At the Beginning of a Decades-long Chain

The 16(?)-Year-Old Ridinger’s

Fully Valid Drawing of a Mule

Ridinger, Johann Elias (Ulm 1698 – Augsburg 1767). Mule from Front. With long bells & feed bag, packed evenly on both sides with covered baggage. Red chalk. Inscribed: 1718(4?). 8 × 5⅞ in (203 × 148 mm).

Johann Elias Ridinger, Mule from Front (1714/8)

On buff laid paper under acid-free passepartout with 23.5-carat gilt stamped artist’s name and dates. – Of perfect preservation irrespective of a small unfounded backing between the forelegs.

Work documenting the master’s from his youth on long breath

from 1718 the latest, rather supposedly from already 1714 as the then 16-years old though. For the 8 of the date, smaller than the other figures, is oblique and open above and in such a manner to be related to the representation of half eight values. And therewith completely differing from the normal 8 of a pencil sketch to Th. 503, Great Mule Loaded, laterally from behind, instructively packed to the left, inscribed with “Ridinger/del./1718” documented here. By hook or crook it belongs to the


Johann Elias Ridinger, Mule from Front (detail of the date)

of the drawn œuvre .

For the drawing of a stag of 10 points on a hill opposite to a higher hill grown with two firs and full sun above right in black chalk and inscribed “Johan Elias, 7 (years)” discovered by Timm Luckhardt does not yet go beyond a child’s work irrespective of two remarkably seen birds of prey in the sky.

The latter quite in contrast to the 7-years old Gerard Ter Borch II (1617-1681) referred to here deliberately by the pen and ink drawing of a Mounted Rider, seen from behind, presented in the master’s 1974 Hague exhibition catalog (no. 73, pp. 212 f. with ills.). However, with the – relativizing Ridinger’s child writing – remark that of no single artist of the 17th century such an early sample of his artistic vein has become known.

So here it is not about a comparison of age, rather about the comparison of the theme of an animal seen exactly from behind there, from front here by a generally young artist. Raised by the fact that the earliest known oil by the about 17-years old Ter Borch takes up just that child work of a mounted rider seen from behind (no. 1 of the catalog). What prompted the consideration here if this front/back view has to be regarded as simple and therefore related to the age. On this quite contrarily in the catalog:

“ It is odd to see already that early

a figure represented from behind .”

For Ter Borch it became, “as Gudlaugsson says, the Leitmotif of his later years”.

Johann Elias Ridinger, Servitude taken up for Love of SplendorJohann Elias Ridinger, Sumpter Horse

Just as then through the decades also Ridinger turned his attention again and again to the professionally packed mule and horse, why, even the stag (Fable XVIII, Th. 782). The set of the Fables was published in 16 sheet in 1744, the drawings to the exceedingly rare, however available here, additional four sheets have to be dated correspondingly later and were transferred into copper only after 1767 by Martin Elias.

We encounter the whole plenty of loaded animals in parts 6 & 7 of the 126-sheet set Design of Several Animals published only 1754/55 – pts. 1-5 already 1738/40 – and here especially among the mules and donkeys from 1754, Th. 503 ff., most available here in splendid copies of the first edition, then 1755 in the Sumpter Horse (Th. 501).

However , in analogy to the present drawn Mule from Front

Johann Elias Ridinger, Mule from Behind

solely the engraved Mule from Behind , Th. 509 .

For the Mule in Full Dress from Front (Th. 507) is just a lateral view as the Great Mule Loaded (Th. 503) and Mule with Its Leader (Th. 506) and also A Kind of Great Mule with the little dog on top (Th. 504) is seen laterally, the Mule in Full Dress, from the Side (Th. 508) anyway.

Johann Elias Ridinger, Mule in Full Dress from FrontJohann Elias Ridinger, A Kind of Great MuleJohann Elias Ridinger, Great Mule Loaded

The same holds true for Hinny, Loaded Mule (Th. 983, “J. E. Ridinger ad viv. del. fec. et exc. Aug. Vind.”) after a drawing from 1752 and related to Th. 507 and, to be attributed to Martin Elias with no drawing documented here, Ditto Loaded Mule (Th. 984) from the Colored Animal Kingdom.

Present drawing created 40 years before

therefore was spiritus rector

without having been reproduced itself !

Filling the given sheet size on three sides completely, on the right up to 15 mm, the subject size is generally larger than the later engravings with their accessories & caption, yet already defined about their size. Th. portfolio IV, p (p. 276) on his part records two “Mules loaded” remaining not engraved, however executed in “wash and brown ink” like all 118 sheet for the set of the Design of Several Animals known to him. A brush drawing from 1724 of a horse to the left heavily loaded with household effects and mounted by a woman with baby related to this context was with count Radulf zu Castell-Rüdenhausen.

His début in serious drawings Ridinger had made at the age of 12 years at the latest . So per collective number 6 – “10 sheet. Different Horses. Earliest (inscribed sanguine) works (in quarto) from 1710 till 1717” – of the Fine Collection of Drawings and Engravings of Joh. El. Ridinger from the Property of a well-known Collector at Wawra in Vienna 1890. 1717 earliest date, too, in the 305-sheet collection of “Studies, Contours and executed Drawings” as item 318 of the Ridinger-Appendix of the 1869 Weigel Catalog of his left Drawings.

There per 377 then also A Loaded Mule coming up a Slope in white heightened black chalk on bluish paper and per 378 from 1718 A Sheet with Two Loaded Mules in slight pencil outline. Both in small quarto and not inscribed. Without signature + date then also A Saddled Mule in black chalk and large quarto as pos. 9 at Wawra as before. Per Weigel 665 then finally a Going Loaded Mule, the Driver behind it of 1752, again in ink and bistre.

An Animal Jaw-Bone of 1718 figured as the earliest date among the 109-sheet Faber-Castell Codex of drawings of the master (95) and his sons, separated (?) after 1958. Corresponding and documenting a long breath again with a present Upper Jaw-Bone of an Old Horse worked 45 years later.

The 1714/18 mule here then an in its documentory value not at all to be overestimated


Enjoying in its youthful freshness at the same time the eyes . In the chest now and then , at shadowy wall permanently . By hook or crook a preciousness for the collection .

Offer no. 15,527 | price on application

“ … I was digging and I found you. I needed to tell you that your collection for whatever reason has brought tears to my eyes. Thank you … I’m not a collector, or I haven’t known myself to be … I was going to sell this (sheet), but I just may have discovered that I’m to keep this for whatever reason. Have you made a collector out of me … For all your devotion, hardwork … I thank you ”

(Mrs. D. H., June 17, 2002)


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