Anglomania (Part 2): Federico Mazzucchelli witness and critic of the “British Fashion”

James Seymour, A Horseman Galloping, uncertain date © Tate Modern Gallery - Londra

James Seymour, A Horseman Galloping, uncertain date
© Tate Modern Gallery – Londra

by Giovanni Battista Tomassini

In the first part of this article we saw that, in the eighteenth century, a growing interest in the British institutions and culture spread throughout Europe. This trend also involved the equestrian field. “English equitation” became fashionable and interest in horse racing and country riding raised. So much so that in the nineteenth century English clothing, harnesses and horses became de rigueur among the continental enthusiasts.

Since at least the seventeenth century, the different morphological features of English horses and their use in racing and hunting in the countryside stimulated, in England, the evolution of a different way of riding in comparison with the other countries of Europe, where the academic style was still prevalent. The most evident innovation was the introduction of the rising trot, which was exactly called the “English trot”. This came together with a seat with shorter stirrups and a slightly forward position of the upper body. This technique also required different tools: starting from the flat saddle, with low pommel and cantle, and the bridoon, which in many cases was associated with a curb bit with shorter shanks than the one in use in academic riding, attached to a second rein.

Filippo Palizzi, Cavaliere al trotto, datazione incerta La moda inglese portò alla diffusione in tut'Europa del trotto sollevato Galleria dell'Accademia di Belle Arti di Napoli

The “English trot” spread in Europe since the second half of the eighteenth century
Filippo Palizzi, Trotting horseman, Eigtheenth century
Galleria dell’Accademia di Belle Arti di Napoli

The spreading of this new way of riding in the “English style”, even in continental Europe, ignited lively debates which, in many ways, resembles the diatribes that real, or supposed “innovations” in equestrianism, stir up even today. For example, we can compare it to the dispute that now divides supporters and opponents of so-called “natural horsemanship”. Even in the case of “English riding”, between the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, practitioners and horse lovers were divided between enthusiasts and absolute opponents. We find an interesting testimony of this controversy in a chapter of Federico Mazzucchelli’s book Scuola equestre (Equestrian School, 1805), entitled Avvertimenti sul modo di cavalcare all’inglese e sulle corse praticate in Inghilterra (Remarks on how to ride in the English style and about the horse races practiced in England).

Mazzucchelli begins his argument noting that this way of riding “which today is very fashionable […] produces many reasons of disagreements and issues. There is no person, even ignorant of horse riding, who has not his particular way of considering it” (MAZZUCCHELLI, 1805, Volume II, p. 285). In short, the debate did not involve only experts, but the new fashion was so widespread and popular that even those who were “ignorant of horse riding,” had their own opinion about it. With great, good sense, Mazzucchelli distinguishes between a proper way of “riding in the English style” and a wrong way, which, as unfortunately it often happens, was predominant because it was the easier way.

The same thing happens also in England, where those who are good [riders] are not many, and indeed they can be pointed out among all the others and deservedly exalted. There [in England] the number of riders is infinite, and an easy way, suited to those who have no skills, or who do not want to learn, is widespread. In Europe, this way is fatally believed worthy of imitation, as if it was the best of that school. Instead that is not but the manner of common people, who are ignorant of these interesting gymnastics. (MAZZUCCHELLI, 1805, Volume II, p. 285)

James Seymour, A Bay Racehorse with Jockey Up, ca 1730 Yale Center for British Art

James Seymour, A Bay Racehorse with Jockey Up, ca 1730
Yale Center for British Art

Mazzucchelli says that the English technique is particularly suited for riding in the countryside and at the races, but it is especially necessary because of the characteristics of English horses. The author does not seem to appreciate them, while he prefers the breeds traditionally used in academic riding, Andalusians and Barbs, but he liked also Arabs. He considers English horses rather unsuited to the typical collected gaits of academic exercises. For this reason he believes

that the education of this quadruped, destined to racing and hunting, will be directed to instruct him to the extended trot in the open field, and supported with long working sessions. The disciplines which tend to collection would be inopportune; therefore the lesson which is said “to bend [collect] a horse”, which makes the horse sensitive to the legs and able to perform two track movements like half-pass and pirouettes, would be unworkable. So it all comes down to a negligent walk, a low but active and violent trot; to an ordinary and full speed canter, either right or left at random. (MAZZUCCHELLI, 1805, Volume II, p. 286)

Traduci Baucher eseguì le più sofisticate arie di scuola con cavalli inglesi Baucher performed the most sophisticated school airs with English horses M. L. Heirauld, François Baucher riding Partisan, cantering backwards From F. Baucher, Souvenirs équestres, Paris, Manège Baucher et Pellier, 1840.

