Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Question from Jacqui - Images of Anne Boleyn or Elizabeth riding side saddle


I am looking for a portrait of Anne Boleyn and/or Elizabeth 1st riding side saddle.

The portrait needs to show sufficient detail for me to copy the riding habit to make into a costume I can wear for competing side saddle in.

I hope someone out there can help me!

Kind regards



Anonymous said...

If you are looking for an authentic painted portrait of either woman riding side saddle, one that they actually posed for, I'm afraid you will not find it. Equestrian portraits did not come into vogue until the middle of the next century (the 17th century), and even then they were limited to male military figures and male royalty. I am not aware of any authentic painted portrait of an English woman on horseback pre-dating the 18th or 19th centuries.

I seem to recall seeing a medal that was struck during Elizabeth's reign that depicted her on horse, but she was in quasi-military costume. And because it was a small medal, the detail would be insufficient for your purposes, anyway.

I would suggest renting a DVD of one of the movies about Elizabeth from recent years, such as "Elizabeth" or "The Golden Age," or the mini-series that starred Helen Mirren. Elizabeth is seen on horse in each of those, and the costumes, while not totally accurate, are not too bad. You could perhaps "capture" a few images from them or other similar movies. But do NOT use Showtime's "The Tudors"! The costumes in that were grossly inaccurate ... little more than appalling modern fantasy creations.

I bet we'd all love to see the end result and a photo of you competing in costume!

Anonymous said...

Thanks for this, it explains why I have not been able to find anything so far.

Unfortunately a copy from one of the films wouldn't do as the criteria of the class is to have a copy of, or a reference to your costume source. For example, a portrait or print copy in a book.

Never mind, I'll have to think of an alternative but if I do come up with anything, I'll post a photo!


Foose said...

There is a tapestry cartoon by Bernaert van Orley from 1530 that shows Mencia de Mendoza, a sort of quasi-royal relation of Charles V, riding side-saddle. It's not English but it's the same time period as Anne Boleyn.

Unfortunately, she's wearing what looks like "Spanish dress," something Anne probably would have avoided. There's a photo on this interesting Website and some listed source books, -- but it's tiny, and I haven't been able to see it anywhere else. Perhaps the list of sources might include a book that contains the picture or other ones that might be more useful that you can get from the library.

Lara said...

There is a tiny little image of Elizabeth on horseback in the Tilbury painting (which I believe was done in the 17th century). I've cropped it down to the part with Elizabeth and posted it here:

There is also the woodcut of Elizabeth hunting, and I assume she is wearing a riding habit in that (I'm pretty sure that is supposed to be her horse in the background):

Elizabeth M. said...

The BBC mini-series ELIZABETH R starring Glenda Jackson has some scenes where she is on horseback in a riding habit, and the costumes for that drama were almost as authentic as you can get.

Anonymous said...

Well done Lara!

The Tilbury painting, properly titled "Elizabeth at Tilbury," is apparently still on public display on the north wall of the chancel of St Faith's Church, Gaywood, outside King's Lynn in Norfolk. Susan Frye, a scholar of the Armada period, has dated that painting to probably after 1605. However, the costume worn by Elizabeth appears perfectly accurate for 1588, the year of the Armada.

The engraving of Elizabeth in hunting attire appears on page 133 of "The Booke of Hunting," by George Gascoigne (and sometimes attributed to George Turberville). It was published in 1575 and reissued several times thereafter. Thus the engraving is of Elizabeth in her early 40s and in the first half of her reign.

I think the engraving would be a superb illustraton from which to design a replica of her riding/hunting costume, even though it is not in full color. I think a lively shade of forest green would be appropriate for the kirtle or overskirt and bodice and sleeves, perhaps with a brocaded design featuring plant motifs to suggest a hunting forest, then an underskirt in cloth of gold (gold lame would be the modern equivalent) with russet trim along the hem. The trim of the bodice, sleeves, and hat could also be done with gold lame and russet piping. Of coures, this is just a suggestion ... I tend to get very enthusiastic when it comes to reproducing accurate Tudor-era costumes!

Lara said...

Get that man a sewing machine! :)

It's funny, but I was picturing that hunting outfit in green as well...

BTW, I just happened to remember these images because I've been working on putting together a database of images that will eventually go on the website, so there are about 600 portraits/images (not including my own photos) that I've stared at a lot over the past couple of years!

Anonymous said...

This is all brilliant, thank you all so much!

Beth said...

Hi Jacqui!

Not sure if this is too late a reply!

I ride side saddle, so it's a topic that really interests me. I also recognise your name from the Side Saddle Association.

When at univeristy I did my thesis on Elizabethan costume. I've just had a re-look at the project and the only clear distintive portrait of Elizabeth riding side saddle is by Thomas Cecil, painted in 1625. It's called 'Truth Presents the Queen with a Lance'. It's not the nicest looking costume, thinking about you competing if it's for Concours de'Elegance. She is wearing battle armour.

The other paining I found of women riding is by Joris Hoefnagel 'Panorama of English Society' (1570). I can't work out if the two of the ladies in the portrait are riding side saddle or not, they appear to be.

The most recent Elizabeth films, if I remember correctly, don't have correct side saddles for that particular period. So the costumes won't be that accurate.

Lindsay Smith, side saddle historian, is probably your best bet to contact. I met her the other week and she is a wealth of information on riding habits through the ages.

Good luck! I would love to hear how you get on. There was a tudor riding habit on ebay the other day advertised. I'm still haven't got a riding habit, I keep getting strange looks off people with jodphurs on!