“ What is BEAUTIFUL ? ”
As theme of the big special exhibition of the Deutsches Hygiene-Museum at the Lingnerplatz March 27, 2010 – January 2, 2011 for whose catalog volume niemeyer’s could provide the illustrations for Hogarth’s Analysis of Beauty.
niemeyer’s, always right in the midst , took part for the course of the year on his stage , his way . And presents here his current – and yet by no means final – contribution , intellectually ensuing his December appearance Less beautiful than wise to turn one’s back on a successful party in good time , for , so Rilke …
“ For beauty is nothing but the beginning of terror ” ,
what had Wolfgang Klein ask for the truth of this statement in the Dresden exhibition catalog, “ for one does not quite understand what Rilke means ” (page 124).
On which Ridinger ,
anticipating the poet’s word , replied
“ He whose eyes have looked on beauty
Omnia mihi subdita , Schwarz 1477 / 14,858
is at the mercy of death already ”
(August von Platen)
And of this then also Rilke might have thought when he started his first Duino Elegy.
And as niemeyer’s now proposes his answer to this , someone else may locate a predecessor for Platen. For, so the late Goethe towards Eckermann and Riemer on occasion of the discussion of other recourse in literature,
“ Even though the prologue to my ‘Faust’ has some similarity to that of ‘Job’, so this is quite right again, and I am rather to be praised than censured ”
(Conversations with Eckermann, Aufbau-Verlag Berlin, 1953, page 161).
Platen , Rilke & Co. just have looked deeper into the eyes of beauty than generally customary and – beneficial. For where this one and that ever listens into Rilke’s “(nights) not made for the crowds”, he hears the rustling of beauty, turning to shaded horror. Just as quite banally summer zenith is nothing but the beginning of once more fading light, to the days of darkness. And wedding nothing but the beginning of “ashes for thirty (years)” after “flames for a year”, if the prince of Lampedusa (The Leopard) not just wanted to see the exception from the rule illustrated in this.
Yet also in beauty-drunken states of intoxication and trance the horrible on its progressing path might become manifest and prove to be the drug of a too much. As then for instance young sensitive souls should distrust rather in good time the siren-like beautiful, yet only lullingly suggesting depth prelude to Tannhäuser by a great shaman, whose Bayreuth “would be something whereas Pergamon was something” (Spengler).
Be moderate! And this thus also towards the beautiful! And now comes He ! No, no. Here and now of course the omnipresent Ridinger. With a sheet ultimately not just occupying the mind, but also astonishing-pleasing, yes, indeed, beautiful. And rare into the bargain! If at least it would be just one! Have it again to be two of them? Of the same motif, yet with this and that quite different. And by this kicking against the pricks of moderation!
Voilà. That’s just how the master is. Complex not only in his œuvre, but also in his states. What all makes him so exciting for the connoisseur indeed. And lets the tale of the harmless Ridinger be a tale.
The Terrific Finale
No Frills Fantastic Main Sheet
in the Copy Counts Faber-Castell
of Graphically most Brilliant Delicacy
Johann Elias Ridinger (Ulm 1698 – Augsburg 1767). OMNIA MIHI SUBDITA. The Rule of Death. Tomb with death from whose head with an hour-glass adorned with bat wings on top a veil flows down on the back and laterally, enthroned above all the stuff of this world – represented outer right by a hemisphere – as there are gold, goods, seals + orders, crowns, scepter, orb + weapons, folios + cassock, scientific + agricultural instruments and nolens volens maulstick + palette with brushes. The right, however, holds a high tombstone, pointing with an arrow marked as “Presens” in the left at the inscription’s said final words OMNIA MIHI SUBDITA. Mezzotint by Johann Jacob Ridinger (1736 Augsburg 1784). Inscribed: Ioh. Iacob Ridinger sculps. / Ioh. El. Ridinger delin. et excud. Aug. Vind., otherwise as above and below. 22½ × 16¼ in (57.3 × 41.4 cm).
their Ridinger sale 1958
with its lot no. 146/2
on the underlay carton
Radulf Count of Castell-Rüdenhausen
Schwarz (Gutmann Collection, 1910) 1477; Reich auf Biehla 296 ( “Extremely rare”, 1894 ! Without reference to state/version); Wend, (Additions to the Definitive Catalogs of Prints), I/1 (1975), 270 with the knowledge of Schwarz; Faber-Castell 146 (together with Stillfried/Schwarz 1427 in state II, see following 14,857). – Cf. Niemeyer, (The Vanitas Symbolism with Johann Elias Ridinger) in Wunderlich (ed.), L’Art Macabre 2, 2001, illustration p. 105 (2nd state of St./Schw. 1427 in the copy of the National Print Room Munich).
