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In Proofs as Unknown to Literature

Ridinger’s
Four Continents in Hunting Scenes

Ridinger, Johann Elias (Ulm 1698 – Augsburg 1767). Europe – Asia – Africa – America. Allegory of the Four Continents in Hunting Scenes. Set of four sheet in mezzotint (manière noire) & outline etching. Varyingly inscribed as below, otherwise in German-Latin as above with German-Latin caption of four lines each. 17 × 21 in (43-43.4 × 53-53.6 cm).

Thienemann (1856) & Schwarz (1910) 1131-1134, the latter with plate I/XXXVI; Silesian R. coll. at Boerner’s XXXIX (1884), 1979-1982 (Very rare); Reich auf Biehla (1894) 218 (Of great rarity. – Supposedly the Silesian copy of 1884); Tenner XCIII (1972), 4335 (Very rare; center fold smoothed out in each case, 1 sheet re-margined and restored).

Missing as a whole as even in individual sheets then already in the comprehensive Coppenrath inventory, too (1889/90), with the market sweeper Hamminger (1894), in Helbing’s mammoth offer of 1900 (cat. XXXIV), the Schwerdt Collection (1928/35), Rosenthal’s 1940 Ridinger offer (list 126, [Etchings and Mezzotints]). And more recently an unfulfilled desideratum aiming at the whole of a widely connected Croesus as largest collection of his days.

A 3-sheet torso without Africa at least with Amsler & Ruthardt XLVIII (1894), 874/76 (Extremely rare), while the sales Schöller (1921, only with small margin) could come up merely with Asia & Counts Faber-Castell (1958, mounted) with America, while Europe (lower margin trimmed to platemark) was traded here 1979 into a Palatine collection.

All without references to proofs.

Ridinger’s Wall-splendid Rapture

of his Allegory of the Continents visualized as Hunts

as downright a show example of art-historical expectation, for instance Jahn’s (Wörterbuch der Kunst, 1967)

“ The baroque favors the allegory thundering along with great display of figures in an elevated sphere. ”

And, so Schmale/Romberg/Köstlbauer 2016 in/per The Language of Continent Allegories in Baroque Central Europe (Stuttgart, Franz Steiner Verlag):

Johann Elias Ridinger, Europa (detail)
Europa (detail)
“ Nowhere Baroque has yielded such a concentration of Allegories of the Four Continents … as in the south of the Holy Roman Empire. In the ideas of Baroque of the shape of the world manifest, her political, social, and spiritual order, of the strange as of the familiar …

“ The iconography of the four continents dates back to 16th and early 17th centuries … Its formation is due to the discovery of America and the changes in Europe’s image of the world going along with this. Quickly the iconography expanded and reached by the conquest of the village church in the 18th century a concentration in Central Europe unique till today. They could be inserted into religious and liturgical settings as well as into political language or that of the history of civilization and mankind … As a pictorial language they were interwoven with texts, dogmas, narratives and stereotypes … The contributions to this tome pursue from different historico-culture-scientific angles the question of which meaning the allegories of the continents had for the people of the 18th century. ”

For Ridinger as always at the peak of his time, rather usually already ahead of it, in such a manner a choice morsel in general par excellence, presented of course with his most very own. Of which he ascertained himself most decidedly.

This then beside the almost untraceability of a complete copy

the event which here & now .

That is the grandeur effect of the striking dominances. Not distracted by image fillers, nonetheless having its essentials show sketch-like. As

a graphical truffle to those who want more than just the finished whole .

Who are fascinated by the look over the master’s shoulder at his bench. And also, that a restraint in inking leaves the essential more perceptible. See for instance per Africa.

Europa. / Europa.

Johann Elias Ridinger, Europe

Ioh. Elias Ridinger del. sculp. et excud. Aug. Vind.

Europa on a white horse, the par force whip in the raised right, amidst her five-strong, blowing and whip-cracking company in touch with the stag fleeing through a water.

“ Europe indeed is not plagued by ferocious animals, / Yet the hunt’s diversion shows the bold spirit, / As Amazon, too, force the game on horseback, / Until by long flight it yet finally falls a prey. ”

Large fleur-de-lis watermark (c. 3¼ × 2⅛ in [8.3 × 5.5 cm]). – 6¼ in (16 cm) crack of the platemark laterally top right undone by complete doubling with Japan paper just as two tiny(est) tears in each white upper and lower margin. An unsuspicious small piece of dirt ⅝ in (1.5 cm) below the stag’s fore leg. And partial fox spotting recognizable only in back light.

Asia. / Asia.

Johann Elias Ridinger, Asia

No. 12. (so Schwarz, too: The print bears at the center of the lower margin the …)

Ioh. Elias Ridinger , delin. sculps. et excud. A.V.

