where even

The Paradise

is to be had

Ridinger, Paradise 1


we come from


we strive for again

Ridinger, Paradise 2

Johann Elias Ridinger

The Paradise


The Creation and the Fall

of the First Couple of Man

Unnumbered set of 12 sheet. Etching with engraving. Not before the late 1740s. Inscribed: varyingly Joh. El. Ridinger inv. fec. et excud. Aug. Vind. & German-French-Latin caption (the two former referring to the Genesis, the latter complementary, see Stubbe below). 15⅛-15⅞ × 20⅞-21⅝ in (38.5-40.2 × 53-54.9 cm).

Thienemann & Schwarz (ill. I, p. 106) 807-818; Weigel, Art Stock Catalog, XXVIII (1857), Ridinger Appendix 53 as supposedly intermediate state A/B (of C, New impressions [of the 1850s]); Schwerdt III, 144; Stubbe, Joh. El. Ridinger, 1966, 42 ff. & plate 35; Ridinger Catalog Augsburg, 1967, 46-63 & ill. 5; Biedermann, (Masterdrawings of German Baroque), 1987, 163 with 3 ills.; KUNSTREICH, (Acquisitions of the Augsburg Art Collections) 1990-2000, 102 with 8 illustrations.

“ Mr. Ridinger’s noteworthy work is :

the Paradise consisting of 12 large sheets ,

Ridinger, Paradise 3

which is inimitable in the drawing ”

(Augspurgisches Extra-Blätel Augspurgische Ordinari Postzeitung von Staats-, gelehrten, historisch- u. ökonomischen Neuigkeiten [so January 1, 1767] of December 29, 1767 – see below – as secondary title of the Augsburger Ordinari Post Zeitung published under varying titles from January [?] 1687 until August 11, 1935, in which not least Catherine the Great [gov. 1762-1796] had “the Academy of St. Petersburg advertise in search for good artists … with success”).

A contemporary assessment as to date expressed no better, celebrating that capital set (Weigel III [1836], 3839) belonging – so Thienemann page 273 – to the most accomplished works, on which Thienemann (1856) already stated page 168:

“ … belongs to the largest, but besides also  to  the  most  famous  works … Here his genius could also show quite remarkably in the arrangement of the most varied animals, in the depiction of the finest tree parts and the loveliest regions. ”

And still at the master’s lifetime the painter colleague Georg Christoph Kilian (1709-1781) said in the biographical notes dedicated to the once teacher

“ how charming and theological his Paradise .”

And still 130 years later Rolf Biedermann, see above, will qualify the set by

“ It certainly reckons

Ridinger, Paradise 4

among his masterly performances in print ”

and claim – not quite justly – continuing

“ If one assumes that Ridinger is one of the few German Baroque artists who since his death 220 years ago never fell into oblivion, whose animal and hunt depictions are highly coveted by collectors, highly traded by dealers till today, so the poor attention art history has paid to him so far surprises. ”

To which meager proofs for the latter nevertheless the one or other grave voice is to be added, as for instance from 1901 Ernst Welisch’s “indisputably the most important Augsburg landscapist of his time … even though he is mostly known as animal painter” or from 1966 Wolf Stubbe’s

“ … so Ridinger’s artistic general appearance actually has nothing of an ‘Augsburg’ artist and yet one conceives ‘Augsburg’ as the necessary prerequisite for its development … In these characteristics, not touching his actual artistic findings, Ridinger is Augsburger, apart from that his graphic works have hardly anything in common with the decorative-ornamental engravings from the workshops in his neighborhood. Regarding content and conception, he separates himself completely from the ‘official’ art of the city …”

(insert here: of which Ferdinand von Kobell as painter colleague of the next generation sneers 1771 towards Wille in Paris as of the “insects of engraving [in the] miserable Augsburg”, lamenting “that in such a place a Ridinger – and Rugendas [had] to live” and 1772 Johann Caspar Füssli, painter colleague and artist biographer of the Ridinger generation himself likewise writes to Wille “since I have lost Ridinger I find no German friend anymore who cares about art.”)

