I see hundreds of items arriving in the store every week, and one of the great joys of my work is the research that goes into pricing the items. I always get to learn just a little bit about what the items are, where they came from, and what they mean to people. There is always a little something to learn about history, commerce, industry, and production. Sometimes though, I dig a little deeper to learn just a little bit more about the uncommon gifts, rare collectibles, resale junk and fine art that passes through the doors of Good Find Stores and share it with you in a blog segment I call: What Do You Know About This?
This week’s entry is this beautifully colored print depicting the training techniques of William of Cavendish, which he documented in his book titled “La Methode et Invention Nouvelle de Dresser les Chevaux” and published in 1657. Translated, the title is “The New Method and Invention of Training Horses”.
When this item arrived in the store and I first found the story behind it, my interest was piqued. A few quick searches online revealed the source of the image was from Cavendish, and that this framed work was from a copy of his book on horse training. My inspection suggests this is a replica, and not actual pages from one of the editions published during Cavendish’s lifetime, but there is a visible crease in the middle where the engraved prints would have been folded in making the book. The internet searches also indicated that these images depict the early origins of the sport of dressage. I thought that was pretty interesting and wanted to know more.
So, who is this Cavendish guy? Well, he was born into a super-rich family in 1593. As a rich person, he was, of course, a courtier and awarded a number of government appointments and titles. He was variously a Knight of Bath, Viscount Mansfield, Earl of Newcastle-on-Tyne, and later Marquess and then Duke of Newcastle-on-Tyne.
During the first English civil war Cavendish fought as a loyalist to the crown. He had significant military responsibility and it appears that he fought a number of engagements to victory, but he was defeated in a battle at Marston Moor in July 1644, sort of in the middle of the war, and exiled himself to Germany.
In his post-war life he put his energy toward poetry and the arts, buy primarily he loved his horses and set about documenting the training and techniques he had used with his war horses. Although accounts of his actual soldiering don’t exactly cloak Cavendish in glory, he seems to have been very respected as a horseman. His cruelty-free training techniques were influential among the great horse masters of the time, and his methods are credited with the development of the modern sport of dressage.
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