Dresden asked

“ 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

Johann Elias Ridinger, The Rule of Death
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 Bayreuthwould 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).


Counts Faber-Castell

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, Ergänzungen zu den Œuvreverzeichnissen der Druckgrafik, 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 (Arbeiten von J. E. und M. E. Ridinger, 1554 items; 1900), Schwerdt (1928/35), Rosenthal, Ridinger list 126 (1940).

The  second  version

of  this  incredibly  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

Johann Elias Ridinger, Omnia Mihi Subdita (Schwarz 1427)
Schwarz 1427 / 14,857
Johann Elias Ridinger, Omnia Mihi Subdita (Schwarz 1477)
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

the  connoisseur

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

Johann Elias Ridinger, Omnia Mihi Subdita (Schwarz 1427)
Schwarz 1427 / 14,857
Johann Elias Ridinger, Omnia Mihi Subdita (Schwarz 1477)
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 . »

Wolfgang Weitz

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


William Hogarth, Tail Piece or The Bathos

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

Counts  Faber-Castell

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).


Counts Faber-Castell

as above, additionally in pencil “(Invoice of) 14/3 1914”
on the underlay carton

Radulf Count of Castell-Rüdenhausen

as above

Stillfried (3rd appendix to Thienemann, 1876) + Schwarz (Gutmann Collection, 1910) 1427 (without reference to outline engraving), here though as state II (of II) as unbeknownst to either; Reich auf Biehla 296 ( “Extremely rare”, 1894 ! Without reference to state/version); Wend, Ergänzungen zu den Œuvreverzeichnissen der Druckgrafik, 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 (Arbeiten von J. E. und M. E. Ridinger, 1554 items; 1900) , Schwerdt (1928/35) , Rosenthal, Ridinger list 126 (1940).

The  second  state  as  unbeknownst  to  both  Stillfried  and  Schwarz

of , as  hitherto  not  recognized , the  first  version

of  this  incredibly  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

Counts  Faber-Castell

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 … ”

„ vielen Dank für die Information und die Zusendung der Broschüre … Ich sammele seit Jahren Galeriewerke … Mir ist die Seltenheit des ‚Cabinet du roi‘ und auch die ensprechende Qualtät des angebotenen (fantastischen) Bandes bewußt … “

(Herr M. S., 23. Mai 2015)