Ridinger, Paradise 5

“ … Yet foremost the rococo-bright light gleaming through of the whole wide scene in the impressing evidence of Ridinger’s mature art of engraving (Th. 60, The Stag at Bay from the set of the Par force Hunt)! It takes quite a lot artistic intelligence to achieve this just as delicate as animating effect of light. By it, if he knows to handle it, the engraver possesses a decisive means for one of the most essential effects the art of engraving can achieve at all …

… and (Ridinger’s) drawing is not content with just the animal’s static appearance. For introduced or more correctly made visible with particular emphasis now is a new, highly impressive principle of characterization: The behavior of the animal in its different phases of life. If for instance he shows shoats, young wild boars, three-year-old tuskers, and four-year-old hound slayers in one sheet in movement, he shows the different movements of young, more mature, and older wild boars (Th. 209) …

… in Ridinger’s engravings the animal now appears soulful, and the artist soon gains the fame of being an ‘animal soul painter’. So Ridinger becomes the electrifying missionary of a then newly forming conception of nature (spacings not in the original) which consequently asserts itself also by a completely changed relation to the creature. No longer the animal is a kind of machine …

… but it should be strongly emphasized that he  has  been  an  animal  designer  sui  generis, whose – indeed unique – manner  has  not  been  met  again  by  any  other  artist  even  just  similarly …

… Measured by the intellectual habit of the average Augsburg artist, Ridinger is a distinct profane painter who at most can be compared with the sacral painters surrounding him by his didactic disposition ”

(Stubbe, op. cit., pp. 10 f., 16, 23 f., 13, 44).

Ridinger, Paradise 6

Thus Welisch as Stubbe essence-hitting voices of more recent art history. Who on occasion of the 300th birthday were followed by a five-year downright exhibition euphoria lead by the 1997/98 touring exhibition through Poland, documented besides by two detailed catalogs (Kielce & Darmstadt). In the latter of which Stefan Morét also traces The Tradition of Animal Depiction (pp. 21-30) and with regard of Ridinger refers especially to Roelant Savery (1576-1639), for his “actual aim … (was) to show the manifold zoological manifestations, the presentation of carefully painted native and exotic animals”, the latter he had become acquainted with as court painter of emperor Rudolph II, at once setting himself apart from the majority of the Dutch colleagues who had to confine themselves to domestic animals. And nothing could be more suggestive to the educationalist Ridinger familiar with the great predecessors than to follow the diversity of this superior interest. At which for Savery as for Ridinger a triad of animal, landscape, and man was compositional self-conception. For which there was no model more outstanding than indeed the account of the Paradise. The related subject of Orpheus (Müllenmeister 203-225) aside, Savery dedicated 15 single pictures to the Paradise (M. 225A-239). While

Ridinger created a

Ridinger, Paradise 7

12-sheet tour d’horizon as overall experience

and positioned himself by this once more off the main road, developed from a multitude of studies, on the occasion of the eleven ones at Augsburg Gode Krämer remarks:

“ The preparatory drawings for Adam praying and Adam designating the animals show (by the way)

how extraordinarily carefully Ridinger prepared the depictions .

Although naturally only a very small part of the preparatory drawings has survived, it can be perceived from the sketch of Adam from the red chalk drawing to the large general preparatory drawing

how much Ridinger strove for the right position of Adam .

Even in the unusually large preparatory drawing for the general composition he tried various positions of the left leg. Neither he was clear about the general concept of the depiction, for in front of the drawing one still sees a coiling raised snake and several rabbits which then have been dropped in the executed engraving. Amazing anyway that

for the animals in the Paradise renderings

Ridinger, Paradise 8

practically no preparing drawings have been found .

One can only conclude that by the long occupation with the depiction of animals Ridinger had

no difficulties at all with their rendering ”

(what Krämer established in analogy already for the horses in the engravings of the elder Gg. Philipp Rugendas).

A dating back of the first sketches to 1722 (Nagler 6) acc. to Thienemann p. 278, dd (1.) based on errata in Weigel’s catalog of drawings stating for 1744 & 1746 1722 and 1726 resp. Dated drawings of 1740 and especially 1744/46 – one of 1747 in Weigel erroneously 1737 – make a publication of the etched/engraved suite in the second half of the 40s probable. – The set of the 12 printing plates from an acquisition of 1999 in the Art Collections Augsburg.

