Johann Elias Ridinger (1698-1767)
[Das in seiner grossen Mannigfaltigkeit und in seinen schnen Farben nach Original-Zeichnungen geschilderte Their-Reich]. Augsberg: Martin Elias and Johann Jacob Ridinger, 1768. 2 parts in one volume, 2 (440 x 280mm). Text in German and French. 2 engraved title-pages printed in sanguine, 127 fine hand-coloured engraved plates, all after J.E.Ridinger. Modern half morocco, spine in six compartments with raised bands, sections of leather from an earlier binding neatly laid onto five of the compartments.
A BEAUTIFUL AND VERY RARE WORK ON QUADRUPEDS, AND ONE OF ONLY TWO WORKS BY RIDINGER ISSUED WITH THE PLATES COLOURED. ONE OF ONLY A HANDFUL OF GREAT GERMAN 18TH-CENTURY LARGE FORMAT WORKS ON ANIMALS. A forerunner of Spalowsky's work on 'vierfssigen Thiere' (and perhaps its artistic inspiration), the present work is listed as having been sold at auction only once in the last 25 years, indeed Schwerdt noted that 'Thienemann, p.199, says that he does not believe that this work can be found in a complete state'.
The work is the final achievement of Ridinger's life and represents a collection of designs made by him over many years, his desire to celebrate the glories of creation and, more prosaically, to correct 'les defauts qu'on trouve dans les autres' (Preface). His aim was to show the animals in their natural postures and 'leur faire donner la couleur naturelle dont ils etoient pourvous': with this in mind, and working from life, he built up 'une grande collection' of European animals which was augmented from time to time by drawings of 'animaux etrangers' and by the drawings of others given to the author by friends.
Ridinger died on 10 April 1767 after he had drawn and engraved the main part of the plates, the work was then finished and published by his sons Martin Elias and Johann Jacob, who include an interesting biography of their father's life and work. Species from all over the world are described and depicted (the two plates of the Javan Rhinoceros, drawn from life by Ridinger in 1748 are particularly fine), then ordered according to Jacob Theodor Klein's cloassification, as published in his Quadrupedum Dispositio brevisque Historia Naturalis (Danzig: 1751). The first part 'title' does not in fact include the wording for the title, which is taken from the drophead-title on B1, and the second part is titled Das nach Original Zeichnungen geschilderte Their Reich. Brunet IV.1299; Jeanson 1622; Nissen ZBI 3408; Thibaud 785; Thienemann 974-1102; Schwerdt III, 145-6.