Baucher performed the most sophisticated
school airs with English horses
M. L. Heirauld, François Baucher riding Partisan, cantering backwards
From F. Baucher, Souvenirs équestres, Paris, Manège Baucher et Pellier, 1840.

This was a far too severe opinion, which was clearly vitiated by a prejudice. In the nineteenth century, in fact, English horses will be used with amazing results also in academic riding, and will prove to be capable (with riders of the caliber of François Baucher, or James Fillis) of very sophisticated exercises. Instead Mazzucchelli considers them rather hard horses, heavy on the hand, and on which it is impossible to support the elegant seat of academic riders. According to him, they could only be ridden while posting the trot and leaning forward. For this reason, he considers ridiculous the idea of combining the English and the academic styles, which in his opinion are completely incompatible.

Nevertheless, even Mazzucchelli admits that, with suitable horses, it is possible, and necessary, to use the new technique. He then outlines the ideal portrait of the “good English rider.”

He is determined in going forward, perfectly leading the horse, using the bridoon; and as light as a feather and in perfect balance, more on the stirrups than on the saddle, quite leaning forward, and with the left shoulder more forward than the right, he accompanies the energetic movement of the trot, gracefully rising, at the right time, avoiding the shock and pushing the horse in the momentum. (MAZZUCCHELLI, 1805, Volume II, p. 287)

George Stubbs, Otho, with John Larkin up , ca 1768 © Tate Modern Gallery - Londra

George Stubbs, Otho, with John Larkin up , ca 1768
© Tate Modern Gallery – Londra

According to Mazzucchelli the ideal English horse should be:

quite tall; of light and slender shape; courageous, fast and enduring; strong in the extended trot, so that the movement on the horizontal line is resolute and fast. (MAZZUCCHELLI, 1805, Volume II, p. 288)

English horses were prized for their height John Wotton, The Hon. John Spencer beside a Hunter held by a Young Boy, 1733-6 © Tate Modern Gallery - Londra

English horses were prized for their height
John Wotton, The Hon. John Spencer beside a Hunter
held by a Young Boy, 1733-6
© Tate Modern Gallery – Londra

He says that he also rode in England, following the dictates of this technique, and that this gave him “a very pleasant sensation:”

The surroundings of London, the movement, the wealth, the industry, the beautiful roads scoured so quickly, produce a singular meeting of pleasures, that you can hardly find together in other places. This is another kind of horse riding, another kind of delight. It almost seems that the rider is ravished and transported by fast wings, and dealing almost nothing with his horse, he is revived by the rapid change of the objects surrounding him, so many, and so different from each other. (MAZZUCCHELLI, 1805, Volume II, p. 289)

Although clearly influenced by his preference for the academic tradition, Mazzucchelli’s opinion of the English style proves to be quite balanced and clearly demonstrates the evolution of equestrian techniques between the eighteenth and the nineteenth centuries. An evolution determined by complex factors which highlights the rich network of relationships and mutual influences that links horse riding to our culture.

As it is shown by this beautiful plate of his treatise, Mazzucchelli preferred the classical academic style Basilio Lasinio, Riding School, in MAZZUCCHELLI, 1805

As it is shown by this beautiful plate of his treatise,
Mazzucchelli preferred the classical academic style
Basilio Lasinio, Riding School,
in MAZZUCCHELLI, 1805

Bibliography

MAZZUCCHELLI, Federigo,  Scuola equestre, Milano, presso Gio Pietro Giegler, Libraio sulla Corsia de’ Servi, 1805.