And how much Ridinger identified himself with this series, is immediately proven by Weigel’s note according to which

“ The sheets of the Paradise of largest size marked with *  the  artist  had  set  under  glass  and  frame . They are from the finest period of his artist’s life and with the

abundance known by the engravings of a drawing and execution

as there may be found examples in the drawings of the painters rarely only ”.

Not by chance therefore and considering a graphic œuvre of about 1600 sheet raising particular attention the unique position of the Paradise set in the above

obituary in the press of December 29, 1767 :

Nekrolog Ridinger + Haid

(“ Our city and the whole learned Germany has lost 2 famous artists some time ago: Mr. Joh. Ridinger director of the Academy of Arts and Drawing here, and mister Joh. Jac. Haid assessor of the municipal court have died here. Mister Ridinger’s noteworthy work is: the Paradise consisting of 12 large sheets, which is inimitable in the drawing … ”)

And with respect to the captions Stubbe once more : “ ‘The Paradise …’

is of course foremost about

the relation of man to the animal …”

( insert Schwerdt: “ Very  fine  composition , showing  all  the  animals  of  the  chase  in  natural  surroundings , with  beautiful  light  effects ” )

“ … before and after the Fall of Man, but for such an extended program there were not enough subjects in the biblical Genesis, therefore Ridinger adds with each plate of his depictions literary thoughts of the Fathers of the Church on the Genesis. Of St. Ambrose, the bishop of Milan, he takes ideas from the first of the six ‘libri in Hexaëmeron’ and inspirations from the paper ‘de paradiso’ (additional reference in the plate with leaves 1 & 4: See Brockes poems 8th part pag. 81[?; Th. erroneously 71] and … 7th part pag. 720 resp.), Rupert, abbot of the Benedictine abbey at Deutz (Cologne) died in 1135 … has to contribute from his exegesis … to the Genesis. Also from a homily of St. Augustine … Ridinger draws a text motif … and in the 67 homilies about the Genesis, which St. John Chrysostom … has given (he) finds some inspirations. ”

Ridinger, Paradise 9

And since in life everything is a give & take, 1998 a well appreciated “rare” “Sixth Day of Creation” figured in the trade as “Very delicately executed, detailed pen and ink drawing … which supposedly should have served as model for the engraving” of Anton Edler von Weinkopf, secretary of the Vienna academy. Actually it was the truthful, at 47 x 61 cm sheet size supposedly enlarged copy of the first plate of Ridinger’s Paradise published a few years before, alienated merely by a rocaille framing.

With regard to the work much more interesting, however, that Hugo Helbing’s stock catalog XXXIV (1900), Arbeiten von J. E. und M. E. Ridinger, item 1408, lists a copy of the Paradise with nine sheets of which differing from the norm as following:

“ Supposedly proofs. On the back text to sheets of the Fair Game with their Traces, inscribed Joh. Elias Ridinger Augspurg A. C. 1738 (title sheet of the final state: 1740), from which is apparent that (that) set was published originally in numbers with printed text, of which Th. mentions nothing. Th. 811, 813, 814 without text. ” As here also not provable anywhere else.

In short , in every aspect matchless indeed the six stations each of the rise to quintessential life with palpable illustration particularly of the

“ apocalyptic animal peace ”

realized again and again also by the past masters and the gradual sinking into temptation with all its bad consequences down to the expulsion from the Garden of Eden, which at the same time amounts to a new beginning. Radiating equally lyrics and drama. And brilliantly the mimics of witnessing all this on the part of the animals. Which are scared and perturbed about what is looming and ultimately happening in front of their eyes, and they attempt to prevent it. And in the end their lamentation and their collective exodus from the happy, the ideal world, into an everyone against everyone down to man as now adversary.

Presented this all, here & now, in a

Ridinger, Paradise 10

wonderful copy

of enthusingly splendid chiaroscuro

on its full sheets of 47.7-48.2 x 68.3-68.8 cm, as traded here not yet quite so and with the exception of the Schwerdt copy (52 x 71 cm) also elsewhere here not provable so. Consequently here thus with margin widths of proportionally well balanced 6.5-8 cm laterally & 3-5.4 cm for above and below, as to the size of the plate. Differing only sheet 2, see below, with only 5.2-5.3 and 3.9-4.9 cm resp. at only 48.5 x 65.7 cm sheet size.

