“ Monkeys fascinated Artists at all Times ”

Wolfgang Stechow

Ridinger, Johann Elias (Ulm 1698 – Augsburg 1767). (Monkeys or Animals yet related to them.) Suite of 10 plates. Etchings with engraving after copies at third-hand (i. a. after the London physician Sir Hans Sloane, 1660-1753) and drawings by himself. 12½-12⅝ × 8¼-8½ in (31.6-32.2 × 21.1-21.7 cm).

Johann Elias Ridinger, A Masked Monkey from Guinea (Pavian)Johann Elias Ridinger, A Monkey with Three Claws (Sloth)

Thienemann + Schwarz 541-550; Weigel 28 A/B; Silesian Ridinger collection at Boerner XXXIX, 1896 ( “Rare”, 1885 ! ); Coppenrath II, 1555 ( Rare, 1889! ); Reich auf Biehla 136; Gg. Hamminger 1667 ( “Rare sheets”, but only four of these!, 1895! ); Helbing XXXIV, 1155; Schwerdt III, 141, f.; Counts Faber-Castell 58 ( only 7!, one trimmed to platemark, 1958 ); Ridinger Catalogue Darmstadt, 1999, III.14-III.16 with two ills.

A Monkey with Three Claws (Sloth) – Wood Devil (Mandrill)A Masked Monkey from Guinea (Baboon) – Green Monkey with Long Tail (Guenon) – Barbate Long-tailed or Green Monkey (Guenon) – Satÿr Big Monkey – Greenish Long-tailed Monkey (Guenon) – Lion Long-tailed Monkey (Guenon) – Füchsel manigen (Cheirogaleidae) – Common Monkey.

Published without title with the “Designation to be colored and to follow Ridinger’s great work”,

for the 1st edition — as here — generally only black impressions stand .

Thienemann’s further remark that the plates had been “reduced later … and incorporated slightly modified (partly with respect to the caption, too) into the colored plates” not correct and presumably just superficially based on the equal number of 10 plates each. Actually in the Colored Animal Kingdom, not completed anymore by the father himself, the depictions themselves are considerably smaller to provide more space for the caption, while the plates are of almost the same size. Where with the exception of the Lion Long-tailed Monkey (Th. 548 and 1088 resp.) repeated in almost unmodified position, Martin Elias as engraver of nine of the ten plates took over numerous, but by no means all animals of the set of the monkeys, partly in similar, yet distinctly modified position, partly in entirely new compilations, as well as adding previously not considered species.

Nonetheless, also of this 2nd edition of the independent suite, which is to be regarded as chronologically earlier, colored copies remained largely unknown and are not mentioned by Weigel either (28, A-E). Yet one and only one such was traded here in 1972 as an extreme exception into Hessian collection.

Present copy furnished with all characteristics of the first issue as described by Thienemann and Schwarz, but only partly corresponding in this connection with Weigel. Criteria for first impressions are for the latter the single-lined caption in German-French as well as the missing “of the enclosing line at both sides and … the arched one at top. Originally these impressions seem to have been determined for the Original Animal Work.” The second impressions then were “furnished with the enclosing lines and modified captions as well as numbers”.

Analogous to Thienemann + Schwarz also here only plate 1 has a 3-lined caption, plates 2-10 the single-lined one as a Weigel criterion for the first impressions. All plates with enclosing line + number as according to Weigel criteria of the second impressions. Since descriptions of other copies do not comment on this – only Schwerdt III, 141, f notes the numbering for his copy from the Earl of Fife collection – it therefore needs further comparing research in this case, too.

Johann Elias Ridinger, Common MonkeyJohann Elias Ridinger, Barbate Long-tailed or Green Monkey (Guenon)

For the chronological sequence of the (colored) plates of the late years apart from the variations already discussed above the present copy of the Monkeys also grants an interesting conclusion with respect to the paper. Aside from sheet 3 limited to just the lines as watermark all others bear, accompanied by known large armorial mark, the typographic WANGEN mark including “FAI” (known also “FIAT”) on preceding own line, with a lower “v” within the “A”. The paper itself in its weight varying from heavy to perceptibly lighter in the direction of the fine Dutch laid paper. Bearing in mind the remark Ridinger still himself made on the paper ( “because of the fine illumination done on Dutch paper as for this it is the most decent and best one” ) in the preface to the Principal Colors of Horses published 1770 posthumously, present Monkeys prove by the paper, too, as being the first in publication. For already here Ridinger visibly made every effort to get a paper as fine as possible as the WANGEN mill, however, obviously could produce up to a certain lightness only. So that for Animal Kingdom and Principal Colors of Horses he switched over to Dutch paper by C & I HONIG.

With gilt head edge suggesting the once belonging to an unmounted album, quality of impression and preservation are almost best, with 17⅛ × 11⅜ in (43.5 × 29 cm) the sheet size goes beyond that of the Earl of Fife with Schwerdt with just 16⅜ × 11 in (41.5 × 28 cm). Thus 3.5-4 cm laterally, 3-5 above + 7-8 below. Only plate 1 with two longer backed margin tears, the upper one of which touching the white platemark, and slightly age-smudgy especially in the lower margin. Otherwise generally in the outmost lower margin and in the right lower corner slightly finger-stained. The heading of the 4th plate “CEBVS” inclusive of, partly, lateral and top edge a little weak in print. Small brown spot in the branchwork of the 6th plate.

The set – etched after supposedly Jakob Jele (southern Germany 2nd h. of the 16th century), Karl Wilhelm de Hamilton (Brussels 1668 – Augsburg 1754), Lazarus Röting (1549-1614), Sir Hans Sloane (1660-1753), London, as well as after own design – belongs to the rarest of the master’s. Through decades it was missing in the most comprehensive of current collections, which could add it only in recent years by the partial purchase here of the legendary Marjoribanks Folios of Baron von Gutmann. But also the only 7-sheet copy of the huge collection of counts Faber-Castell could not be completed until its dissolution in 1958. And already in the 1889 Coppenrath sale it was classified as “rare”. The “Barbate Long-tailed or Green Monkey” present there with the remainder of 67 (sic!) copies (nos. 1555/56), however! Of which already at Helbing in 1900 nothing more was to be found anymore! Not one single sheet figured in his 1554-lot Ridinger catalogue XXXIV of that year, and also the complete set in one single copy only. Both in general contrast to other suites and their plates.

Offer no. 28,937 | price on application

Johann Elias Ridinger, Wood Devil (Mandrill)

“ The print arrived and the packaging was wonderful – thank you for your care with this item! The print is lovely … If you ever see any other prints of horses like this, please let me know … ”

“ Hello Jan and thank you for the wonderful email, I do speak German, though … My co-author is German, so if you could send the brochure I am sure that the information will be appreciated and used properly … Again, thank you for the wonderful service and communication, and please keep me in mind if other … horse prints come in ”

(Mrs. K. K. S., April 5 & 13 resp., 2016)


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