Not in Thienemann (1856), Weigel, Art Stock Catalogue, pts. I-XXVIII (1838/57), Silesian Ridinger collection at Boerner XXXIX (1885), Coppenrath Collection (1889 f.), Georg Hamminger Collection (1895), Helbing XXXIV (Works by J. E. and M. E. Ridinger, 1554 items; 1900), Schwerdt (1928/35), Rosenthal, Ridinger list 126 (1940).
The second version
of this unbelievably fascinating sheet ,
not known to Stillfried (1876) and also not recognized as such by Schwarz and
identified here for the first time ,
in a copy of outmost beauty
and graphical refinement
as repetition with among others a decisive re-attachment of weight of Stillfried/Schwarz 1427 for which likewise for the first time a 2nd state with same pedigree could be proven and described here (following 14,857.
Schwarz’ presumption that the differences of present variant 1477 are merely due to the reworking of plate 1427 is incorrect. As proven below it is a work from its own plate whose thematic spotlight elucidates by a minor shifting a more specified message :
the “Presens” arrow directed at the sheet’s title
Schwarz 1427 / 14,857
Stillfried/Th. + Schwarz 1477 / 14,858
no longer points between the words OMNIA + MIHI ,
but directly at the M of MIHI !
While with respect to the presence of both variants, revealing the facts, the cataloguing for Faber-Castell was inadequate, so Schwarz’ erroneous assumption results just from his unawareness of that 1427’s second state of the plate shortened at top. For his variant 1477 represents in height the original format again, thus ends again just 1.5 cm above the arch. Whereas its width is c. 8 mm less with the result of a minor reduction of the image on both sides as missed by him. Just as generally the differing “small variants” (Schwarz) condense to a considerable, though only noticeable at repeated glance, mass which to confront with each other would lead too far here and not least reduce the joy, nay, the luck of own discovery for
who “still believes in the importance of states”
(Max Lehrs 1922 in laudatory appraisal of Old Masters collector Julius Hofmann). What must be regarded as downright unfair with respect to the presence here of both variants, 1427 + 1477, and by this the chance
of acquiring both sheets ,
just as once Counts Faber-Castell
though still having been dependant on the chance of a second opportunity.
But on the pleasure of the chance to compare both sheets a satisfaction of quite a different quality is impending in the present case as not recallable offhand for any other case of Ridinger’s mezzotints. For at least in its second state present here 1427 simply uses engraved outlines for the realization of the thematically conditioned exceedingly complex picture
instead of working everything out of the gradation
of light and shade as the principle of mezzotint
like present “repetition” 1477 ! Where engraved lines partially inevitably lead to more detailed chasing it is fascinating
to see its “ rougher ” realization being created
from the astonishingly difficult play of light + shade .
And to observe comparatively how cheap elsewhere, just also per 1427, such lines
tick off drapery , knit Goodman Death’s brow
Schwarz 1427 / 14,857
Stillfried/Th. + Schwarz 1477 / 14,858
or treat his limbs + joints, which
in the pure mezzotint of 1477 all grow out of itself !
Both versions are from the hand of Johann Jacob. To compare them with each other thus leads far beyond the side-by-side of deviations of usual kind, rather is a going into the medias res of the technique itself . What a chance of learning , of entering the subtlety of graphic expressiveness , of the refinement of understanding of quality !
With his comparably only small mezzotinted contribution being so much in the shade of father and elder brother, with the present sheet of Schwarz 1477 Johann Jacob shows his equalness,
his whole mastership in the field of the brilliant mezzotint .
For how precious this difficult technique was esteemed by Counts Faber-Castell shows from their written inventory present here stressed per exclamation mark + underline as “Schabk!” (Mezzotint!). And accordingly already 160 years ago Thienemann resumed with the words:
“ 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 … ”
(pages VIII + 270).