With regard to the print obviously an intermediate state between Weigel A (Old impressions [laid paper/lines watermark]) and Weigel B (Later impressions, supposedly those of the new edition by Engelbrecht-Herzberg at Augsburg in 1824/25 after the Ridinger publishing house devolved upon Engelbrecht 1821 the latest). Doubtless from this present sheet 2 of the set on its fine Basle Thurneisen paper (watermark: Thurneisen / G[roß]. R[eal].) as frequently used for the comprehensive new editions of those years, the subscription prospectus of which of August 1824 i. a. stating that due to

“ the now accomplished copper printing and its expedient setting (prints are produced), which surpass without any restoring aid older impressions in clarity and strength, and … will have the advantage to keep their color unchanged ”.

The latter confirmed by Thurneisen-Ridinger available/traded here, although without being able to compete with contemporary and for their part indeed color stable impressions as often coming across a little hard, as here in comparison with the remaining, much warmer and therefore more vibrant eleven sheets with their watermark

I. C de (& ?) R. Im Hof / Gr. Real

of Johann Christoph im Hof-Burckhardt’s likewise Basle paper mill à la The-better-is-the-good’s-enemy downright leaping to the eye. And therefore it is difficult to relate Ridinger’s Im Hof-qualities to the editions of 1824/25 as chronologically quite conceivable and possible. And so it was here already on occasion of an Im Hof-Paradise traded here in 1992

Ridinger, Paradise 11

“ … impressions whose print quality, supported also by the Im Hof watermark, allows to assign them at about 1800. Thus distinctly before Engelbrecht’s likewise still very fine impressions … which, however, come across a little hard. Here, however, still the utter tenderness of the tone by which the old impressions enthuse again and again. ”

This chronological approach unvariedly conceivable and possible since the Gallician paper mill – dating back to 1453 and today seat of the Swiss Museum for Paper – at St. Alban-Tal in Basle was taken over already 1778 by the bookseller and publisher Joh. Chr. Im Hof-Burckhardt and run no longer than 1850 the latest, when the brothers Hugo used the facilities as tobacco manufactory. However, in this late period the new editions of Ridinger’s plates (Weigel C) were published on an entirely different, that is novel, from a present-day perspective nevertheless hardly appropriate copperplate printing paper.

The watermark read as I(ohann). C(hristoph) de R(udolf). Im Hofe solvable as for time/place although rather unusual name designation in the manner of the old Dutch, thus Joh. Chr., son of Rudolf. Alternatively the de would have to be seen as dainty &-character with the reasonable reading Joh. Chr. & Rudolf. The latter as follows with Löffler-Kirchner II (1936), 148:

“ Imhoff, Johann Rudolf (also written Im Hof), bookseller in Basle about the mid-18th century, according to his stock catalog circulated 1760 evidently one of the first representatives of the ‘remainder bookshop’. Beside his own publishing house he offered batch items which he ‘acquired himself and are to be had in quantity’. ”

Both readings thus in unison with the early classification here of eleven of the prints in also chronologically still great vicinity to the contemporary ones.

The set’s state of preservation corresponding to its whole as to be complemented as following: sheet 2 (Thurneisen impression) with centerfold and little pleat in the left third of the subject smoothed each and only little perceptible wiped white in the lower right part of the subject. Sheet 5 with margin tear running through the far left lower corner of the subject closed as professionally with (mostly) papier-mâché (here noticeable as discoloring almost only at the far edge of the sheet) as generally various tears or repairs/additions in the luxuriously wide white paper margins. Otherwise, as stated, perfect and with exception of just sheet 2 absolutely original unfolded, thus without the former centerfolds frequently to be noted with the oversized sheets.

Résumé …

The Grandiose Series

Ridinger, Paradise 12

in a Copy

close to the Absolute

Offer no. 15,868 / sold

The  following  two Paradise sheets originating from an old estate had to be unframed and cleaned, before the fine printing quality of these old impressions on laid paper showed also optically again :

And the Lord God planted a garden eastward in Eden … God’s creation celebrates the first sunrise for Adam. 15½ × 21¼ in (39.3 × 54 cm). – Thienemann 808. – Plate 2 of the set.

