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Johann Elias Ridinger, Dance Macabre

Johann Elias Ridinger (Ulm 1698 – Augsburg 1767). Dance Macabre. Circular chain dance of nine women & skeletons around opened casket with two skeletons within and without the churchyard wall as centerpiece. In addition to it, placed back, chapel & charnel-house (?) along with walls. In the corners the Fall of Man – Golgotha – Eternal life & Purgatory , between two text-cartouches. In the outer field surrounded by 12 medallions together with text-cartouches for the dance of the men, separated by 8 (6 varying) vanitas attributes. Mezzotint by Johann Jacob Ridinger (1736 Augsburg 1784). Inscribed: Ioh. Iacob Ridinger sculps. / Ioh. El. Ridinger excud. Aug. Vindel., otherwise as following. 25¾ × 18⅞ in (65.3 × 48 cm).

Th.-Stillfried + Schwarz 1428; Silesian Ridinger collection at Boerner XXXIX, 2032 ( “Extremely rare”, 1885 ! ).

Illustration in L’Art Macabre 2, Yearbook of the European Dance Macabre Society, Dusseldorf 2001, within the contribution here “The Vanitas Symbolism with Joh. El. Ridinger”.

State II (of II?) as the copy in the Staatliche Graphische Sammlung Munich, too. – The copies Stillfried + Schwarz, Boerner and that of the sale Counts Faber-Castell (1958 as “The great sheet of Dance Macabre / Main sheet”) not fixable in their states based on their descriptions. However, the one presented by Patrick Pollefeys on the internet proves to be the earlier, currently suppoesedly first state.

Not in Thienemann and in Dresden, missing in the ample stocks of Weigel (1857) , Coppenrath (1889/90) , Wawra (1890) , 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 plus 470 duplicates + 20 drawings) , Hamminger (1895) , Helbing (1900) , Rosenthal (1940) , and others more.

Typographic & figurative watermark. – Above and on the right fine small margin almost throughout, on the left and below predominantly trimmed on the platemark here 1.5 cm wide anyhow. – Upper half laid by old onto wide-margined laid paper per corner-montage, one of which loosened, causing a repaired tear. Practically not impeding centerfold.

The very fine copy in respect of printing + condition from a cultivated collection of nuanced chiaroscuro in all parts. And in such a way of greatest rarity not only on the market, as documented above, but in general. And indeed already in 1675 the expert von Sandrart numbered “neat impressions” of the velvety mezzotint at only “50 or 60 (!). After that, however, the image acquires polish soon for it does not go deep into the copper”.

The texts of the cartouches each time in Latin & German versions. – In the centerpiece between Calvary & Eternal life “Christ’s death has ruined death and returned life” & below between Fall of Man & Purgatory “Death and eternal hellish pain has brought about the sin alone”. – The outer field presents clockwise from 1-12 the stations of the social structure of the great hundrum of the end, in the course of which the status symbols lie disrespectfully on the earth. Only the fool has been left cap and bells and the right grips the wand.

Offer no. 28,933 / price on application