The new Equestrian Art Library in Queluz, Portugal

11_Livro_Biblioteca_de_Arte_Equestre_creditos_PSML_Wilson_Pereira

Picture © PSML – Wilson Pereira

by Giovanni Battista Tomassini

Perhaps some of you may think that this is a place just for scholars or old-fashioned professors’ stuff. But the Equestrian Art Library “Dom Diogo de Bragança, VIIII Marques de Marialva”, which was inaugurated one month ago in the National Palace of Queluz, near Lisbon, is quite a different matter.

First of all, it is a charming place for anyone who loves horses and equestrian culture. Set up at the first floor of the “Portuguese Versailles”, the library is housed in three wonderfully bright, large halls, overlooking the palace gardens. It is here that the beautiful collection of books dedicated to horseback riding, which belonged to Dom Diogo de Bragança (1930-2012), one of the most significant figures of the modern Portuguese equestrian milieu, was recently relocated to and opened to the public. There are more than 1,400 works, some of which are quite rare and precious. But above all, the visitor will be thrilled by the many original engravings of equestrian subjects which are on display. There is no need to be an expert to be stunned by their beauty. The eyes of horse lovers will easily recognize the originals of many very famous pictures published in books of equestrian topics worldwide. Like the beautiful eighteenth-century engravings by Johann Elias Ridinger (1698-1767), or the famous portrait of the General Hotte, riding Laruns. And then etchings by Goya and Velasquez, and even the beautiful plate representing the use of long reins from Federico Mazzucchelli’s Scuola equestre (Equestrian School, 1805). In short, a real feast for the eyes and for the mind.

The library overlooks the gardens of the Palace of Queluz

The library overlooks the gardens of the Palace of Queluz
Picture © Carlos Pombo

Descending from one of the families of highest and more ancient lineage of Portugal, Diogo de Bragança was a man with a refined culture, a passionate horse lover and a great rider. He was a friend of Nuno Oliveira, who considered him one of his best students. He did not just collect books, but he was himself the author of several works dedicated to horseback riding, among which stands out L’équitation de tradition française (1976, now available also in English under the title Dressage in the French Tradition, Xenophon Press, 2012), in which he analyzed the close relationship between the Portuguese and the French equestrian tradition. Throughout his life he picked up, with curiosity and expertise, books and manuscripts about horsemanship, ranging from the sixteenth century to the present day. After his death, this heritage was in danger of being divided and sold. With great foresight, the company Parques de Sintra – Monte da Lua, SA, which manages the monuments of Sintra and the Portuguese School of Equestrian Art, decided to buy the collection from the heirs. A choice felt by the company’s chairman, António Ressano Garcia Lamas, almost like a “national duty”, which required a significant investment (€ 468,750 in total), which was made possible also by the support of the Calouse Gulbekian Foundation and of the Banco Português de Investimento.

Tra gli esemplari più pregiati, spicca una magnifica copia del volume

Among the finest specimens, stands a magnificent copy of the book
“Equile Ioannis Austriaci” (1578) by Jan Van der Straet

Some perfectly preserved antique editions stand out in the catalog. Such as the volume Equile Ioannis austriaci (Antwerp, 1578), containing the portraits of the horses of different breeds present in the stables of the governor of Flanders Don Juan of Austria (1547-78), son of Emperor Charles V. They were made by the painter Jan Van der Straet, in the second half of the sixteenth century. The work is very interesting, because it shows the different types of horses used during the Renaissance.

