Unique in the Ridinger Œuvre

The Intimate Cabinet Drawing of the Jolles Collection

Ridinger, Johann Elias (Ulm 1698 – Augsburg 1767). An Old Horse’s Upper Jaw-Bone as seen from Below. Fully executed study in grey and brown watercolor over graphite. Inscribed by old hand in brown ink below left: Obrer Pferdekiefer (Upper Jaw-Bone). C. 1765. 10⅛ × 5¾ in (257 × 145 mm).


Boguslav Jolles

Dresden and Vienna, his ligated monogram stamp in blue
(Lugt 381a) below right, presumably on his sale of

“the Famous Collection of Drawings and Watercolors

of Old and Modern Masters” Munich October 28-31, 1895;

Hugo Helbing, Munich. Catalogue XXXIV (1900),
Arbeiten von J. E. und M. E. Ridinger, no. 1554.


WELTKUNST vol. LXIV, p. 2688 (editorial contribution).

Fully accomplished study

Johann Elias Ridinger, Horse's upper Jaw-Bone

on fine slightly toned laid paper

with large watermark Rope-waving Acrobat on a Globe balancing on a Platform, similar to Heawood 1364 + 1365, but a bit larger and much finer and more detailed. The paper itself corresponding to those Dutch quality papers Ridinger used only

“ for the fine illumination ” for the colored works

since “it is the most decent and best for such a task” as he states in the preface of his Principal Colors of Horses.

Left of the inscription traces of erased date or year (…9?). – Inscribed by old hand in pencil below right: Joh. Elias Riedinger (sic!) f. as with regard to the “ie” quite common in the 1st half of the 19th century and still beyond (cf. Th. p. X, footnote 1), but occasionally inscribed by Ridinger himself, too (here documented for 1724/40).

Verso traces of previous mounting at the corners and narrow stripes at the middle of side margins. A needle-pin-small puncture restored and almost invisible from the front. Otherwise absolutely fresh. – Set into an acid-free passepartout with 23.5-carat gilt stamped artist’s name and dates.

Unparalleled within the drawing portfolios described by Thienemann

and also not among the about 1849 works comprehended in the 829-lot Ridinger-section in Weigel’s Catalogue of left drawings of 1869, and in the collection of 234 drawings sold at auction in 146 lots by Wawra in Vienna on May 19 ff, 1890 resp.

Only the legendary album of the Counts of Faber-Castell containing 95 drawings – for the most part purchased about 1830 directly from the Ridinger heirs and thus not gone through Weigel’s hands – contained an “Animal Jaw Drawing” dated 1718 as together the earliest one of the album. Thus thematically in the Ridinger œuvre almost matchless ,

completely executed anatomical study

of extraordinarily artistic and collectable fascination, only in the age picking up again what 45 years before the youth once occupied and now wished to be formulated as

The Horse-Buyer’s First Sight

For besides the jaw of Faber-Castell’s – not described in detail – there is in Ridinger’s complete œuvre of drawings as well as engravings nothing to be traced that could be drawn up for comparison regarding format and richness of details.

So in the 11th portfolio dedicated exclusively to the horse there are, among others, several studies of horses’ heads etc (nos. 3, 5, 18) but no bone studies of the kind here.

The same in regard to the Neue Thier Reis Büchel of 1728, Th. 725-736, dedicated to studies of hounds.

As the only one known bone studies the Neues Zeichnungsbuch of 1742 contains a dog’s skull, Th. 738, and beside other skeletons two of dogs, Th. 740. The 4-sheet continuation by the younger son Johann Jacob confined again to outer parts of the horse.

The same maybe passes still for the 6-sheet set Th. 753 f./St. 1346-49 published by Jer. Wolff Heirs known to Thienemann in only two sheet and supplemented only by Stillfried in 1876. For the present the kind of those sheets 1346-47 described by Stillfried as 23 single parts of horse heads and Six complete and Six fragmentary Horse Heads resp. has to be left undecided here. However, with just 6¾ × 11 in (17 × 28 cm) only negligibly larger than the drawing here, the sheets allow only very small, for the first one even just tiny studies. Of the same format by the way also the two other sketchbooks.

The likeness of the format on the other hand suggesting that the drawing here quite possibly was thought for a following series, but like many ones – to think only of the fable drawing Th. p. 278 cc – was held over in favor of other projects. So both sketchbooks originally were intended more extensive: the 1728 one, inscribed as “First Part”, as well as the other one which in accordance with the title should contain also winged game, but missing in the later said edition enlarged by Johann Jacob, too, and there even was dropped from the title.

The various parts and sections of the jaw bone numbered up to 37

analogously to preparatory drawings to the – recte, so Th., Appendix 1, pp. 11 ff. – opening plates to the Principal Colors of Horses with possible omission of the numbers 1, 3, 6, 8 & 29.

Optically of quite a different delicacy

than Franz Krüger’s drawn top & lateral view of a horse skull from 1815 ,

the former of which offhandedly reminding by its structure of Ridinger’s present drawing fifty years earlier (cf. Max Osborn, Franz Krüger, new edition ed. by Kerstin Englert, Berlin 1997, ills. 2 & 3).

The scientific theme of just this drawing – far more than at the studies of the sketchbooklets largely to be understood as artistic exercises and copies – quite according to his efforts to impart always and above all knowledge, too.

At which the natural sciences

were especially and increasingly with the years at his heart ,

much more than hunting in all its rich variety, culminating in the posthumously completed suite of the Most Wondrous Deer and other Peculiar Animals with the unusual forms of antlers and other variations of nature and those famous colored works that the master himself saw as the zenith of his enormous work: the Animal Kingdom the already mentioned Principal Colors of Horses and the colored 2nd edition of the Monkeys, Th. 541-550.

The quality of the paper of the drawing here

lets assume a date of origin of about 1765

when the preparations for the colored works were advanced enough to purchase the Dutch paper that is not to be found in any of the other works. Relating to the papers Heawood quotes for the first one – “Amsterdam, c. 1769” used for Tirion’s Nieuwe Atlas, the maps of which, however, dating from 1753. The second in the fly leaves of an Ortelius in the British Library, and with the addition ZOONEN in an Ortelius, too, of the Royal Geographic Society. Besides these Heawood mentions a quite similar watermark used by Van der Ley about 1770.

Boguslav Jolles embarked on collecting drawings soon after 1870 and expanded the collection through about twenty years on many travels at home and abroad. October 1895 his collection was sold in Munich at auction in 1567 lots, among which 692 old masters of various schools. Not least to the delight of the still young collector A. J. Domela Nieuwenhuis (Lugt 356b), acquiring here the greater part of his drawings of German masters of the 19th century. – Beside aforementioned jaw from 1718 here and now present


Johann Elias Ridinger, Upper Jaw-Bone

as an absolute Ridinger uniqueness

Peerless in the known œuvre , engravings as well as drawings ,

and in addition a quite singular evidence of his lifelong efforts to spread knowledge to everybody, not at least directed to the youth. In such a way then indeed

a quite personal , delicate cabinet drawing ,

a drawing seeking its equals.

“ Very fine quality ”

judged Christian von Heusinger, head em. of the Department of Drawings of the Brunswick Herzog Anton Ulrich Museum famous for its collections on occasion of a visit.

Without glass + frame.

Offer no. 28,861 | price on application

“ Arrived March 16. Beautiful, very pleased; impressed with your entire process. Thank you so much. Best regards ”

(Mrs. P. A. C., March 17, 2017)


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