“ The  Fable  belongs  to  the  Artist

as  to  the  Poet ,

and  one  lighted  the  other’s  Light ”

Christian  Ludwig  Hagedorn

(Views on Painting), 1762, vol. I, p. 36

By his fables worked in the mixed technique of etching & engraving in the size of c. 13¼ × 9⅞-10¼ in (33.5 × 25-26 cm) and published about 1744 and (those rarest sheets 17-20 transferred to the plate by the eldest, Martin Elias, 1731-1780) after 1767

“ Ridinger pursued a typical purpose of his epoch. A ‘Correction of Manners’ by the morale efficacy of art – albeit in a quite different manner – William Hogarth, almost of the same age as Ridinger, had attempted by his paintings and prints … Yet while Hogarth and Chodowiecki tried to gain recognition for their (identical) ideas by satirical sets, as A Rake’s Progress, 1735 … Ridinger built on the – especially suitable to him (that is, so he himself, ‘since the hoary times of the ancient ages’) – tradition of the animal fable ”

(Stefan Morét, Ridinger Catalog Darmstadt, 1999, page 96).

Beyond that at the same time also, creating a new image type, leaving behind once more tradition and field. For, so Ulrike Bodemann in Metzner-Raabe,

“ No  similarities  to  fable  illustrations  known  hitherto .

Enormous image sizes filled almost entirely by the representation of a central factor of the fable tale. Surroundings mostly dense, natural wood .”

And Regine Timm, ibid., vol. I, p. 171 :

“ In his large plates Ridinger … sometimes has included vegetable growth or rocks, too, dominantly in his illustrations indeed, but without decorative intention. The plants and rocks mean the thicket, the deserted loneliness of the forest, in which the strange tales among the animals happen. ”

The great intellectual relationship with the already mentioned Hogarth by the way also unmistakably expressed in Garrick’s epitaph for this:

“ Whose  pictured  Morals  charm  the  Mind ,

And  through  the  Eye  correct  the  Heart.”

Chronologically interesting in this connection interesting that on the other side of the channel in 1726 John Gay, famous-notorious for his “Beggars Opera” (Brecht, Threepenny Opera!), had presented by his Fables “the most important achieved hitherto by English poets in this kind” (Meyers Konvers.-Lex., 4th ed., VI, 960/II).

Ridinger’s fable image then also a highly momentous milestone within the “basic corpus of about 900 editions of illustrated fable books” up to Chagall’s Lafontaine folio with its 100 etchings worked 200 years later as downright a glaring light for the immortality of the fable illustration.

I am glad to be able to present some of these in the fine qualities as usual here. Especially, too, to spread the thoughts of the “most reasonable teachers of wisdom” resting within. But also, much more prosaic, just as an occupation stimulating mind and sense :

Visual  Joy  and  Depth  at  once .


Johann Elias Ridinger, Cautious Prudence overcomes Malice

Cautious Prudence overcomes Malice! The fox posing as a scholar vainly tries to dupe the cock. This himself in the richly composed poultry yard with, amongst others, peacocks, turkeys, goose from Astrachan, Turkish ducks. – Thienemann + Schwarz 765. – Plate 1 of the set. – See the complete description.

Offer no. 12,502 / EUR  445. / export price EUR  423. (c. US$ 484.) + shipping

The Revenge of a Humble on a Mighty is detrimental. On an educational journey through Europe the elephant once accidentally hurt a pert little fox what the whole species intended to punish the colossus for. But all too soon “the army was pulverized”. – Thienemann + Schwarz 771. – Plate 7 of the set. – See the complete description.

Offer no. 12,505 / EUR  649. / export price EUR  617. (c. US$ 706.) + shipping

Pride despising others will come to naught by itself. A peacock shows off with his plumage scoffing at a beautiful rainbow and gets unanimous approval by jay, waxwing, woodpecker, and many others more. Then a marten teaches them all vain transitoriness. – Thienemann + Schwarz 772. – Plate 8 of the set. – See the complete description.

Offer no. 12,506 / EUR  496. / export price EUR  471. (c. US$ 539.) + shipping

Johann Elias Ridinger, The Age without Mind becomes contemptuous by childish Expression

The Age without Mind becomes contemptuous by childish Expression. The billy-goat behaves himself that silly about being elected by the animals as deputy because of his large beard that he “stirs up partly laughter, partly annoyance. This the artist presented excellently. The badger is rolling with laughter, the stag, the horse, the fox laugh him to scorn, the tiger, the striped hyena and the lynx become aware of the foolishness of their election and revoke it. And the monkey points his fingers at him” (Th.). – Thienemann + Schwarz 773. – Plate 9 of the set. – See the complete description.

