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Charles Le Brun, Darius (Battle of Gaugamela)
Darius III, last King of the Persians
331 B.C. in the Battle of Gaugamela/Arbela against Alexander of Macedonia
Detail from Charles Le Brun, The Triumphs of Alexander

New Old Persian Empire

« Having traversed a vast space ,

(Darius) reached Arbela about midnight .

Who can describe , who can imagine

so many sports of fortune as were witnessed —

the havock made of officers and soldiers ;

the wild haste of the vanquished ;

the slaughter of individuals ;

the massacre of whole bodies ?

Into a day were compressed

occurrences

which might fill an age »

Curtius Rufus, Alexander the Great, London 1809, vol. I , page 453

Carte de l’Empire de Perse

Persia

With large title-cartouche by J. Arrivet adorned with garlands

and 4-fold miles indicator with Persian, Turkish, French, and nautical scale. Persia map 1 : 7,600,000 by Rigobert Bonne (Raucourt, Ardennes, 1727 – 1795) in engraving colored in outline for Jean Lattré, Paris. 1771. 13 × 17¼ in (33 × 43.9 cm).

The Persian Empire

with her provinces, including Khorasan – Kohistan – Sigistan – Kandahar – Arrokage – Mecran – Mogostan – Laristan – Kerman – Farsistan – Chusistan – Laurestan – Irakajemi – Aderbigian – Gilan – Masanderan – Chiruan – Dahestan – Gorgan . Besides Armenia & Georgia 

In the north between Black Sea + Caspian Sea limited by the Terek River, in the east by Lake Aral – Amudarja River – Bamian – Indus – Multan , then till the delta at the Arabic Sea – Street of Hormuz – Persian Gulf with Bahrain – Qatif – Basra . The Euphrates till Hille , the Tigris with Baghdad – Takrit – Mossul – Diyabakir and finally Trabzon. By this also comprising all of Kurdistan. – Typographic watermark.

Offer no. 14,753 / EUR  235. (c. US$ 254.) + shipping

Persian Scholar

Persian Scholar. XVth Century. Colored woodcut by the Xylographic Institute of Hugo Kaeseberg (1847 Grimma 1893) after Alois Greil (Linz 1841 – Vienna 1902). C. 1877/84. Inscribed: HKbg. XJ / A Greil (18)77, otherwise in German as above. 7⅝ × 4¼ in (19.5 × 10.7 cm).

From Lipperh. Ad 46. – LEAVES OF COSTUME KNOWLEDGE, N.S. 74. – “Of not unessential importance finally is G.’s activity as draughtsman for woodcut …” (Th.-B. XIV, 1921, pp. 584 f.).

Offer no. 6,410 / EUR  49. (c. US$ 53.) + shipping

Persian from Constantinople

Persian from Constantinople. Glazed colored woodcut by the Xylographic Institute of Richard Henkel. C. 1875/84. Inscribed: X. A. R. Henkel., otherwise in German as above. 24,4 x 11,5 cm. – Plate NF 173 of the set.

Offer no. 6,395 / EUR  46. (c. US$ 50.) + shipping

Persian from Khoï

Persian from Khoï. Colored woodcut. C. 1875/84. Inscribed as above. 6¾ × 5⅜ in (17.3 × 13.8 cm). – Plate NF 216 from the set. – Longitudinal fold in the subject margin, three marginal back strengthenings, isolated foxstipples in the white field, only one larger, but only weak, too.

Offer no. 6,409 / EUR  35. (c. US$ 38.) + shipping

Persian ArcherPersian Commander-in Chief

Persian Commander-in-Chief / Warrior / Archer. XVth Century. Each in rich costume with the attributes of his profession, the latter demonstrating this. 3 plates. Colored woodcuts by the Xylographic Institute of Kaeseberg after Greil as above. C. 1877/84. Inscribed: HKbg. XJ (plts. 2 & 3) / A (plt. 1 “A.”) Greil (18)77 (plt. 2 “Greil ‘77”), otherwise in German as above. 8⅛-8⅞ × 4½-4⅞ in (20.7-22.5 × 11.5-12.5 cm).

PLATES N.S. 73, 122, 124 of the set. – Plate 1 (Commander-in-Chief) also available apart.

