Ridinger produced a series of 20 prints of fables, originally published in 1744. 18th Century Enlightenment thought took a great interest in the arts as a means of moral improvement. Satirical prints illustrating cautionary tales were popular, such as William Hogarth’s illustrations of “The Rake’s Progress” (1735). Ridinger’s work in this genre focused on the rich tradition of animal fables, which were especially suited to his artistic skills and interests.
In Malicious flattery is finally disclosed and defeated, the scene is the room of a wealthy man and the drama is enacted by his pets: two dogs, a monkey, a tomcat, and a parrot, who is the man’s cherished favorite. The greedy tomcat attempts to lure the parrot from its cage, so that he may capture and feast upon it. The monkey scolds the cat for his malice and ingratitude toward the man of the house and the two faithful dogs attempt to chase the cat away. When the man discovers what happened, the tomcat meets his demise.
Drunkenness Leads to Foolishness shows woodland animals who were guests at the celebration of a respectable squirrel couple in the forest. Little by little, they became drunk, and those who haven’t passed out are shown engaged in ridiculous behavior, especially the bear, who is wearing a shepherd’s hat. The bear asks the weasel, “Am I not very much larger than you?” The weasel, who was not at the party, and therefore is the only one who is sober, replies, “However great your body is compared to mine, so is your foolishness.”
Johann Elias Ridinger was a German painter, engraver, draughtsman and publisher. His training included depictions of animals, especially horses, as well as copies of earlier masters. He spent a three-year period in Regensburg where he made many visits to the riding school, which proved decisive for his development. After 1723, he founded an art publishing house, selling prints that he himself designed and engraved: series on hunting, definitions of breeds of horses, illustrated lessons for riding and war-horses, depictions of wild animals and of zoological abnormalities. Ridinger produced at least 1,600 engraved, etched and scratched sheets showing the characteristic postures of animals in the landscape. In 1759 Ridinger became director of the Augsburg Stadtakademie (school of art). After his death his sons continued to run the publishing house. His most popular series–such as this one– continued to be reprinted until well into the 19th Century, and were also adapted to other media, such as wall decoration, porcelain and ceramics.
Condition: Generally very good with the usual light toning, soiling soft creases. Few short marginal tears, neatly restored.
“Johann Elias Ridinger.” Grove Dictionary of Art. 2000. http://www.artnet.com/library/07/0720/T072055.asp. (11 August 2006).
“Ridinger-Niemeyer präsentiert Thienemann Online.” Ridinger-Niemeyer. http://www.ridinger.de/th/th047.htm (11 August 2006).