Alcune opere di grande formato sono esposte in apposite teche

Some large-format books are appropriately exhibited in special showcases
Picture © PSML – Wilson Pereira

Some large-format books from the collection are appropriately exhibited in special showcases, located in the halls of the library. In particular, the beauty of the illustrations and of the bindings of two of them, leave the visitor breathless. One is the famous volume that reproduces, with magnificent engravings, the costumes, the horses trappings and the choreography of the great carousel held in Paris, in 1662, under the reign of Louis XIV, to celebrate the birth of the Grand Dauphin (Courses de testes et de bague faittes par le roy et par les princes seigneurs et de sa cour en l’année 1662, Paris, 1670). The other is the monumental edition of Philippe Etienne Lafosse’s Cours d’hippiatrique (Paris, 1772), illustrated with sixty-seven engravings, most of which are hand-colored. It is a true editorial masterpiece. And then, the most famous Portuguese equestrian treatise could not be missed. We are talking about Luz da liberal and nobre arte da Cavallaria, by Carlos Manuel de Andrade (Lisbon, 1790), decorated with wonderful plates. This is the text that inspires the Portuguese School of Equestrian Art, which has its headquarters in the gardens of the Palace of Queluz. In this treatise, the fourth Marquis of Marialva, who was regarded as the greatest rider of his time, is often mentioned as an example. So much so that, in Portugal, the high school dressage is still called “the art of Marialva”. He was an ancestor of Dom Diogo de Bragança who was the eighth Marquis of Marialva.

Moltissime le stampe di argomento equestre esposte nelle sale, tra le quali le bellissimi incisioni Johann Elias Ridinger (1698-1767)

There are many beautiful engravings of equestrian topic, displayed in the halls,
including those by Johann Elias Ridinger (1698-1767)
Picture © PSML – Wilson Pereira

Being a lover of books, I’m tempted to keep on listing the many beautiful volumes kept in this library, but I don’t want to annoy my readers. Anyone who is interested will soon be able to consult the catalog of the Library on line (we will provide you notice when it becomes available) and then discover a treasure trove of bibliographic information and a significant opportunity for research. It is time that not only riding enthusiasts, but also professional historians,  can begin to study the equestrian culture in a systematic and scientifically reliable way. By doing this, they will soon discover that the history of horsemanship is a fundamental chapter of the history of our civilization which cannot be limited to the field of material culture, but that has deeply influenced the imagery and the ideological orientation of the European, Muslim and Asian cultures. A specialized library with such a rich collection of books is an opportunity not to be missed by researchers all around the world.

Il marchese di Marialva, antenato di Dom Diogo de Bragança, in una stampa del trattato di Manoel Carlos de Andrade (1790)

The Marquis of Marialva, ancestor of Dom Diogo de Bragança, in a plate of
Manoel Carlos de Andrade’s treatise, “Luz da liberal e nobre arte da cavallaria” (1790)
Picture © PSML – Wilson Pereira

The Library stands alongside the Portuguese School of Equestrian Art, the riding Academy that for over thirty years has picked up the baton of the Portuguese equestrian tradition, becoming its most recognizable and influential representative in the world. A vital synergy is thus established between these two institutions, destined to arouse the admiration of all those who love the noble art of horseback riding.

In short, there is now one more reason to visit the splendid Palace of Queluz and then discover that a library is not at all the dusty mausoleum of a mummified erudition, but it is a living and adventurous place.

La Biblioteca è strettamente collegata alla Scuola Portoghese d'Arte Equestre

The library is closely linked to the Portuguese School of Equestrian Art
(picture: Rui Almeida and Que-Jeito performing a beautiful cabriole)
Picture © PSML – Pedro Yglesias

_______________________________________________________________________
The Equestrian Art Library of Diogo de Bragança, 8th Marquis of Marialva National Palace of Queluz
Opening times: Monday – Friday, 9.30am – 1pm and 2pm – 5.30pm
Entrance fees:
Researchers and academics: free (subject to prior reservation at sandra.oliveira@parquesdesintra.pt)
General public: National Palace of Queluz entrance ticket

An encounter that never occurred. Baucher and Mazzucchelli

Giuseppe de Nittis, A ride along the Avenue des Champs-Elysées , 1874 (private collection)

Giuseppe de Nittis, A ride along the Avenue des Champs-Elysées , 1874 (private collection)

by Giovanni Battista Tomassini

In 1948, the General Albert Decarpentry published a famous biography of the greatest French horseman of the nineteenth century, François Baucher. Speaking of his early years, Decarpentry said that Baucher did his riding apprenticeship in Italy following an uncle who was in charge of the stables of Prince Camillo Borghese. In this regard, Decarpentry suggests that, during that period, the curiosity of the young Frenchman may have been attracted by the teaching of the Italian rider Federico Mazzucchelli that, he said, at that time, “practised” at an unidentified Academy in Milan. On the other hand, he properly takes care to clarify immediately the nature of this speculative argument, concluding: «Nothing can, however, say that he may have received his teaching and if the birth of his talent was affected by that, we do not know to what extent» (Decarpentry, 1948, p. 14.).