“ A fine Arab horse with rider [marked by terror] grabbed at the belly by a panther, behind even more hunters with javelins, all mounted on horseback ” (Th.).

Below the central group formed of several horsemen the panther’s little one, lying laterally on its back, attentively looking at its mother. Laterally left of this a dead hunter lying on this quiver, the hands still on the bow.

“ The people of Asia are easy at horse and heart, / Inclined to fight and robbery, despises the danger, / Ventures even to escape the tiger’s wrath, / Whom his young one’s kidnapping represents quite furiously. ”

Watermark HGL (c. ⅞ × 3½ in [2.2 × 9 cm]). – The background part of further independently hunting/attacked hunting party here in sketchy outline etching only.

Apparently inspired by François Boucher’s (1703 Paris 1770) painting of a tiger/panther hunt from 1736, which also Kaendler picked up for the Meissen porcelain manufacture within his Taxa Kaendler, at which it has to remain undecided if identical with the one drawn up by Th.-B. for 1737, see below. Out of question the similar one in Cologne from 1736. Compared with the upright one documented here, Ridinger’s oblong version is re-composed dramatically more concentrated. Since the scenery was picked up also by Georg Philipp Rugendas II (1701 Augsburg 1774) – cf. Teuscher 418 – it is to be supposed that Ridinger also in this case was the taker.

“ Through his friend Oudry appointed to the gobelin manufacture of Beauvais in 1734, [Boucher] easily broke with both the large allegoric compositions and the hunting pieces. Only to the latter’s species … he made some concessions yet by his designs for a tiger hunt (1737) and a crocodile hunt (now at Versailles). With far warmer sympathies he turned to … Yet it was his greatest bliss when in charming lines he could have his Love Swing float through the air … and shepherd couples practice their amorous play

“ His occupation at Beauvais [nonetheless] offered to him still further artistic gain: On his travels between Paris and Beauvais he learned to observe nature. Far from the boudoirs and the theaters he learned the pictorial values of the distant vistas at waters and woods, the charm of the clearings most delicately … ”

(Gustave Geffroy in Thieme-Becker IV [1910], pp. 428-432).

Africa. / Africa.

Johann Elias Ridinger, Africa

Ioh. Elias Ridinger del. sc. et exc. A. V.

Fight with the Majestic. A male lion has thrown down a white horse with his white rider and bites grimly the former’s hind quarters, yet is himself attacked with the arrow by an African with head gear, while the furiously risen lioness behind is hit in the breast by the spear of a white hunter. Again behind a second African with head gear and arrow in the raised right. The lion baby entangled in the wrap of the fallen hunter.

“ While Africa harbors wrathful lion kind, / So equally wild is the moors’ spirit in the country; / Half naked they head for the beasts, / Yet also horse and man often bite the dust. ”

Watermark HGL (c. ⅞ × 3½ in [2.2 × 9 cm]). – Both the upper lateral outer parts intentionally inked less. Just as also the in this regard general restraint radiating much warmth conveys coat and beard of the lions, but also the horse’s mane, significantly more visible and tangible as for instance the apart copy here in its duly much praised splendid chiaroscuro, see below. While with such closer inspection yet typical further proof deviations catched the eye, too.

So the master noticed – and changed in the final state – the rather horseshoe-like footgear of the right javelin operator. Marginally modified, too, for instance the pointed ending of the headband of the arrowman just as parts and decoration of the halter.

Three small tears in the lower margin – one of which extending ¼ in (7 mm) to the final word of the caption – neutralized per cpl. Japan doubling.

Apart here available besides the copy of the jurist Ernst von Feder

(Wertheim/Main 1824 – Karlsruhe 1904), whose comprehensive collections distinguished themselves within the prints not least by their gravures en manière noire, represented from their earliest examples (1648). And with the one here in said splendid chiaroscuro, s. a.

America. / America.

Johann Elias Ridinger, America

I. E. Ridinger del. sculps. et excud. A. V.

Indians fighting one of the eight Bearers of the Universe, that is, an elephant. The latter already has two under him, while others attack him with spears. On the right a dog is pulled back with might and man which has fastened his teeth in an ear of the colossus. Below a bow of some size put down.

“ America produces large elephants, / Which by stature and wrath are real monsters, / Though one is done by the mass of his enemies, / He certainly sells his hide quite dearly. ”

Large fleur-de-lis watermark (c. 3¼ × 2⅛ in [8.3 × 5.5 cm]). – Preparatory drawing in red chalk with Wawra, Handzeichnungen und Kupferstiche Joh. El. Ridinger’s aus dem Besitze eines bekannten Sammlers, 1890, 13: Indians fighting an Elephant. Design for the rare mezzotint America Th. 1134.

