Earliest State of the First Edition
of Ridinger’s 1748 Great Indian Rhinoceros
“Maid Clara”
as a Milestone of Zoological Knowledge

— Oudry’s Famous 306 × 453 cm Schwerin Oil followed but One Year later —

“drawn from life”

Johann Elias Ridinger, Rhinoceros

by which “he countered the one by Dürer as the one hitherto considered unvariedly authoritative by a … portraiture of greater natural truth adequate to the scientific standards of his time” (Stefan Morét) .

Ridinger, Johann Elias (Ulm 1698 – Augsburg 1767). Asiatic Rhinoceros. Before reed and tree scenery leaping to the right. Colored etching with engraving. Inscribed: RHINOCEROS. / Nasehorn. / Rhinocerot. / Q(uadrupedum). D(ispositio). s. (quoted by Th. as “§.”) XI. / Familia III. Dreyhufig. / Joh. El. Ridinger ad vivum del. (bold type not in the original) fec. et exc. Aug. Vind. 12⅛ × 8¼ in (30.8 × 20.8 cm).

Thienemann (deviations in type see below) & Schwarz (not quoting the inscription) 1027; J. H. Niemeyer, Joh. El. R. im Reiche der kolor. Thiere / Entstehung und Vollendung einer Folge, pp. 25 f. as issue 22 of schriften der ridinger handlung niemeyer.


from the unnumbered Colored Animal Kingdom created since 1754 and concluded finally posthumously not before 1773 (“Complete copies are next to untraceable”, so Weigel, Art Cat., sect. XXVIII, Ridinger Appendix 63a as merely 120-sheet torso, 1857 ! , but also just individual plates quite rarely on the market only, at niemeyer’s presently nevertheless the one as the others). – Remaining uncolored contrary to the prospectus, a second edition from the plates now shortened even under loss of animals and with modified titling and the Ridinger inscription removed, yet now numbered, was published by Engelbrecht/Herzberg in Augsburg 1824/25.

EARLIEST STATE of the FIRST EDITION unbeknownst to Thienemann before the removal not only of the “Q. D. S. XI.” as reference to the standard work Quadrupedum dispositio brevisque Historia Naturalis quoted already by Th., but also still with the Familia & Dreyhufig spelled out in full whereas quoted by Th. as “Fam. III. Dreyhufige”. As for instance also Th. 1030 abbreviated in such a manner after the m, yet explicitly not Th. 1029, correct quotation can be presumed. Due to the removal of the Q. D. S. XI. in the final state of the first edition, the line of Th. 1027, moved slightly upwards within the caption, reads Familia III. Dreÿhufige.

With regard to the Q. D. S. XI. references Thienemann incidentally notes in the lead to the Animal Kingdom (p. 200) that they were “still in some Plates” of which he traced only seven. By means of the copy of the Pfeiffer/Weinberg collections here seven and eight resp. could be added as in such a manner earliest states at once!

Pearls thus for collectors, its now subtle, now drastic textual differences turn out upon investigation as downright exciting for development, progress, and finality of the work’s original edition as savored by the old school connoisseur, have him simmer on the hunt for such, as if it were for the return of the Dresden antler of 66 points.

With Klein (“Plinius Gedanensium”, Königsberg 1685 – Danzig 1759; town clerk in Danzig, co-founder and later director of the Danzig Society of Naturalists, member of the Royal Society, London, and honorary member of the Russian Academy of Sciences in Saint Petersburg; ADB XVI, 92 ff.), famous for his collections, Ridinger was in close communication and supported in his Colored Animal Kingdom undertaking in many ways, too. Following Klein’s classification according to kind and number of extremities – superceded by Linné’s anatomical classification – the early states of some plates of the set still show references to his Quadrupedum dispositio brevisque Historia Naturalis of 1751, as known to Thienemann for some plates and documented here for several more by a complete copy available here. Ridinger himself emphasizes by the preface in his words of thanks “in particular the tremendously beautiful collection of P(rofessor). Klein of the Ludolph estate, which comprises nothing but original items.”

On C & I Honig paper without watermark as that sturdy Dutch quality paper Ridinger used in line with his preamble to the Principal Colors of Horses

“on account of the fine illumination” for the colored works

“as for this purpose it is the most decent and best”. – Margins on three sides 2.2-3.5 cm, below 3.7 cm wide. – Not worth mentioning a touch of even slight browning, if one wants to notice indeed.