François Baucher riding Partisan

François Baucher riding Partisan

What was formulated only as an hypothesis was, however, soon turned into a certainty by many historians of equitation. This is the case, for example, of André Monteilhet, who speaking of Mazzucchelli, writes: «The work of Mazzucchelli, easy to read and very well designed in itself, has a very special interest when you know that the teacher was long observed by a modest French teenager named François Baucher …» (Monteilhet, 1979, p. 207). A quick web search will convince you that the idea that Baucher was a pupil of Mazzucchelli has spread and is now accepted as certain by many.

Descendant of one of the most prominent families from Brescia, the younger son of the Earl Gianmaria, Federico Mazzucchelli was born in 1747. He studied in Rome, showing even in those early years his passion for riding horses. At a later age he was an ardent Jacobin, so that in May 1794, he was arrested leaving the city theater, on charges of having participated to political meetings. He was sentenced to remain imprisoned in the Castle of San Felice until the end of September. The prison, however, did not discourage his political passion. Three years later, while Napoleon was approaching, he signed as chairman of the Supervisory and Police Committee, a proclamation to all peoples of the free Italy, in which was extolled the unity of an Italian Republic, that the naive young noble hoped would be realized with the help of Bonaparte. The story would soon completely disillusion him. He resigned from all political functions and returned to his beloved horses. In 1802, he published in Milan, a work entitled Elementi di cavallerizza (Elements of Riding), then reprinted and expanded in 1805, with the title of Scuola equestre (Riding School), with beautiful copper engravings representing the riding exercises, carried out by the workshop of the brothers Bordiga, from the designs of Basilio Lasinio.

Federico Mazzucchelli and his horse Stornello (from Scuola Equestre)

Federico Mazzucchelli and his horse Stornello
(from Scuola Equestre)

It is evident that Decarpentry made his conjecture about a possible encounter with Baucher on the basis of the place of publication of the Mazzucchelli’s book, which he knew quite superficially, and not on the basis of any document which proves the encounter between the Italian horseman and the young French apprentice and, indeed, ignoring Mazzucchelli’s biography. Since at the beginning of the nineteenth century, an Italian rider published in Milan, a book dedicated to academic equitation, Decarpentry simply considered it likely that he resided in Milan and that he held there a riding school. Relying on the curiosity of the young Baucher, he hypothesized that he could be attracted by that riding academy. Far more serious is the error of those who later took this conjecture as an historical truth without verifying its foundation.

In fact, the encounter between Baucher and Mazzucchelli could not have taken place simply because, at the time of the young Frenchman’s stay in Milan in 1810, the Earl Federico Mazzucchelli from Brescia was already dead for five years. As it is written in his obituary which appeared in the “Giornale dell’Italiana letteratura” (Journal of the Italian Literature) of Padua: «Passionately devoted to his art, he died in the very act of exercising it, since being hit by a fierce apoplectic accident while he was riding, he left the life in the same riding arena in January 28, 1805, with pain of his friends and of every educated person that knew him». (ANONYMOUS, 1805, p. 282.).

Incisione da la Scuola Equestre di Federico Mazzucchelli (1805)

Mazzucchelli’s work is considered the first one illustrating the “long reins” technique

Bibliography:

AGLIARDI, Danilo, La famiglia, in AA. VV., Villa Mazzucchelli. Arte e storia di una dimora del Settecento, Cinisello Balsamo, Silvana Editoriale, 2008, pp. 11-47.

ANONIMO Necrologia: notizie di Federico Mazzucchelli, in “Giornale dell’Italiana letteratura”, Volume 10, 1805. pp. 281-282.

