Johann Elias Ridinger, Rhinoceros (leaping)

Johann Elias Ridinger (Ulm 1698 – Augsburg 1767). Asiatic Rhinoceros. Before reed and tree scenery leaping to the right. Colored etching & engraving. Inscribed: RHINOCEROS. / Nasehorn. / Rhinocerot. / Familia III. Dreÿhufige. / Joh. El. Ridinger ad vivum del. fec. et exc. Aug. Vind. 12⅛ × 8¼ in (30.8 × 20.8 cm).

Thienemann & Schwarz 1027. – 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.

Final state with the Familia line within the caption slightly moved up after the removal of the “Q. D. S. XI.” as reference to Jacob Theodor Klein’s Quadrupedum dispositio brevisque Historia Naturalis of 1751 unbeknown to Thienemann.

With 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 Following Klein’s classification according to kind and number of extremities – superceded by Linné’s anatomical classification – the early states of some plates of the set still show references to his Quadrupedum dispositio brevisque Historia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.”

With watermark C & I Honig 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 1.8-3.2 cm, below 5.1 cm wide.

Depicted  the  rare  Indian  one-horned  rhinoceros  “Maid Clara”

(Rhinoceros indicus Cuv. / R. unicornis L.), which Douwe Mout van der Me(e)r, master of the Knapenhoff of the East India Company, had brought from Asia to Holland in 1741 and shown in Europe until her death in 1758 (so Morét in Catalog Darmstadt; Rieke-Müller in [The XVIIIth Cent.] “About 1741/48”).

At her presentation May/June “At Augspurg seen alive … (and) drawn in (6) different positions from life” and added hot off the press as first scientific portrayal of the rhinoceros and therefore a milestone of zoological knowledge to his Representation of the Most Wondrous Deer as well as Other Particular Animals published in numbers (Th. 295; cf. nos. 50-55 of the Ridinger appendix of the catalog of the bequeathed drawings of 1869),

“ Ridinger  now  countered  by  his  rhinoceros  the  one  by  Dürer

by  a  rendering  of  greater  natural  truth

drawn  from  life  and  adequate  to  the  scientific  standards  of  his  time ”


Two further Clara drawings were used – but now in color – for his Colored Animal Kingdom published from 1754 on: Clara sprawled to the left – contrary to the original as severely criticized by Thienemann with second horn added by the master’s sons – and present Clara, leaping:

“ It is quite a well-made representation, leaping , and excellently colored . It is a pity it is so little known and used for scientific works ” (Thienemann 1856).

According to Rieke-Müller

the  one  and  only  rhinoceros  of  the  18th  century  on  the  European  continent

and in line with its scientific rank,

Ridinger’s  rhinoceros

is  in  all  her  varieties  thematically  as  artistically

a  highly  sought-after  collector’s  item .

Portrayed  and  adequately  available  here  then  as


Offer no. 15,869 / price on application

Ridinger’s Colored Animal Kingdom in Original Coloring

available in

A Great Plenitude of Individual Plates


An Absolutely Exceptional Complete Provenance Copy

  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)