Offer no. 6,411 / EUR  138. (c. US$ 149.) + shipping

niemeyer’s — wo ein mehr das tun bestimmt

“ … lurking above a Caracal
Ridinger, Lynx & Caracal
… from Persia or Arabia … ”

Ridinger, Johann Elias (Ulm 1698 – Augsburg 1767). Cat Lynx, Mountain or Stone Lynx. Colored etching with engraving. Inscribed: LYNX TYGRINVS. / Kat Luchs, bürg od’ Stein Luchs. / Loup cervier. / Familia IV. Fünffzähige. / Ex Collection D. Kleinii. / J. El. Ridinger fec. et excud. A. V. 12¼ × 8⅜ in (31.2 × 21.2 cm).

Thienemann & Schwarz 1070. – IN  THE  RIDINGERS’  ORIGINAL  COLORING  from the unnumbered Colored Animal Kingdom created since 1754 and concluded finally posthumously not before 1773 (“Complete copies are next to untraceable”, so Weigel, Art Cat., part XXVIII, Ridinger Appendix 63a as merely 120-sheet torso, 1857 ! , but also just individual plates quite rarely on the market only, at niemeyer’s presently nevertheless the one as the others). – Remaining uncolored contrary to the prospectus, a second edition from the plates shortened even under loss of animals and with modified titling and the Ridinger inscription removed, yet now numbered, was published by Engelbrecht/Herzberg in Augsburg 1824/25.

Ridinger, Caracal
Caracal (detail)

“ Below a strongly spotted bobcat, recumbent (to the left looking at the beholder), above a caracal … from Persia or Arabia lurking. It is then a quite well-done illustration from the Ludolf (Klein) collection ” (Th.).

“ The lynx … is a particularly wrathful and pernicious animal for the hunting-ground, therefore one attempts to exterminate such one, as soon one has a trace of it, and to provide safety for the game … They are also captured, too, by setting up so-called turnpikes for them (to Ridinger’s corresponding engraving Turnpike set up for a Lynx both its original printing plate in reverse in the reddish-golden shine of its 265 years old copper and its washed original drawing available here) ”

(Ridinger’s sons in the preamble to pt. II, p. 12, enclosed in copy).

With Jacob Theodor Klein (“Plinius Gedanensium”, Königsberg 1685 – Danzig 1759; town clerk in Danzig, later director of the Society of Naturalists Danzig co-founded by him, member of the Royal Society, London, and honorary member of the Russian Academy of Sciences in Saint Petersburg; ADB XVI, 92 ff.), famous for his collections, Ridinger was in close communication and supported in his Colored Animal Kingdom undertaking in many ways, too. Following Klein’s classification according to kind and number of extremities – superceded by Linné’s anatomical classification – the early states of some plates of the set still show references to his Quadrupedum dispositio brevisque Historia Naturalis of 1751, as known to Thienemann for some plates and documented here for several more by a complete copy available here. Ridinger himself emphasizes by the preface in his words of thanks “in particular the tremendously beautiful collection of P(rofessor). Klein

of the Ludolph estate , which comprises nothing but original items. ”

Watermarked Strasbourg fleur-de-lis above arms + C & I Honig (type Heawood 64/Churchill 428) as that sturdy Dutch quality paper Ridinger used in line with his preamble to the Principal Colors of Horses

“on account of the fine illumination” for the colored works

“as for this purpose it is the most decent and best”. – Margins on three sides 1.4-3.2, below 4.8 cm wide. – Small faint spot accompanied by faint stain in the lower platemark as a precaution backed acid-freely.

Offer no. 15,925 / EUR  535. / export price EUR  508. (c. US$ 549.) + shipping

„ (Alexander)

(is) not their superior in intellect ,—

As wild beasts are wont ,

he was so intent on his prey ,

Ridinger, Leopard lacerating an Ass
Ridinger’s identification of a predaceous animal with Alexander
from the Fights of Killing Animals

that he had fallen into the snare

set before it ”

Darius’ comparison drawn up before the Battle of Arbela
on account of his enemy’s recklessness

from

Curtius Rufus , op. cit. , vol. I , page 432

“ Only at Gaugamela, not far from Arbela (in Assyria, today’s Arbil/Erbil as capital of Kurdistan, one of or even the world’s oldest continuously inhabited places), (Alexander) met the enemy in fall 331. Oct. 1 it came to the decisive battle there. Already Parmenion’s flank was pierced, the Persians stood in the Macedonian camp , there, piercing with the phalanx the enemy’s center, A. gained the victory. In Arbela, up to where A. restlessly pursued the enemy with the cavalry, the royal treasure, all field equipment, and for the second time (after Issus) the king’s arms fell into the victor’s hands.