Architecture and sparse landscape of the but faintly inked background part only sketchily etched in outline. Correspondingly reserved also the pyramid of clouds. – Of the various small tears in the white platemark only one still extending ¼ in (5 mm) into the text field and one 2 in (5 cm) long through this to the edge of the image. Due to cpl. Japan doubling even the latter only faintly perceptible.

While Ridinger’s allegoric identification Elephant – America provoked Thienemann 1856 to his But this is an untruth, so only 18 years later it was of all things a caricaturist of German descent, Thomas Nast, “who 1874 linked the Republicans in the US magazine Harper’s Weekly with the image of the elephant for good” (rev/sda in the Zurich Handelszeitung of November 4, 2012). Even if he had intended otherwise. After already 1870 he had succeed the Democrats with an ass appearing in a false habit. And also their voters seem to appreciate their identification.

From baronial collection

with its blue initial stamp on the back, set off of crown with seven pearls on points (L v B ??; 15 x 15 mm), thus the new shape usual since 1806, each slanted in right (3) and left lower corner resp. from before the doubling of the sheets. If at all, then only barely legible that remained unknown to Lugt. There merely two marks adducible to a limited extent. The unidentified verso black 345a (vol. II, p. 93/II) of probably German provenance C v H with regard to the initial face and the setting off of the crown, which, however, shows only five pearls without points,

Then the verso blue 385 (I, 67/II) LB immediately below 7-points crown, by smallness (5 x 3 mm) and general composition indeed quite different, yet intellectually plausible under the premise that its owner Ludwig Maximilian Baron von Biegeleben (Darmstadt 1812 – Rohitsch/Styria 1872), specializing in old master prints/drawings, should have used further mark(s), as not unusual. And intellectually standing to reason since in such comprehensive collections of top qualities, interspersed with rarities, there are again and again significant Ridinger lots embedded. Till today. At which a missing in the 1886 Wawra catalog by no means has to be final as regards the collection. – His mark on the Beham sheet Christie’s 16544/Jan. 2019, lot 69 in red by the way and likewise but indistinct.

Biegeleben – ADB II (1875), 620 ff. – “was descended from a strict catholic family from the previously duchy Westphalia of the Electorate of Cologne. His father Caspar von B. was president of the court of administration … at Darmstadt … [He himself] already in 1840 grand ducal Hessian chargé d’affaires at Vienna … Heinrich v. Gagern as Hessian prime minister became particularly aware of B. by the brilliant reporting about the Vienna March 1848 events and recalled him from there to suggest him on the formation of the ministry at Frankfurt on the Main as undersecretary. B. was then … the soul of the foreign policy of the Imperial regent. He tried to bring order to the German chaos … The ministry Radowitz tried to acquire B. for Prussia; however, Prince Schwarzenberg succeeded in winning the Hessian legation councilor for Austria … and already 1852 [he] became … departmental chief for German affairs at the state chancellery at the ministry of foreign affairs. Filled by the greatness, the political honor, and the power of the German Office of the President, he influenced the administration of the affairs of the Germanic Confederation in this sense … By the blow of fate of 1866 [Prussian-Austrian war] the political career … was finished”.

As summa of this brilliant mind up to co-translator of Petrarca sonnets, parts of timeless topicality from late letters to a friend shall be included as for instance

“ You well know of which moments I think … and I thank heaven that I have to observe a state of affairs, of which one not even knows what end one should wish for, from afar only … Unfortunately our political decadence already finds me that hardened … Indignation is a feeling which at last tires and gives way to philosophical tranquility of contemplation … and at most we try our acumen a little at the question, if it happens intentionally or unintentionally, or rather, who helps on this consciously. On this there are quite a lot thoughts possible which I rather suppress … ”

To which only Horace’s 2000-years-old carpe diem is to be added. Picked up not least as one of the three essential motifs of Baroque as still encompassing Ridinger: Vanity – Memento mori – Carpe diem.

In terms of the latter indeed, too, present complete copy of the master’s FOUR CONTINENTS. May it now be on the part of Ludwig von Biegeleben opening up so lively or another baronial connoisseurs. Presenting itself absolutely homogeneous. With margins of ½-¾ in (1.3-1.8 cm) roundabout each, as likewise particularly worth mentioning. The respective centerfold perfectly smoothed out due to professional complete Japan doubling and no more perceptible from front. For possible other defects of preservation see immediately with the individual sheets. And what remained unmentioned there as here, is at worst just petty patina of two centuries and a half. And as set of proofs with

the master’s bench

as of quite different an immediateness than that of a print run. Carpe diem. Thus Horace 23 before Christ.

Offer no. 16,297 | price on application

  1. Meyers Konvers.-Lexikon, 4th ed., V (1889), 510/II: symbol of wisdom and sympathy … and eight elephants bear the universe.

“ The prints arrived today! They are very nice. Thank you for excellent service. Please keep me posted for objects I could be interested in! ”

(Mr. J. R. L., September 12, 2003)

 

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