Johann Elias Ridinger, Alexander the Great crossing the Tigris

Johann Elias Ridinger (Ulm 1698 – Augsburg 1767). (Alexander M. Tigrim superat … / Alexander the Great crosses with his Army … the Immense River Tigris … .) Alexander’s deeply staggered passage of the Tigris “without significant resistance” (Meyers Konversations-Lexikon) at Bedzabde 331 on the march to the encounter with Darius (III, last one of the Persian kings) with the decisive battle at Gaugamela in the vicinity of Arbela October 1st. Swimming along quite in front lower right above Ridinger’s signature boar hound as already chasing along on the 334 Siege + Conquest of Halicarnassus and “Ridinger hounds” likewise guard the signature on the Alexander drawing from 1723 (for both see below), while in the riding school from 1722 two boar hounds watch over the exercises of Th. 620. Engraving by Johann Balthasar Probst (1673 Augsburg 1750) at Johann Daniel Herz I (1693 Augsburg 1754; an “art publisher with an eye for quality” [Rolf Biedermann, 1987], “especially his sheets of large size shall be mentioned” [Thieme-Becker, 1923]). Early 1720s. Inscribed: XCIV (platemark upper center) + 3 lines in the subject margin lower right: Senior Ioh. Dan. Herz excud. Aug. Vind. / Iohann Elias Riedinger (sic!) pinxit / (Iohann Balthasar Probst sculps.), otherwise with caption missing here. Sheet size 18¾ × 30¼ in (47.6 × 76.8 cm).

Provenance: The copy described by Nagler in 1843 (?); Counts  Faber-Castell, their Ridinger sale 1958 with its lot no. 66 in red on the mounting board.

Thienemann + Schwarz 918; Weigel, Art Stock Catalog, XXVIII/Ridinger (1857) I, 61c; Helbing XXXIV (Works by J. E. and M. E. Ridinger, 1900) 1489 ( “Rare” ).

Nagler, Ridinger, XIII, p. 162 ( “rich composition”, yet erroneously as Passage of the Granicus [battle there May 334], therewith in unawareness of the caption up to the engraver [this copy?] for whom he erroneously states Joh. Daniel Herz I instead of Joh. Balthasar Probst. The former, however, is only the engraver of the pendant sheet with the Siege of Halicarnassos, while the present Passage of the Tigris he has published only. Logically this then also missing in Nagler’s listing for Probst [XII, pp. 80 f.] ); Thieme-Becker XXVIII (1934), 308-311: VII. Miscellania: (Two) Battles of Alexander the Great.

Not  in the Silesian Ridinger Collection Boerner XXXIX (1885; “of greatest richness … many rarities”) , Coppenrath Collection (1889/90) , R. collection at Wawra (1890; besides 234 drawings 600 prints) , Reich auf Biehla Collection (1894; “Of all [R. collections on the market] since long time there is none standing comparison even approximately with the present one in respect of completeness and quality … especially the rarities and undescribed sheets present in great number”; 1266 sheet – among them the pendant to the one above with the Siege of Halicarnassos in probably our copy, qualified as “Extremely rare” – plus 470 duplicates + 20 drawings) , Schwerdt (1928/35) , R. list Rosenthal (1940; 444 nos.). As then also here through the decades present for the first time and likewise without knowledge of any other presence on the market.

The smaller pendant to the 334 Siege + Conquest of Halicarnassus (Th. 917) in the first year of the Alexander campaign as early work of Ridinger’s within his Alexander cycle and both marvelous examples of early maturity and perfection as already repeatedly stated by example of other early works. Foremost, however, Ridinger’s tribute to the Alexander cult of his time and created as expression of his quite personal admiration soon after his return – to be set not before 1719 – from the three-years stay with Baron (so Allgemeine Deutsche Biographie contrary to Kilian/Thienemann: Count) Metternich in Regensburg, when “all connoisseurs … admired his skill and strength in both historic and animal pieces” (Th.) while he nevertheless not yet worked in copper himself. So “at first there (he) painted several historical representations for the art dealer Dan. Herz” (Nagler; recte Jeremias Wolff, additionally documented for Herz, too, 1732 only, see below), among these as continuation/closing, though obviously not published as politically incorrect by both Wolff and Herz and therefore known in its drawing from 1723 only, Alexander the Great at the Hyphasis in the Punjab, India, in Autumn 326 BC as the zenith of his empire and a turning point of history by which Ridinger with rather yet unconscious inner renunciation of the heroic pathos of the previous two engraved plates and in rewriting of art history now felt the Alexander campaign’s pulse, only to let follow already in the ’30s by the set Fights of Killing Animals – published then enlarged only 1760! – jointly with B. H. Brockes (1680 Hamburg 1747) a verdict of merciless rigor.

Two sides with tiny margin around the subject, above with 5 mm wider and here with the number not mentioned by Thienemann + Schwarz, below, however, trimmed close to the subject edge under loss of still the Probst signature, but foremost of the 4 lines Latin-German caption from Curtius Rufus, book IV, chapter 9 as obviously also neither known nor present otherwise to Nagler or he would not have erred about Granicus/Tigris and also had known Probst as engraver – on both see above – , that way then suggesting that present Faber-Castell provenance should be extendable up to the great art lexicographer Nagler (1842/43). Tiny tear nearly 9 cm long in the lower field left of the center professionally repaired and barely impairing, otherwise, as with such large formats worth special mentioning, of decidedly fine general condition at adequate print quality of contrast-rich chiaroscuro.

Offer no. 14,854 / price on application