This coloured engraving after a work by Johann Elias Ridinger illustrates an example of a formal dressage exercise. According to the French, German and Latin lettering beneath the image, it shows the horse ‘Reculer à la Muraille’, with its back to the wall. In this image the balanced tension between rider and horse, required to achieve the necessary control and showmanship, is apparent.
In 1839 bookseller and publisher James Bohn of London listed in his catalogue a nine volume publication titled ‘Ridinger Opere’, which he described as ‘a collection of seven hundred and forty-five very spirited engravings, by Jos. Elias Ridinger’, priced at £52 and 10 shillings. The plates included images of birds and animals, both wild and tame, and hunting or equestrian scenes. The first part of the final volume, on the ‘Art of Equitation’ (or horsemanship), had text in both French and German and may have included this image.
Animal painter and engraver Johann Elias Ridinger was born in Ulm, Germany. He began his training in 1712, under painter Christopher Resch (active 1701¬-16). Four years later he continued his studies in Augsburg, where he worked with painter Johann Falch (1687-1727), producing equestrian works and images of wild animals and game. He later spent three years at Regensburg, sketching horses at the riding school. After returning to Augsburg, he learnt the techniques of engraving and printing, eventually establishing an art publishing business. In 1759 he became Director of the Academy of Art in Augsburg. After his death, the publishing business was continued by his sons, Martin and Johann Jakob.
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