Represented the rare Indian one-horned rhinoceros “Maid Clara”

(Rhinoceros indicus Cuv. / R. unicornis L.), which Douwe Mout van der Me(e)r, master of the Knappenhof of the East India Company, had brought from India to Holland in 1741 at the age of three and shown in Europe until her death in 1758 (so Morét, cf. above; however, Rieke-Müller “About 1741/48”; 1756 Cornelis van Noorde still sketched her at the Haarlem kermess, see below per Sliggers). Where

“ as a skilful showman he had printed news sheets and engravings with descriptions (‘about 1745 he probably was the first who had his name been mentioned on engravings of the rhinoceros ‘Maid Clara’ by which he deliberately stepped out of anonymity’, Rieke-Müller) … Interestingly enough that for the greater part of these graphic depictions of the rhinoceros worked in the 1740s one orientated oneself by Dürer’s famous woodcut of a rhinoceros of 1515. This not surprising inasmuch as that Dürer’s depiction had been copied again and again in the zoological works right into the 18th century and therefore had had a lasting effect on the idea of the animal’s appearance ” (Morét).

Worked from the black chalk drawing in reverse Weigel (1869) 54, with regard to the various positions specified as “6”. Items 50-55 there (Th. IX, 11) should correspond with said six positions. Belonging to the rhinoceros set furthermore the three drawings Weigel 707/09, one of which dated 1754, and both the two pencil outline sketches Th. XII, 7 of which one likely regards the drawing in the Berlin print room (Bock, 1921, 8437; catalog Darmstadt III.12 with ill.).

Following its scientific position, Ridinger’s rhinoceros is in all its manifestations for both the subject and artistically a collectible of degree. So in London 1991 the Ratjen Foundation Vaduz vaulted one of the Clara preparatory drawings specified as “6” from estimated 2-3000 £ to 20000 £. In 2007 it was ultimately acquired by the National Gallery Washington. And only recently at a German auction sale a copy of the b&w print Th. 295 was lifted, doubling the estimate, to a final price of about 1850 euro!

Correspondingly spectacular (“Spectacles must be”, Maria Theresa, “half resigning”) at that time the presentation of “Maid Clara” at Augsburg, which latter at the same time was paid reverence to as metropolis:

“ ‘Foreign’ animals had … a special cultural value beyond the courtly life, too, if they contributed to the increase of the attraction of a metropolis like Vienna and the amusement of its citizens … ‘All diversions which delight the senses in an innocent manner … belong to the comforts and advantages of big cities, making the stay pleasant for both residents and strangers’, it is said in a legal treatise ”

So Rieke-Müller, at the same time also calling attention to the competition of such urban events towards the courts, just as then the French court would have acquired Maid Clara only too gladly for its menagerie at Versailles, yet had to forgo due to the great cost for such exotic animals, 100,000 ecus for the same, 2000 guilders for an elephant in 1690.

That such spectacles – in the case here after all the only rhinoceros of the 18th century on the European continent! – were not regarded so unanimously by the authorities of also Prussia “towards the late reign of Frederick II” is documented by R.-M. by a 1781 cabinet order of Frederick the Great (pp. 163 f.) on occasion of the entrance of a “guy with wild animals” at Halle. Thus by the very same monarch, who 35 years earlier paid his respects to Clara on her appearance on the Berlin Spittelmarkt even twice. April 26, 1746 with the full court, the next day once more in private, spending 12 and 6 ducats resp.

Incidentally already 1744 Ridinger had anticipated – as just another example – per the title to his Fable set an “increasing curiosity for natural history”, an aspect R.-M. claims as becoming in vogue for the 2nd half of the century and proves per 1775 ff.

As on the other hand by his Elephant and the Rhinoceros (Th. 721) he confirms the ancient with Pliny at the head, according to which due to his horn the rhinoceros ultimately dominates in the fight of the principally equal colossal pachyderms, appropriately dreaded by the elephant. Documented on that score the wish of King Manuel I of Portugal for an exhibition fight between an elephant and the rhinoceros he had received from Goa in 1515. The former, albeit still young of age, bolted when only catching sight of the latter.

Present pleasant picture therefore – “It is said, too, that the rhinoceros … were cheerful, too”, so Dürer in his broadsheet of Manuel’s rhinoceros, though obviously enough not delineated from life – of highly substantial content. Ridinger – artist & educationalist. And anticipator, again, of the morrow. For what represents the Epoch of Sturm und Drang, is to be found already in his 8-sheet series of the Fights of Killing Animals, dating back to the 1730s (ll. 1-4, with text added by Brockes, † 1747) and held back for decades for but too good reason (Th. 716-723, complete of greatest rarity). For what also, although as softened own text for the late plates of the 1760s, the prelude to the Elephant and the Rhinoceros stands:

“ So big and mighty is no creature in the world,

That has not his enemy, who is a match for him. ”

For full text along with illustration see Ridinger Catalog Darmstadt, 1999, IV.6, page 95.