DECARPENTRY, Albert, Baucher et son école, Paris, Lamarre, 1948.FILIPPINI, Nadia Maria, Donne sulla scena politica: dalle Municipalità del 1797 al Risorgimento, in AA. VV., Donne sulla scena pubblica: società e politica in Veneto tra Sette e Ottocento, a cura di N.M. Filippini, Milano, Franco Angeli, 2006, pp. 81-137.

MAZZUCCHELLI, Federigo, Elementi di cavallerizza, Milano, presso Pietro Agnelli librajo-stampatore in S. Margarita, 1802 (nuova edizione con il titolo Scuola equestre, Milano, presso Gio Pietro Giegler, Libraio sulla Corsia de’ Servi, 1805).

MONTEILHET, André, Les Maîtres de l’oeuvre équestre, Arles, Actes Sud, 1979 (nuova ed. 2009).

PECO, Luigi, I Bordiga: Benedetto e Gaudenzio Bordiga, incisori e incisori-cartografi, Borgosesia, Valsesia Editrice, 1998.

Federico Mazzucchelli

Federico Mazzucchelli and his horse Stornello (from Scuola Equestre)

Federico Mazzucchelli and his horse Stornello
(from Scuola Equestre)

by Giovanni Battista Tomassini

Descendant of one of the most prominent families from Brescia, the younger son of the Earl Gianmaria, Federico was born in 1747. He studied in Rome, showing even in those early years his passion for riding horses. Dating back to that period, is a letter he addressed to his father complaining that, due to riding continuously, all of his trousers were consumed. He then prayed his father to give provision to the leather dealer to bring different sets of trousers in black leather. At a later age he was an ardent Jacobin, so that in May 1794, he was arrested leaving the city theater, on charges of having participated to political meetings. Together with Carlo Arici (who called himself ex-noble), Mazzucchelli was in fact the most resolute leader of Jacobin coterie, which met in Brescia in the circle named Good Friends. He was sentenced to remain imprisoned in the Castle of San Felice until the end of September. The prison, however, did not discourage his political passion. Three years later, while Napoleon was approaching, he signed as chairman of the Supervisory and Police Committee, a proclamation to all peoples of the free Italy, in which was extolled the unity of an Italian Republic, that the naive young noble hoped would be realized with the help of Bonaparte. The story would soon completely disillusion him. He resigned from all political functions and returned to his beloved horses. In 1802, he published in Milan, a work entitled Elementi di cavallerizza (Elements of Riding), then reprinted and expanded in 1805, with the title of Scuola equestre (Riding School), with beautiful copper engravings representing the riding exercises, carried out by the workshop of the brothers Bordiga, from the designs of Basilio Lasinio.He died in 1805. Even his death was in the sign of equitation since, as it is written in his obituary which appeared in the “Giornale dell’Italiana Letteratura” (Journal of the Italian Literature) of Padua, that he died while he was riding: «Passionately devoted to his art, he died in the very act of exercising it, since being hit by a fierce apoplectic accident while he was riding, he left the life in the same riding arena in January 28, 1805, with pain of his friends and of every educated person that knew him». (ANONYMOUS, 1805, p. 282.).

Bibliography:

AGLIARDI, Danilo, La famiglia, in AA. VV., Villa Mazzucchelli. Arte e storia di una dimora del Settecento, Cinisello Balsamo, Silvana Editoriale, 2008, pp. 11-47.

ANONYMOUS, Necrologia: notizie di Federico Mazzucchelli, in “Giornale dell’Italiana letteratura”, Volume 10, 1805. pp. 281-282.

FILIPPINI, Nadia Maria, Donne sulla scena politica: dalle Municipalità del 1797 al Risorgimento, in AA. VV., Donne sulla scena pubblica: società e politica in Veneto tra Sette e Ottocento, a cura di N.M. Filippini, Milano, Franco Angeli, 2006, pp. 81-137.

PECO, Luigi, I Bordiga: Benedetto e Gaudenzio Bordiga, incisori e incisori-cartografi, Borgosesia, Valsesia Editrice, 1998.