Darius himself escaped with 8,000 man to Ecbatana ,

while Ariobarzanes with 25,000 turned to Persis; the other satraps dispersed or went over to A.

The Persian empire was delivered the death-blow .

Babylon surrendered … ”

( Meyers Konversations-Lexikon, 4th ed., I [1889], 316 ff. ).

“ The Triumphal Apotheosis …
Representing the Crowning Moment
Verdier, Submission of Babylon
of the Persian Campaign … ”

Verdier, François (1651 Paris 1730). Submission of Babylon without a Fight after the Battle of Arbela (1 Oct. 331). After the defeat of the Persian king Darius his general Mazæus, who had sought refuge here, surrenders the city to the victor, who meets him most liberally. Richly figured scenario below palms in front of the walls of the city. Black chalk with grey wash, heightened in white, on blue paper. Inscribed in the lower margin: maceo … … apres la Bataille darbel Vien ce Rendre a Alexandre. C. 10¼ × 19¾ in (261 × 503 mm).

Provenance

English private collection
about 1770

mounted by this onto sheet of beige-colored paper (38 x 60.5 cm)

watermarked D & C Blauw

(Heawood 3268; “England c. 1769”,
if accompanied by the secondary marks Coat of Arms & IV has to be left undecided).

Bordered by antique gilt paper edge and two double pipes in black, the mounting sheet is not free of traces of age, so for instance the upper edge with 2 cm brown glue strip on the back.

“ As Alexander was proceeding toward Babylon, Mazæus, who had fled thither after the battle (near Gaugamela “not far from Arbela [in Assyria, today’s Arbil/Erbil as capital of Kurdistan, one of or even the oldest settled region of the world]”, Meyers, op. cit., I, 318), came with his adult offspring, and tendered the surrender of himself and the city. His overture was gratifying: the siege of a place so strong were a tedious operation: his rank was illustrious, and his bravery acknowledged, and he had distinguished himself in the recent action: such an example might induce others to submit. Alexander, therefore, courteously received him with his children … ”

( Curtius Rufus , op cit., vol. II, page 6 ) .

Created in relation to

Charles Le Brun’s

Grand Peintre du Grand Siècle

First Painter to Louis XIV

Gigantic Alexander Cycle

on five canvasses of 2.98-4.7 x 4.53-12.65 m from the years 1661-1668 – adequate engraved versions from 1671/78 available here in a designer copy beyond good and evil – as one of those of Louis XIV’s immortalizations for which for his premier minister Colbert “no expense was too great when the king’s fame, la gloire, was in consideration”. Here then le Roi Soleil in the conceived character of “Alexander the Great as Master of the Battle”. Whose personal aura could inspire the artists indeed. So 1665, creating the portrait bust, the great Bernini – “Especially as portraitist (this) has been the most admired master of his time for the extraordinary ability to represent the individual of the person” (Thieme-Becker) – said on the spot “the king has Alexander’s head”. With the result that “The magnificent bust of the young king … represents the self-assured character of the sovereign in an incomparable manner: it is something like Jupiter which shows from the monarch’s serene features” (each Weigand, Der Hof Ludwigs XIV., 3rd ed., Insel-Verlag 1925, pp. 59, 152, 43). And so then also in the present case

“ Final consensus was

that no one other than Le Brun

could have created (Alexander’s Histories/Triumphs) ”.

Those culminations of acting by a man whose name just is program by its own. “Alexandros … the ‘men protecting’, Greek male name”. Here then “the Great” (356-323 B.C.),

“ the greatest conqueror of all times, son of king Philip and Olympias … His first tutor was Leonidas … then from his 13th year on the famous philosopher Aristotle. To this the honor is due of having awakened in the impulsive boy the idea of greatness, that sublimity and rigor of thinking which ennobled his passions and gave his power moderation and consciousness. A. always showed his teacher the sincerest reverence; frequently he said to his father he only owes his life, to his teacher that he lives decently … Already in his lifetime A. was glorified by the fine arts as no hero of antiquity before him ”

(Meyers, op. cit., I [1889], 316 ff.).