“ All, except for the still lonely man, in pairs. Bull and cow next to him, ram and sheep not for from that, a couple of groundhogs, hares, peacocks, turkeys, swans, cormorants, herons, all kinds of ducks, additionally a gazelle, and a crocodile, lonely ”


With margins above & below 1.5-3.1, laterally 2.1-2.3 cm wide. – Not perceptible from front, a tear running almost horizontally for still about 5 cm through the upper right corner of the image as well as three small tears in the white upper margin backed acid-freely.

Offer no. 28,366 / EUR  610. / export price EUR  580. (c. US$ 632.) + shipping

And gave also unto her husband with her; and he did eat. 15⅜ × 21½ in (39.1 × 54.7 cm). – Thienemann 814. – Plate 8 of the set.

One executed preparatory drawing and three sketches Weigel 803-806. Three sketches in Augsburg for the central group of two, one of which executed.

“ The faithful dog below Adam distorts the belly convulsively and howls for sympathetic grieve, the cat wallows in the dust. A parrot tries to punish Eve. Behind her two peacocks, as allegory of haughtiness and self-complacency, then a glutton – symbol of self-indulgence, greediness – the bird of paradise hastens to leave the paradise. Also a lustful and lascivious baboon looks approvingly ”

(Thienemann). – On the left both right in front and set back

the rhinoceros “Clara”

drawn by Ridinger from life in Augsburg 1748

as the first scientific representation of the rhinoceros

(Th. 295; just got in the two Claras from Ridinger’s Animal Kingdom in their original coloring, Th. 1027 & 1028), at the edge on the right the “Indian Wolf” drawn from life by stepson Seutter in Florence 1744 and engraved by Ridinger in 1745 (Th. 279) as

“ first good illustration of the striated hyena ”

(Th.) worked years before Buffon. Dates which are of interest for the chronological classification of the Paradise set at the late 40s or even later. Possible as model also the drawing of the running rhinoceros Weigel/1869, lot 708.

Margins above & below 1.1-4, laterally 2-2.1 cm wide. – In the right outer field of the picture five (three larger) acid-freely backed tears not perceptible from the front, one such in the white subfield reaching to the edge of the subject.

Offer no. 28,369 / EUR  535. / export price EUR  508. (c. US$ 554.) + shipping

  1. KUNSTREICH, op. cit., page 20, ann. 7.
  2. Mannheim July 10, 1771, in Décultot et al. [ed.]. Joh. Gg. Wille / Briefwechsel. 1999. Page 486.
  3. Zurich July 12, 1772, in op. cit., page 499.
  4. Johann Elias Ridinger (1698-1767) / Grafika. Ed. by Muzeum Narodowe w Kielcach. 1997. – Polish-German parallel text.
  5. Stefan Morét and Arnulf Rosenstock. Die Tierdarstellungen von Johann Elias Ridinger. 1999.
  6. Kurt J. Müllenmeister. Roelant Savery / Die Gemälde. 1988.
  7. Ridinger cabinet exhibition of the Augsburg Art Collections 2001.
  8. 37 as “Rich compilations with more or less deviations from the engraved sheets, especially in the sketches” still 1869 in the “Catalog of a Collection of Original Drawings … founded and bequeathed by J. A. G. Weigel in Leipsic” (nos. 779-815).
  9. At which also the obvious recourse to existing material elsewhere should not be overlooked.
  10. Rugendas. Eine Künstlerfamilie in Wandel und Tradition. Exhibition catalog. 1998. Page 27/III. – Augsburger Museumsschriften 10. Ed. by Björn J. Kommer.
  11. Page 229 of Weigel’s already introduced estate catalog of 1869.
  12. op. cit. Page 44
  13. C. F. G. R. Schwerdt. Hunting, Hawking, Shooting illustrated in a catalogue of books, manuscripts, prints and drawings. vol. III. 1928/1985. Page 144.
  14. Supposedly lot 1762 of catalog XXXV of the George Hamminger Collection, Regensburg, sold at auction 1895 at Hugo Helbing in Munich, albeit there with, as the case may be, the erroneous appearance of a not further identified text on the back of all 12 sheets.

“ I have no need to ask reference about you because I know your name like one of the best on the market. Thank you again for your request and my best regards ”

(Sig. U. B., October 30, 2009)