A situation also possible new editions could change little as according to the expert Sandrart (1675) the technically conditioned extremely fast wearing off mezzotint plate only permits 50-60 good impressions.
Just as the present sujet could be presented then for the first time by Count Stillfried only 20 years after Thienemann’s visits to the print rooms, but, mind you, only in the first state of 1427. Only 34 years later Schwarz then surprised with additionally 1477, of the latter after another interval of 48 years the copy of Counts Faber-Castell came onto the market, together with the second state of 1427 acquired in 1914, both then absorbed by the mezzotint-centered Ridinger collection of another count. And after a stay of 47 years there now here and today. With Schwarz 1477 as
pictorially marvelous zenith
of Ridinger’s vanitates pervading also the hunting œuvre
of great compositional abundance, based upon own design, and by inclusion of the painter’s tools with the attributes of transitoriness going beyond the drawing “Self-portrait with Death” of 1767 in the Berlin Print Room (color illustrations in L’Art Macabre 2, s. a., p. 94 + Ridinger Catalogue Darmstadt, 1999, p. 54, as well as, b/w, per I.5, p. 61).
« When I got in touch with Ridinger
for the first time about 60 years ago
I took him for a portraitist of the hunt .
His pictures I have seen (in many places) …
especially with and between hunting trophies .
This impression has faded away in the meantime .
has grappled with a wealth of intellectual problems
which had nothing to do with the hunt .
Evidently he was a wide-ranging educated man .
(So) that I see Ridinger
more comprehensively today . »
presiding judge em., hunting historian + donor ,
holder of the Distinguished Service Pin in Gold of the Deutsche Jagdschutz-Verband ,
by letter of August 30, 2006
All in the radiating light of the one from whose head bat wings will lead away the run out hour-glass,
the “ Presens ” arrow determines the direction
and the “ Preteritum ” arrow points at the ground .
But in the quiver there is the arrow “Futurum” ,
however this will ever appear. And its banner flies, contrarily to both the two others, in jolly assuredness.
The tomb inscription (this as well in slightly varied writing to 1427) as following, wherein the hyphens of the last words of the first five lines have to be replaced by a “lis” each, that of the following six by an “are” as globally illustrated laterally:
“ Sum qui non curo quis aut qua- / Nil mihi dignitas Papa- / Nec valet majestas Rega- / Stultus et sapiens æqua- / Dives et pauper est morta- / Non juvat hic se excus- / Nec ad Apostolica(m) sedem apell- / Dona promitere aut don- / Seu clam se velle alien- / Pacem non mecum est tract- / Nec dico quando quis vel qu- // OMNIA MIHI / SUBDITA ”.
The Present arrow run from the skeleton’s left pointed at the M of MIHI .
The heavy stone slab itself typical for Ridinger as such one occurs repeatedly in his work up to the programmatic personal book-plate (Schwarz 1569) with his painter’s utensils where a boy armed with the maulstick holds it, manifesting the master’s absolute necessity of life: “Nulla dies sine linea” – No day without brush stroke. In the transitory junk of the sheet here the painter’s tools by the way once more a unison with
who closed his graphic work with the sheet of the Dying Time / Tail Piece, or The Bathos of April 1764, thus six months before his death, on which, however, the palette additionally is demonstratively broken. Here available per illustrated Cook engraving of 1798 in the impression from 1808.
The excellently preserved copy
in an adequate impression
with surrounding margins 4-13 mm wide with supposedly watermark WANGEN together with separate IV as standing for contemporary impressions. – Of two utterly smoothed out folds running at each other in the center one backed outer left with slight pleat. Two weak parallel traces of folding, all barely perceptible from the front, moreover at the upper edge of the subject, one of which still traversing the termination of the arch. In this also an uninked hair-line crack running out from a tiny pleat coming from the top originating from printing. A few pin-head/tip-small abrasions. The slight touch of foxing spots on the back below not showing through into the subject.
