenery at the crib. In the middle on the left another group of approaching shepherds. On the right outline of the stable. Mezzotint by surely Johann Jacob Ridinger (1736 Augsburg 1784) supposedly after Johann Georg Bergmüller (Ulm 1688 – Augsburg 1762). Inscribed in italics lower left: Joh. Elias Ridinger excud. A.V. 24⅞ × 17½ in (63.2 × 44.5 cm).

Schwarz (1910) 1486 (but not acquired along with the Horn collection in 1903, see below); Wend (1975), Ergänzungen zu den Œuvreverzeichnissen der Druckgrafik, 1,1, 147 with reference to Schwarz.

Not in Weigel, Art Stock Catalog, division I-XXVIII (1838/57; more than 1000 R. sheets of the etched/engraved work) , Thienemann (and therewith not in the Dresden Printroom, too; 1856) + Count Stillfried (1876) , Silesian Ridinger Collection at Boerner (1885; “of greatest richness … many rarities”, among them per 2036 a Shepherds Adoration unknown to literature) , Coppenrath Collection (1889/90) , R. collection at Wawra (1890; besides 234 drawings 600 prints) , Reich auf Biehla Collection (1894; “Of all [R. collections on the market] since long time there is none standing comparison even approximately with the present one in respect of completeness and quality … especially the rarities and undescribed sheets present in great number”; 1266 sheet plus 470 duplicates + 20 drawings) , market sweeper Gg. Hamminger (1895) , R. catalogue Helbing (1900; 1554 nos.) , Horn Collection (1903; “The engravings and mezzotints described by Thienemann and Stillfried were present almost completely with few exceptions. Besides the collection counted a series of sheets undescribed hitherto: in addition to 4 and 6 engravings resp. a large number of mezzotints”) , R. list Rosenthal (1940; 444 nos.), collection of the counts of Faber-Castell (1958; 106 drawings + 1160 prints).


Johann Elias Ridinger, The Adoration of the Shepherds

intricate composition

as a pendant to Ridinger’s Annunciation of the Blessed Virgin Mary Schwarz 1516 definitely ascertained for Bergmüller (“Joh. Georg Bergmiler pinxit”) and surely forming a uniform Ridinger-Bergmüller chain of events with furthermore an Adoration of the Kings (1406) and the Flight into Egypt (1482). All in the practically same size and

presenting themselves as specially worked pictures for the wall ,

therefore without so-called thesis banner below – in the 18th century “mostly as blank banner with integrated center cartouche” (Teuscher in Die Künstlerfamilie Rugendas 1666-1858, p. 295) – for individual inscription on special occasions as the rule for the Saints sheets as marks of their designation as art for daily use.

Bergmüller (Türkheim 1688 – Augsburg 1762) is known to the Ridinger collector especially by his portrait of Ridinger with Diana worked in mezzotint by Johann Jacob Haid (Th. XX, 2). Generally an estimated portrait painter he also worked – as episcopal cabinet painter – history pictures and frescos of mostly spiritual content. Among the latter Thieme-Becker mention four ceiling frescos on the life of Our Lady in the Pollheim chapel of the cathedral at Augsburg and a cyclus in 17 parts on the Passion in the Kreuzkirche.

“ As fresco-painter Bergmüller throws the bridge from the romanicism of the 17th century to the classicism of the late 18th century. By him

Augsburg became a leading center of arts

in the southern area … until the early twenties mostly engaged as painter (high altar) … In his mature work voluminous plastic figures are acting … ”

(Allgemeines Künstler-Lexikon IX [1994], 417).

Became known only by the collecting activity of Baron Gutmann (catalogue Schwarz) the group of more than 120 mezzotints with religious contents reveals

the almost unknown Ridinger of faith

(since 1757 assessor at the matrimonial court of the Augsburg confession). First opening up these as an important aspect of the work of Ridinger was – according to our present knowledge – Th. Reich auf Biehla, whose rich Ridinger collection contained at its sale in 1894 already 31 pictures of saints, qualified without exemption as

“very rare” + “extremely rare” .

Which rareness is already technically conditioned by the tinted plate allowing, so the expert von Sandrart 1675, just about “50 or 60 clean prints. Afterwards (the picture) soon grinds off”. Correspondingly then also Thienemann (1856; pp. VIII + 270) :

“ The mezzotints are almost not to be acquired in the trade 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 not only to himself, but also to Count Stillfried and all the others. Available now here moreover

in greatest perfection

as widely so unobtainable for even just most ambitious collectors. Raised enormously as

an item next to impossible !

With watermarks WANGEN + (large) crown with appendix FAvI (ligated) as known for excellent early Ridinger states and mounted at five points on heavy handmade paper with typographic two-liner watermark. – In the lower margin still plate dirt. – Trimmed at both the upper corners on the platemark, otherwise with fine margins of up to 2 mm. – With only quite minimal rubbing in the clouds above Joseph and a tiny pin-like hole visible only against the light, otherwise of almost untouched freshness and in such a way not only a Ridinger unbeknownst to most, but also and at all

a Ridinger which to miss would leave you poor .

Offer no. 15,260 | price on application

“ Thank you for your lovely message which I will read at leisure over the Christmas holidays. I am retiring from the … after 32 years of service. I have been so fortunate to work with a fabulous collection, wonderful colleagues and such knowledgeable antiquarian booksellers like you who have made my job challenging, simulating … and such fun … Please accept my best wishes for a merry Christmas and a happy and healthy 2018! Warm regards ”

(Mrs. K. K., December 22, 2017)


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