Wednesday, March 25, 2020

18C Woman on Horseback

 1793  George Stubbs (English artist, 1724-1806) Laetitia, Lady Lade on Horseback

Around 1159-1213 in the Nicetas Choniates, O City of Byzantium, Annals of Nicetas Choniates, translator Harry J. Magoulias tells us that “Females were numbered among them, riding horseback in the manner of men, not on coverlets sidesaddle but unashamedly astride, and bearing lances and weapons as men do; dressed in masculine garb, they conveyed a wholly martial appearance, more mannish than the Amazons."

 Women in the 18C were expected to present themselves as very feminine, and riding was thought to enhance their charm and femininity. “Riding contributes much to the improvement of a young lady, and displays her beauty” (Anonymous. The Young Gentleman and Lady Instructed in such Principles of Politeness, Prudence, and Virtue,… Vol. II.  London, 1747, 110).

In London, the Morning Post reported on March 3, 1778: “a German Lady who dresses, and rides, en cavalier, has for several days past attracted the attenion of the beaux and belles in Hyde-park. She is well mounted, takes her morning rides without any attendant, and leaps over the different bars in the park with all imaginable coolness and resolution.”