The Four Seasons
Ridinger, Johann Elias (Ulm 1698 – Augsburg 1767). The Four Seasons. Large three-quarter figures sitting before landscape accessories (1-3) and at home resp. Set of 4 sheet. Mezzotints. Inscribed: Ioh. Elias Ridinger excud(it). A. V., otherwise as following. 21¼-21¾ × 16¾-17⅛ in (53.9-55.1 × 42.6-43.5 cm).
Thienemann + Schwarz 1193-1196. – Slightly reduced and somewhat reservedly composed repetition of the third (of five) set of the Four Seasons Th. 1181/84 – “The ideas taken from the works of (Hyacinthe) Rigaud (1659-1743) and other French portrait painters” (Th.), though as to the contents generally in the succession of antiquity and Middle Ages according to which the perception of nature by the elements + seasons had “an important part in the process of profanation of art in the 16th century” (Robels, Frans Snyders, 1989, p. 25) – under renunciation of the verses, too. Here now sovereignly in the broad lower margin separated from the picture by a roll border the Latin-German titles in large typography.
Ver . / Spring .
Young woman to the left at a balustrade, looking at the beholder. In her right a rose, the left in a flower basket on her lap.
Aestas . / Summer .
Young lady to the right with straw hat adorned with ears and cornflowers, with the right pointing to a grain-field imaginary in this version, while the left rests on brickwork.
Avtvmnvs . / Autumn .
Full-figured lady to the right, holding her head down contemplatively-melancholically. In her right vine-knife while her left – resting on brickwork with vine with grapes behind – holds a tendril with grapes.
Hyems . / Winter .
Gentleman in coat lined with furs + fur cap sitting in the armchair to the right at the fireplace though nevertheless in quite fine shape and by no means in the sense of Thienemann’s 1184 (“An Old Man”) and the verse there (“By warm water the old will heat himself”; thus analogously to the “Old Man” on Watteau’s “Coquettes” in Petersburg of which Pierre Rosenberg writes in the exhibition catalogue of 1984/85 “… despite his stick he cannot convince us of his advanced age”). Holding a cup in both of his hands he looks laterally out of the picture. On the table teapot and dishes with biscuits and sugar resp. (Th.).
Mounted by old at the corners on buff laid paper which is slightly browned at two/three outer margins. – The winter sheet with tiny margin at three sides, otherwise partially with such one or trimmed to platemark.
The excellent copy in regard to printing and conservation
of a cultivated collection of perfectly bright lights and shadows in all parts. And in such a manner of quite extraordinary rarity not only on the market as quoted above, but in general, too. Already in 1675 the expert von Sandrart numbered “clean prints” of the velvety mezzotint manner at only c. “50 or 60” (!). “Soon after (the picture) grinds off for it not goes deeply into the copper.” Correspondingly Thienemann in 1856 :
“ The mezzotints are almost not to be acquired on the market anymore …
and the by far largest part (of them)
… (I have) only found (in the printroom) at Dresden. ”
Besides Thienemann’s supposedly copy in Dresden and that of Gutmann (Schwarz, 1910) for the set here one with Rosenthal (1940) and that of Count Faber-Castell (1958) can be proven. The previous version 1181/84 was missing with the latter two, but Helbing (1900, “Marvelous mezzotints. Extremely rare.”) had it in impressions before the letter as complete set and with the letter in three individual sheets. – Thus here + now
the trouvaillesque opportunity
to take possession of this splendid , wall-flattering set .
Offer no. 28,413 / price on application
„ Herzlichen Dank für Ihre freundlichen und aufschlussreichen Ausführungen, die mir die Beschreibung des vorliegenden Exemplars sehr erleichtern. Schön wärs natürlich, wenn sich Ihre vielfältigen Kenntnisse zum Werk Ridingers vielleicht als Artikel, oder Artikelserie, im Aus dem Antiquariat oder einer Bibliophilen-Zeitschrift einem breiten interessierten Publikum zur Kenntnis gebracht werden könnten … Ich würde mich jedenfalls sehr darüber freuen, Expertenwissen aus erster Hand zu erhalten. “
(Kollege U. K., 12. Mai 2015)