Offer no. 12,507 / EUR  588. / export price EUR  559. (c. US$ 640.) + shipping

To get a bright Wit into a heavy Corps is impossible. Casuar and ostrich asked the eagles for the plumage of one of their deceased so that they also could fly, but suffered airwreck “as all fools”. – Thienemann + Schwarz 774; Cat. Darmstadt IV.9 with illustration. – Plate 10 of the set. – See the complete description.

Offer no. 12,508 / EUR  504. / export price EUR  479. (c. US$ 548.) + shipping

Malicious Flattery is finally disclosed and defeated. Two dogs, a little monkey, tom-cat, and parrot populate the room of a rich idler. Then to the dismay of the others the tom-cat forgets himself and cajoles the plumage of the peacock. Later the tom-cat has to die. – Thienemann + Schwarz 776. – Plate 12 of the set. – See the complete description.

Offer no. 12,509 / EUR  476. / export price EUR  452. (c. US$ 517.) + shipping

Johann Elias Ridinger, Splendour and Grandeur makes no one brighter

Splendour and Grandeur makes no one brighter. A monkey poses as the throneworthy and stag, billy-goat, bear, wolf, hare, Ridinger-hound, and other honest mammals are content with it. But the cunning fox lets the tom-cat become the seducer and the monkey “quite ridiculous to all”. – Thienemann + Schwarz 777. – Plate 13 of the set. – See the complete description.

Offer no. 12,510 / EUR  562. / export price EUR  534. (c. US$ 611.) + shipping

Innocence is often saved through the Hatred of the Evil. An owl once cheated by the fox warns “a flock of wild geese” to praise the death of Reynard the Fox as guaranteed. – Thienemann + Schwarz 781. – Plate 17 of the set. – Worked by Martin Elias as the first of the four rarest sheets of the set. – See the complete description.

Offer no. 12,511 / EUR  946. / export price EUR  899. (c. US$ 1029.) + shipping

Servitude taken up for Love of Splendor one shall endure with Patience. A stag of 12 ends subjected himself to the toil of a sumpter-horse for the fine bridle. “Thus suffer with patience” a badger comments. – Thienemann + Schwarz 782. – Plate 18 of the set. – Worked by Martin Elias as the second of the four rarest sheets of the set. – See the complete description.

Offer no. 12,512 / EUR  946. / export price EUR  899. (c. US$ 1029.) + shipping

Foolish Conceit about foreign Beauties deserves reasonable People’s Contempt. Zebra, monkey, and parrot travel in a country of which they suppose that foreign things were highly estimated there. Accordingly they boast themselves in view of horse, cow, and sheep. And see themselves confronted with reasonable opinions. – Thienemann + Schwarz 783. – Plate 19 of the set. – Worked by Martin Elias as the third of the four rarest sheets of the set. – See the complete description.

Offer no. 12,513 / EUR  915. / export price EUR  869. (c. US$ 995.) + shipping

Johann Elias Ridinger, The Innocence suppressed by an Invent Pretext

The Innocence suppressed by an Invent Pretext. A hare escaped from three hounds onto a rock falling a victim to a wonderfully feathered falcon swooping down. – Thienemann + Schwarz 784. – Plate 20 of the set. – Worked by Martin Elias as the fourth of the four rarest sheets of the set. – See the complete description.

Offer no. 12,514 / EUR  1007. / export price EUR  957. (c. US$ 1096.) + shipping

“ Fable  is  more  historical  than  fact ,

because  fact  tells  us  about  one  man

and  fable  tells  us  about  a  million  men ”

Gilbert Keith Chesterton

Alfred the Great in Varied Types


„ Sehr geehrter Herr Niemeyer, Grüß Gott,

Ihre Graphiksendung ist wohlbehalten angekommen. Ich habe mich sehr gefreut über die Schönheit der Blätter und ihren ausgezeichneten Erhaltungszustand. Vielen herzlichen Dank. Mit diesen Blättern kann ich in den entsprechenden Folgen einige schmerzliche Lücken schließen … Nachdem ich Kassensturz gemacht habe, der günstig ausgefallen ist, folgt hier eine weitere Bestellung … Ich hoffe, dass die Blätter nicht inzwischen verkauft wurden …

Mit freundlichen Grüßen nach Padingbüttel “

(Herr W. G., 3. August 2009)