Picking the highlights Crossing the Granicus May 334 – The Morning after the Battle at Issus in Darius’ Tent ,

Charles Le Brun, Alexander the Great/Darius' Tent
Alexander in Darius’ Tent from Charles Le Brun, The Triumphs of Alexander

paying a visit to his family, November 333 – Decisive Battle of Gaugamela/Arbela 1 October 331 – Entry into Babylon Autumn 331 – At the Hydaspes or Porus before Alexander May 326 . To which grandeur

François Verdier

was committed to even more so as from the beginning and ultimately also personally close to Le Brun. So first as pupil at the Académie royale with a first prize each in 1668 & 1671, then as assistant in Versailles and finally since 1685 by marriage to a niece of Madame Le Brun. Whereas from a present-day perspective with him, too, the depth of the familiarity with ancient history surprises, here then

Alexander’s breathtakingly eventful life

based on Quintus Curtius Rufus’ description from about 50 AD, whose inevitable stringing together of fascinating events had

Verdier mutate to the artistic Alexander specialist

par excellence.

1668 appointed Agréé and 1678 active member of the Académie royale, François Verdier, son of court clockmaker Louis V., continued his studies 1679/80 at the Académie de France in Rome, where he was appointed professeur-adjoint in 1681 and tenured professor 1684/99. “Numerous engravers, including (Le Brun’s legendary Alexander engraver) Girard Audran … have engraved after (his) drawings” (Thieme-Becker XXXIV [1940], 233).

niemeyer’s — reliable partners for the better of the good

Signing his drawings – frequently of the same dimensions as here – supposedly rather occasionally only, he generally used beige-colored and brown papers, of which

the one here on its blue paper stands out clearly

as such at all times have been especially precious to the collector of old master drawings and prints, not least as suggesting a special purpose. Stylistically and technically adducible here in this respect for instance Verdier’s 6-sheet set to the Old Testament on blue paper in London (British Museum 1872,0113,763-768), which previously indeed had been attributed to Charles Le Brun and of which sheet 767 was part of the 6-month Japan Exhibition French Drawings from the British Museum Tokyo & Nagoya 2002.

Le Brun’s cycle only picks up the subsequent situation ,

Charles Le Brun, Alexander the Great/Entry into Babylon
Alexander’s Entry into Babylon from Charles Le Brun, The Triumphs of Alexander

Alexander’s entry into the city ,

by Donald Posner (Charles LeBrun’s Triumphs of Alexander, in The Art Bulletin XLI [1959], no. 3, 237 ff.) put into words summing up Curtius rendition

“ Representing the crowning moment of the Persian campaign ,

when the world conqueror received the homage of the ancient city ,

the painting manifests

the inevitable elevation of virtuous royalty ,

the triumphal apotheosis .”

Offer no. 16,121 / price on application

Bearing in mind the “beautiful , noble and gentle Darius’”

( Meyers, op. cit., IV [1889], 546 f. )

aforesaid contemptuous comparison of Alexander with a predaceous animal ,

the king hated the Macedonian as much as he admired him

indeed, even requested Persia’s tutelary gods,
so they should not be willing to retain him on the throne,

to grant at least his other wish , that is

“ that no other

may be king of Asia

than this just enemy ,

this humane conqueror ”

( Curtius Rufus, op. cit., vol. I, page 418 )

Which latter then in the aftermath of the Battle at Arbela had the mean assassination by his satrap Bessus punished cruelly on this and the dead Darius interred as royally as he treated the captured Persian royal family with for him such natural respect that his death in Babylon 323 filled Darius’ mother with such ineffable grief that she followed him but few months later into the realm of shades.

“ A Macedonian served (Darius) the last refreshing draught and was asked by him to thank Alexander for the magnanimity displayed towards his family. Alexander did not meet him alive anymore. He had the corpse brought to Persepolis and interred in the royal vault ”

( Meyers , op. cit. ) .

  1. “famous work which the merited naturalist Jacob Theodor Klein in Danzig published 1751 under the title: Quadrupedum Dispositio brevisque Historia Naturalis. Enlarged and revised, he had translated it into the German himself and his friend Gottfried Reyger published it 1760 under the title: J. Th. Klein’s Natural Order and Augmented History of the Quadruped Animals. Ridinger was in close communication with Klein, was supported by him in many ways in this (Animal Kingdom) undertaking and followed Klein’s system” (Th., p. 200)

„ Ich habe die letzten Tage auf Ihrer Website gestöbert, weil sie dem Uhu und anderen Eulen viel Platz gewidmet haben … Da haben Sie mir eine tolle Nachricht geschickt. Ich freue mich auf Ihre Post … Der Inhalt Ihrer Eulenbroschüre ist äußerst gelungen … (Da) haben Sie mir ein schönes vorweihnachtliches Geschenk gemacht! “

(Herr A. O., 19. November/19. December 2015)