Tuesday, March 5, 2019

A Good Habit to Emulate

I was so excited to acquire this La Belle Assemblée print! Riding habit prints aren’t all that uncommon (Ackermann did several, as did several of the French journals of the time) but this one is just so much fun: the saturation of the colors, the pose, and the fact that the person wearing the riding habit is, yanno, actually on horseback...!

Let’s look at the details.  The text at the bottom reads:

A French Lady on Horseback in the fashionable stile of Riding in the Long Champs & Elisée at Paris.
Engraven from an original drawing taken on the Spot for La Belle Assemblée.
Or Bell’s Court & Fashionable Magazine for March 1807

The text (from the April 1807 edition) reads Parisian Costume No. 3. Represents a Parisian lady, mounted in the most fashionable style, for the Long Champs and Elisées, at Paris.—An equestrian habit of fine seal-wool cloth, with elastic strap; the colour blue (but olive, or puce, are equally esteemed), with convex buttons of dead gold. The habit to sit high in the neck behind, lapelled in front, and buttoned twice at the small of the waist; a high plaited frill of cambric, uniting at the bosom where the habit closes. A jockey bonnet of the same materials as composes the habit, finished with a band and tuft in front. Hair in dishevelled crop. York tan gloves; and demi-boots of purple kid, laced with jonquil chord.

Isn’t it pretty? Note the long trained skirt (to keep the limbs modestly covered when riding side-saddle, the gold buttons detailing the back of the bodice and along what looks like decorative pockets to the side. The jaunty jockey cap decorated with a flower of the same fabric and the brim curling over the ears (excellent if one is wearing pretty earrings!) and the elegantly severe lapels—all wonderful. I’m also interested by the safety strap, to keep our stylish equestrienne safe in her (not illustrated, oddly enough) saddle. I’m only sorry we don’t get a glimpse of the purple kid demi-boots!

The one point I have to question is the “from an original drawing taken on the spot” part, as there is a basically identical print from an 1805 Journal des Dames et des Modes...but as we have seen before, copyright law as we know it was basically non-existent in the 19th century...

I hope you enjoyed today’s eye candy!

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