“ Clara was a rhinoceros born in Assam, the largest of the three Asian species of the rhinoceros … Given the regular and generous feeding, Clara likely weighted a bit more than her fellow species at average, which weigh between 1,800 and 2,700 kilogram … (Her appearance in Europe) sparked a wave of rhinomania as the many orders to record the animal in paintings, printed, as porcelain, bronze, and fabrics prove. Clara’s first appearance in Paris (1749), the fashion capital of the western world, was sensational … Oudry sketched Clara at the fair (of Saint-Germain) between February and late April 1749 as preparation for the painting which he was to present at the upcoming salon (1750) … Oudry drew the extraordinary animal repeatedly to analyze it exactly ”

(Kornelia von Berswordt-Wallrabe, Oudry’s Painted Menagerie – Portraits of Exotic Animals in the Europe of the 18th Cent., 2007/08, pp. 142-144 & V f. incl. text & 2 double full-page color ills.).

As Ridinger had practiced the latter already the year before by said six drawings

for his print Th. 295, the publication of which was effected still the same year of 1748 and made his Clara publication one of her earliest representations. Unless not even kept it as her first of scientific interest.

Leaving aside the only occasional unpublished drawings known to literature, including the one done by Jan Wandelaar supposedly at Leiden 1742 – the rendering of which only served, beside equal unmarked other rhinoceros illustrations, for simple background accessories in Albibus’s anatomical atlas of 1747, cf. Sliggers – the following two/three prints rank only chronologically scarcely before Ridinger’s:

  1. Vera effigies Rhinocerotis … Anno 1741 … / A true delineation or Portraiture of a living Rhinoceros … Engraving by one H. Oster not provable here. C. 1747. With parallel caption in Latin, French, Dutch, and English, therein embedded portrait medallion showing van der Meer, enclosed by maritime tackle. 41 × 53.5 cm.

    Van der Meer’s broadsheet for the sojourn in Frankfurt on the Main with the near-naturally drawn animal to the right before as rich as interesting mountainous background and secondary accessories. So looking through below the belly the entrance of the Knappenhof after passing a flagged town situated on the open sea, supposedly representing the port of origin. On the right below the head close to each other elephant in lowered fighting position and rhinoceros, the horn set to belly/front leg of the elephant, representing Already the ancient describe the dreadful fight of these colossal pachyderms … (Th. 721). On the far edge natives sitting/standing below a palm, whose arrows aim at each of both the two animals. With nicely drawn trajectory of the one intended for the rhinoceros.

  2. A true delineation or Portrait of a living Rhinoceros … in the third year of its age … A. 1741 … (has been in Stuttgart in the year 1748 …; bold type not in the original.)

    Either state following above version for the appearance at Stuttgart with the caption now in German, French, Dutch, and English, and the medallion with also modified maritime enclosure with the Knappenhof instead of the portrait of her captain van der Meer or equal-sized later copy with regard to the has been with obvious omission of the sculptor’s inscription, too.

  3. Representational Story of the Foreign Terrestial Animals, Second Plate, wherein the Rhinoceros presented. Colored engraving. Nuremberg, Homann Heirs, 1747. 49 × 56 cm.

    Clara (A) large from laterally behind before only slightly rolling plain country lined by two palms. In the cartouche top right reverse copy of Dürer’s 1515 rhinoceros (B). Left of this and laterally down to Clara’s mouth extensive text.

  4. Moritz Bodenehr’s (1665 presumably Augsburg 1748/49) here not affixable engraving of the 8 years old (= 1748 and therefore clearly May/June, s. a., at Augsburg) Clara seen by himself – Ad viv. del. et sc. – as in such a manner simultaneous to Ridinger. According to which he would have died only 9 March 1749 (so 1835 already Nagler) and not already 1748 (Th.-B. 1910) as both still left undecided by AKL in 1996, per Clara engraving, however, should be decided as 1749. For even a previous viewing at Stuttgart as certified for 1748 – see per II – would be chronologically exclusive. As otherwise place of birth/death are stated most varyingly by literature, too, while Clara here should support Th.-B’s. both Augsburg. “The (Bodenehr) material still is (indeed) untreated in the large libraries and print rooms, i.a. in Augsburg”, so Claudia Däubler-Hauschke resuming in AKL.

