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Portrait of a Lady
This lovely portrait is unsigned and and undated, but the pastel medium leads me to believe that it was created by a female artist, since pastel was an easier and typically feminine medium (and hence was more “acceptable” for women to practice); if it is by a woman, I’m not surprised that there’s no artist’s name. After all, in France’s famous Académie alone,only four women were permitted to be academicians at once - not a very encouraging time to be a female artist!
As for the date, I’m far less certain since riding habits - and this one is glorious - remained relatively unchanged over the decades. If I was better at hats, I could date it from that! Oh, more and more things to learn..
Riding coats, Met Museum, c. 1760 and 1775
Being an equestrian, I am particularly interested in riding habits from past eras. The fashion plate above shows the quintessential habit from the Regency era (this example from 1816). They were frequently made in wools of a darker colour. While reds had been very stylish in the eighteenth century and still enjoyed popularity, navy blue because equally fashionable during the Regency. The habits had influences from masculine garments and military uniforms, as I’m sure you can see. Under the habit, you could see the delicate white cravat. To top it all off (bad joke, I know), there was always a jaunty hat which often had a veil trailing off the back. Don’t forget your gloves and riding crop!
This image, along with many others in my online fashion plate collection, was found at the fabulous New York Public Library’s picture collection.
Riding Habit, LACMA, c. 1780
Lady Worsley by Reynolds, 1780
Marie Antoinette by Krantzinger, c. 1771
Riding Habit, V&A, c. 1770-75
Riding Habit, Met, 1760s
Anne, Princess of Orange after John Simon, 1750s
Sophie Marie Gräfin Voss by Pesne, c. 1746