La Belle Assemblée, March 1807.
“A French Lady on Horseback in the fashionable stile of riding in the Long Champs d’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.”
(This is one of the few times when the date at the bottom of the print is the actual date of this magazine’s issue. Normally, prints are dated at the bottom for the following month. To be consistent on this site, the prints from all magazines are always dated based on the provenance at the bottom.)
This print is interesting in its details. The “elastic strap” either holds her on the horse or perhaps merely holds her habit in place. The short jacket has no peplum, which is unusual. Every other print of a riding habit in my collection that shows the jacket from the back or side shows a peplum.
The gold buttons descending from the high waist outline the skirt pockets. As one would not carry a reticule while riding, old-fashioned pockets were required.
The hat is a jockey cap, styled to resemble a jockey’s racing cap, with ornamentation on the brim to provide a bit of femininity. Made of the same material as the habit, the cap was a part of the whole ensemble and would not have been worn with any other habit.
The print is described in the magazine as follows:
“Represents a Parisian lady, mounted in the most fashionable style, for the Long Champs and Elysées, 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.”
Not to put too fine a point on it, but this print appeared earlier in the French magazine Journal des Dames et des Mode, so the original drawing was not “taken on the spot” for La Belle Assemblée, but was engraved for La Belle Assemblée from the other publication’s original drawing in their January 15, 1805 issue, as seen below. I do like the La Belle Assemblée artist’s addition of the lady galloping in the background.
Several French prints show equestriennes on horseback, but no original British prints do. This same French print was also copied by the British magazine Fashions of London and Paris in their March 1805 issue, but it was clearly identified as “Costume Parisien.”