    With a general mediocre on the Bodenehrs’s artistic capabilities – “family of engravers and publishers, provable through three generations at Augsburg and Dresden from c. 1630-1792” – literature is unanimous at least.

And for the latter Bodenehr’s Clara would not be a competition to Ridinger’s Clara even if this should have hit the market only shortly after the former. Just as purely conceptionally Homann – III – is ruled out. On the other hand Ridinger had van der Meer’s news sheets – cf. I/II – at hand and used their background accessories of mountain range, palm, and ship. Based, however, as shall be repeated, after he had “seen it at Augsburg alive, as I

drew her in (6) different positions from life ,

in the height I found her 5½. in the length 11½. feet, of color she was dark brown below at the trunk at the breast and in the depth of the folds superimposed upon each other she is broken reddish …” to add her, standing to the left, hot off the press to his Representation of the Most Wondrous Deer as well as Other Particular Animals published in numbers contrary to Dürer and therefore as a milestone of zoological knowledge. Yet for the time being in black & white only!

By which the matter would not have to rest, when from 1754 on his Colored Animal Kingdom was published, in which he now

published two of his further Clara drawings for the first time .

And now indeed in color !

“ It is quite a well-made portraiture, leaping, and excellently colored. It is a pity it is so little known and used for scientific works ” (Th. 1856).

Present Clara still worked into the copper by the master himself thus leaping. Followed by one sprawled to the left again presently not available here (Th. 1028), yet contrary to the original with a second horn added by the sons as Thienemann reprimands severely.


Offer no. 16,280 | EUR 1300. | export price EUR 1235. (c. US$ 1493.) + shipping

Ridinger’s Colored Animal Kingdom in Original Coloring

available in

A Great Plenitude of Individual Plates


An Absolutely Exceptional Complete Provenance Copy

  1. “famous work which the merited naturalist Jacob Theodor Klein in Danzig published 1751 under the title: Quadrupedum Dispositio brevisque Historia Naturalis. Enlarged and revised, he had translated it into the German himself and his friend Gottfried Reyger published it 1760 under the title: J. Th. Klein’s Natural Order and Augmented History of the Quadruped Animals. Ridinger was in close communication with Klein, was supported by him in many ways in this (Animal Kingdom) undertaking and followed Klein’s system” (Th., p. 200)
  2. For instance of one Julius Hofmann, “author of the best (graphical) Goya catalog”, of whom the great Max Lehrs also said on occasion of the dissolution of his collection in 1922: “He still believed in the importance of the states, the pointed or rounded plate corners … chisel slips, etch stains, polished margins … as only the intimate association with an old friend brings forth” (Boerner CXXXVIII).
  3. Built 1731 for the Kamer van Amsterdam at the VOC shipyard there as hekboot of 130 foot length for 650 tons payload and 150/180 men compliment. 1754 sold to Batavia.
  4. Annelore Rieke-Müller, ‘ein Kerl mit wilden Thieren’ – Zur sozialen Stellung und zum Selbstverständnis von Tierführern im 18. Jahrhundert in Das XVIII. Jhdt. XXIV, 2 (2000), pp. 163 ff.
  5. F. W. H. Hollstein, German Engravings, Etchings and Woodcuts ca. 1400-1700, 1954 ff.. & Meder, Dürer Catalog, 1932, 273 & ill. each; Ridinger Catalog Darmstadt, 1999, p. 24 with ill.; Kornelia von Berswordt-Wallrabe (ed.), Oudrys gemalte Menagerie, 2007/08, p. 93.
  6. So Hubert Emmerig 1977 in Das Rhinozeros in Europa 1741-1758 und seine Medaillen on occasion of the 9th Dr. Irmgard Woldering Advancement Award of the Numismatic Society at Hanover.
  7. From Jean-Baptiste Oudry’s (Paris 1686 – Beauvais 1755) circle here available the drawing of a bear hunt.
  8. Bert Sliggers, Het schetsboek van Cornelis van Noorde (1731-1795), 1982, pp. 146 f.

Einem sich nicht zu einer 12blätterigen Ridinger-Folge entschließen könnenden Interessenten mailte L.H.N. was sein altmärkischer Großvater zu sagen pflegte, wurde bei Tisch genörgelt: Wer nicht mag, ist der Beste.

Daraufhin der noch gleichen Tages nun zugreifende Reflektant:

„ … Denn : wer doch mag , ist nicht der Schlechteste “

(Herr C. R., 22. Februar 2017)


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