Illustrations of well-dressed ladies enjoying genteel sports, such as this lithograph on linen, accompanied a rise in popularity of sports participation among women during the final third of the 19th century. After the Civil War elite women in the U.S., who had more time and energy for leisure pursuits than working-class women, began to participate more actively in croquet, archery, and tennis.
In the 1880s and 1890s upper-class women increasingly explored other physical sports such as horseback riding, bowling, rowing, canoeing, yachting, and skating. Towards the end of the century, as the growing demand for female emancipation was leading up to the acquisition of voting rights for women, even bicycling and golf became possible pursuits for women. (For additional historical details see “Women, sport and exercise in the 19th century” by Patricia Vertinsky in Women & Sport – Interdisciplinary Perspectives edited by D. M. Costa & S. Guthrie, 1994).
This lithograph captures the spirit of the sporting woman at the turn of the 20th century. She resembles a “Gibson Girl,” a stereotyped look popularized by the magazine illustrator Charles Dana Gibson from 1890 through about 1910. Like the woman in this lithograph, Gibson Girls were always impeccably dressed, attractive, confident, and somewhat athletic (en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gibson_Girl). Similarly, this woman with her hair piled high, an hour-glass figure and fashionable clothing, projects enough confidence to steer her own boat, while still conveying appropriate social respectability.
We framed this print in a circa 1900 gold bead lined oak frame (~ 27” square) befitting its time period.
We have had several similar woman sporting pillow covers over the years which were likewise kept in storage or framed and never made into pillows. The following examples help put into context the one in our current inventory for anyone considering starting a collection or simply interested in knowing more about this genre.Keep Reading