Cavendish’s exposition on the theory and practice of equestrian dressage was first published in Antwerp by Jacques Van Meurs as La Methode et Invention Nouvelle de Dresser Les Chevaux (1657-58) (a rare work, only about 50 are said to have been published). It was reissued in London, in 1667, 1737 (J. Brindley publisher, second edition), and 1743 (J. Brindley, publisher), under English and/or French titles and texts, including A New Method and Extraordinary Invention to Dress Horses (Methode et Invention Nouvelle de Dresser Les Chevaux) and A General System of Horsemanship in All Its Branches.
The Duke’s work contains over 40 remarkable engravings of dressage, based on illustrations by Flemish painter Abraham van Diepenbeeck and titled in French. Some of the images show the Duke of Newcastle training horses and performing various feats of horsemanship at his estates at Welbeck Abbey and Bolsover Castle — two great British country houses that can still be visited today. He is also shown riding on the grounds of Bothal Castle (also known as Ogle Castle) in Northumberland, which he inherited from his maternal grandfather. Other engravings in the set show various aspects of horse movement and training in multiple images against simple backgrounds. Additional images show horses roaming free on the estates, implements of horse riding, etc.
Abraham van Diepenbeeck was a prominent Flemish painter. He was initially tutored by his father in the art of painting on glass, and joined the glass painters guild in Antwerp in 1623. For many years he pursued a successful career in this medium, decorating windows in the cathedral of Antwerp and other churches. Interested in developing his artistry, he made two trips to Italy and one to France. His ambitions to move beyond glass painting led him to join the studio of the great Flemish master Peter Paul Rubens, who became his mentor and friend. Thereafter he worked primarily in oils — painting portraits, mythological scenes and religious subjects. His religious works frequently have a highly mystical character. Diepenbeeck was brought to England by King Charles I. While there, he was hired by William Cavendish, 1st Duke of Newcastle-upon-Tyne, who commissioned various paintings, including ones pertaining to the Duke’s interest in horsemanship. Engravings after works by Diepenbeeck were published in the Duke’s celebrated book on the art of horse riding, first published in Antwerp in 1657-58, where Diepenbeeck spent most of his life and his later years. Today Diepenbeeck’s works are in major art museums throughout Western Europe, including the Louvre.
Condition: Generally very good with the usual light toning, soiling, wear, soft creases. Vertical center fold as issued. Some with faint scattered spotting, printers creases. Some with minor scattered restored abrasions. Some variations in paper tones from one print to another. Some with short tears, chips and/or cracking in margins, restored as professionally backed on Japanese paper, and can generally be matted out when framed. Some with a few short marginal tears, repaired verso with archival tape. Some with page numbers from earlier editions, partly or completely scratched out in the printers plate, as issued in various editions. Margin size varies from print to print (16 x 20.75 inches to 18 x 22.75 inches average approximate overall), but plate marks present on all for uniform matting and framing.
Bénézit, E. Dictionnaire critique et documentaire des Peintres, Sculpteurs, Dessinateurs et Graveurs. France: Librairie Gründ, 1966. Vol. 3, pp. 259-260.
Brunet, J-Ch. Manuel du libraire et de l’amateur de livres. 5th ed. Paris: Firmin didot frères et Cie, 1860-65. 10335.
Catalogue of the Famous Library of the Printed Books, Illuminated: Manuscripts, Autograph Letters and Engravings Collected By Henry Huth. London: Sotheby, Wilkinson & Hodge, 1911–18.
Fitzmaurice. “William Cavendish & Family Bibliography.” Northern Arizona University. http://jan.ucc.nau.edu/~jbf/WCavBiblio.html (27 April 2007).
Nissen, Claus. Die Zoologische Buchillustration: ihre Bibliographie und Geschichte. Stuttgart:1969-78.
Ramsay, Deanna. “Early Dressage Literature to 1800.” Independent Online Booksellers Association. http://www.ioba.org/newsletter/archive/v11/iobanl-dressageto1800-5-03.php (27 April 2007).
Williamson, George C., ed. Bryan’s Dictionary of Painters and Engravers. London: G. Bell and Sons: 1930. Vol. 2, pp. 72-73.