Johann Elias Ridinger, St. Francis of Paula

The now utterly undescribed

3rd Version of the

Founder of the “Minims”

who in the Age of Ridinger saw their Zenith

Ridinger, Johann Elias (Ulm 1698 – Augsburg 1767). St. Francis of Paula, founder of the monastic order of Minims closely connected with the “grey” Franciscan friars, as half-length figure in brown habit to the left. Looking up trustingly, the right presses a sheet with the inscription CHARITAS against the chest while the left holds the knotty stick as symbol of the wandering mendicant. Mezzotint. Inscribed: Ioh. El. Ridinger excud. Aug. V…(ind.). 24⅞ × 17¾ in (63.2 × 45.2 cm).

Cf. Thienemann-Stillfried (1876) 1416 ( “A very fine sheet” ) and Counts Faber-Castell (1958) 140 (available here) resp. as first described version each with the letter

“S. FRANC. DE PAVLA / FVND. ORD. MINIMOR. / Ordinavit in me Charitatem.
Cant. 2. Cap.

within the mussel plate of the wood emboss and the inscription of the sheet “CHARI=TAS” in two lines; 20¼ × 16⅝ in (51.6 × 42.3 cm) & Schwarz (1910) “1416 ?” as second described version before the letter, besides CHARITAS in one line and “excud.” instead of just “exc.” with Th.-St. 1416 and because of its larger size of 28¾ × 21⅞ in (73 × 55.7 cm) moreover stating “With respect to the measures diverging from St. … hardly identical with 1416”.

Following then the one here not verifiable elsewhere as now third described version , itself before the inscription in the mussel plate and like the second one with Baron Gutmann (Schwarz) with single line CHARITAS & “excud.” as supposedly also its … “Vind.”, of which here after restoring only a moreover deformed “V” remained, see below.

As with the letter the Stillfried version has to be considered the last one, which in addition is supported by its smallest format as determined for the general use. In analogy to this the Gutmann/Schwarz version as the largest one would be the first and present medium format the second.

As a whole thus not in Thienemann (1856) , Weigel, Art Stock Catalog I-XXVIII (1838/57) , Silesian Ridinger collection at Boerner XXXIX (1885; item 2029 there then recte Th.-St. 1415) , Coppenrath collection (1889 f.) , Reich auf Biehla (1894) , Gg. Hamminger (1895) , Helbing XXXIV (Arbeiten von J. E. und M. E. Ridinger; 1900) , Schwarz (1910; see above) , Rosenthal, Ridinger list 126 (1940).

With watermark WANGEN (center) as standing for contemporary impressions and large crown below. – With white margin 1.5 cm wide all round as indeed worth mentioning with the particularly large old mezzotints. – Generally only slightly age-marked, yet beside various smaller margin injuries two larger tear-offs at both the two lower corners outside the subject, on the right indeed under loss of the “Vind.” finishing the inscription, yet all of which restored professionally up to almost imperceptible re-drawing of the hatching and utterly smoothed center fold. The print itself quite fine.

Even surpassing the Order of St. Francis in strictness the order of the Minims (Minimi fratres Eremitae) was founded by Franciscus de Paula (Paola, Calabria, 1416 – Plessis lès Tours 1507, his day is April 2) in 1435 and acknowledged as congregation by Sixtus IV in 1474.

“ The grant of all privileges of the mendicant orders … as well as the canonization of its founder (1519) contributed a lot to its spreading. In the middle of the 18th century (the order) had more than 450 monasteries with 25,000 religious in 31 provinces ”

(Meyers Konv.-Lex., 4th ed., XI, 660/1).

The rarity of present very beautiful motif – worked certainly in acquaintance with the oil by José de Ribera (about 1590 – Naples 1562) in the Vienna Belvedere Gallery etched/engraved by Anton Joseph von Prenner (Wallerstein 1683 – probably Vienna 1761) in 1728/32; compare also with the supposed Ribera picture in Petersburg Kagané (1997) 99 with illustrations – preprogrammed by the way as according to expert Sandrart (1675) the technically conditioned extremely fast wearing off mezzotint plate permits 50-60 good impressions only.

Correspondingly already in 1856 Thienemann, pages VIII & 270 :

“ The mezzotints are almost not available in the trade anymore

… all worked by and after Joh. El. Ridinger (are) that rare that they are to be found almost only in some public, grand print rooms. I have come across most of the described ones only in the famous print room at Dresden … ”

Present one then neither there as indeed discovered and described for the first time but 20 years later by count Stillfried. And may the by now three versions documented here have been intended for three different clienteles, so at the same time they represent Sandrart’s imaginably smallest possible number of copies, the necessitation of painstaking and by this expensive production of new plates in case the market requires more, as the rule for the images of saints and thesis plates subjected to consumption increasing their scarceness. And last, but not least for the exciting motivation of the collector intent on completeness and pursuing this with a bloodhound’s passion.

Offer no. 28,900 | EUR 1400. | export price EUR 1330. (c. US$ 1608.) + shipping

„ Ihr erwähntes Ridinger-Blatt (Th. 1254) wäre eine wundervolle Bereicherung meiner Sammlung … Sie haben Recht: Das Blatt ist äußerst selten. Die Beschädigungen des Blattes muss man also auch in Relation hierzu sehen … Ich würde das Blatt gerne erwerben, vorbehaltlich einer näheren Betrachtung desselben “

(… übertrifft es meine Erwartungen bei weitem und, nein, nein, auch der Zustand ist großartig. Es ist geradezu eine Majestät, vor der sich die vorhandenen Nilsons, Bartolozzis und Haids verneigen. Möge es eines hoffentlich noch fernen Tages in ebenso begeisterte Hände weiterwandern …)

(Herr M. G., email vom 13. bzw.
wörtliches/sinngemäßes Telefonat vom 25. November 2020)


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