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Johann Elias Ridinger, Hare with 8 legs

Baron  Münchhausen’s  Hare ?

Johann Elias Ridinger (Ulm 1698 – Augsburg 1767). Anno 1741. this Hare with 8 Legs and 2 hind Quarters has been shot in its burrow on the so-called Stickelsberg near Meisselhausen. Standing on a grotto before rich foliage. Etching with engraving. Inscribed: 60. / Joh. El. Ridinger del. sculps. et excud. Aug. Vind. 1753., otherwise in German as above. 13¼ × 10 in (33.8 × 25.5 cm).

Thienemann + Schwarz 302; Ridinger Catalog Darmstadt, 1999, VI.19 with ills. – Sheet 60 of the Representation of the Most Wondrous Stags and Other Animals. – The subject itself arched above. – Margins above & below 7.5-8.5, laterally 4.4-4.9 cm wide.

“ (E)xperience teaches, that there are many freaks, or monstrosities, with the species of hares, e. g.

hares  with  eight  legs , two  heads , four  ears  and  the  like … ”

(Georg Ludwig Hartig, Lehrbuch für Jäger, I [1812], p. 171).

However, the eight-legged hare came to great fame by Münchhausen’s tale:

“ Since I hunted a hare for two whole days … Finally though the hare came that near to me … He fell down, and what do you think what I found now? – Four legs my hare had below the body and four on the back. When the two lower pairs were tired then he turned … around, and now it went on with the new ones with enhanced speed. Never again I have found a hare of this kind … ”

(Gottfried August Bürger – ancestor on the mother’s side here – , [Marvelous Travels … and Comical Adventures of the Baron of Münchhausen], Leipsic, Dieterich, 1954, p. 27). – On the possibility of a relation to the German Münchhausen tale Mr. Heppell of the Dpt. of Natural History of the Royal Scottish Museum pointed out on occasion of an earlier visit.

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