In such a manner then a trouvaille of round about extreme rarity , documenting the inseparable-multi-layered Ridinger, the artist in his entirety. For the “harmless“ Ridinger of common art historian’s judgement never existed thank goodness. Rather he remained
“ one of the few German baroque artists
… who … never fell into oblivion ”
(Rolf Biedermann, [Master Drawings of German Baroque], 1987, p. 338). And presenting himself here in Johann Jacob’s rendering in a
really early impression
of incomparably beautiful plasticity .
In an absolute velvety brown and black
from which all bodily white shines in brown-white .
Offer no. 14,858 / price on application
And following then Th.-St. 1427 …
Purchased by “ Invoice of 3/14/1914 ”
The same as above , yet in said version 1427 . Mezzotint & outline engraving as already discussed. Inscribed: Ioh. Iac. Ridinger sculps. / Ioh. El. Ridinger delin. et exc. Aug. Vind. etc. 21⅞ × 16⅝ in (55.7 × 42.2 cm).
as above, additionally in pencil “(Invoice of) 14/3 1914”
on the underlay carton
Radulf Count of Castell-Rüdenhausen
Stillfried (3rd appendix to Thienemann, 1876) + Schwarz (Gutmann Collection, 1910) 1427 (without reference to outline engraving), here though as state II (of II) as not known to either; Reich auf Biehla 296 ( “Extremely rare”, 1894 ! Without reference to state/version); Wend, (Additions to the Definitive Catalogs of Prints), I/1 (1975), 290 with knowledge of Stillfried/Schwarz; Georg Hamminger 1886 (erroneously as St. 1527; “Mounted. Of greatest rarity”, 1895 ! Ditto without knowledge of state/version); Faber-Castell 146 (without recognition as differing second state, otherwise together with Schwarz 1477); Niemeyer, (The Vanitas Symbolism with Johann Elias Ridinger) in Wunderlich (ed.), L’Art Macabre 2, 2001, illustration p. 105 (copy of the National Print Room Munich).
Not in Thienemann (1856) , Weigel, Art Stock Catalog, pts. I-XXVIII (1838/57) , Silesian Ridinger collection at Boerner XXXIX (1885) , Coppenrath Collection (1889 f.) , Helbing XXXIV (Works by J. E. and M. E. Ridinger, 1554 items; 1900) , Schwerdt (1928/35) , Rosenthal, Ridinger list 126 (1940).
The second state as not known to both Stillfried and Schwarz
of , as hitherto not recognized , the first version
of this unbelievably fascinating sheet
from the plate shortened at top with at the same time modified signature, both according to the copy of the National Print Room Munich, too.
The reduction concerns 1.5 cm imageless filling of the plate above the arch. Within the signature the original “Iacob” + “excud.” are each abbreviated at “c”. If the deviations in writing and punctuation of the stone inscription, see below, quoted by Schwarz only partially are real or due to an incorrectness of Stillfried must largely be left aside. The comma in the 1st line after “curo” noted by both Stillfried and Schwarz missing in the copy here.
The both in print as preservation
very fine copy
in velvety brown-black with palpable chiaroscuro and the watermarks WANGEN and separate IV standing for contemporary impressions and surrounding margins of 4-8 mm. Both the two upper corners of it with backed tiny injury due to previous removal of old corner mounting on blue paper. On the left side besides backed minimal marginal tear outside of the platemark. In he lower left corner faint tidemark visible only in the white margin and the signature field. In the subject itself apart from that a small thin paper spot perceptible against the light only and a pinhead-small abrasion in the background of the vault.
The extreme rarity of the sheet magnified in the present case by its 2nd state described here for the first time .
1914 – 1958 – 2011 : You have to be very young
should you think you could wait and see with present sheet .
Offer no. 14,857 / price on application
as again and again
“ every day is a new beginning ,
and every sunset
is merely the latest milestone
on a voyage that never ends ”
( Ronald Reagan )
you should wait anxiously for
niemeyer’s february aha
For , so Goethe ,
“ Not if he had them by the neck , I vow ,
Would e’er these people scent the Devil ! ”
And prosaic popular wisdom
“ but life … ”
“ I would like to thank you most sincerely for your expert analysis of the portfolio and for the considerable amount of time you gave to this effort. I will take your advice and we shall see what happens … Again, my sincere thanks ”
(Mr. P. S., March 22, 2012)