- Place of origin:
Lucien Guy (artist)
- Museum number:
- Gallery location:
Prints & Drawings Study Room, level C, case GG, shelf 92
Although fashions during the late 19th and early 20th centuries could be notoriously cumbersome, they did not prevent women from increasingly participating in active sports. Riding had long been acceptable, but in the nineteenth century, women began to take up other active sports, such as golf, yachting and tennis, especially after Wimbledon began hosting women's tennis tournaments in 1884. This drawing, by Lucien Guy, shows an extremely fashionable tennis player in about 1904. Although her dress still has a tight waist, the shirt-waist bodice and ankle-length skirt enable her to move more freely than if she were wearing a more fashionable gown with a trained skirt and tight sleeves.
While fashionable corsetry during this period could be quite restrictive, lighter, less heavily boned corsets were available for summer wear and active pursuits. Although the tennis-player is still bending from her hips rather than the waist, her figure is less exaggerated than it would normally be. Women's sports clothing has traditionally borrowed elements from men's dress since the masculine-styled riding habits of the seventeenth century, and in this drawing, the high white collar and black necktie, two-tone lace-up shoes with a low heel, and a white wide-brimmed hat are all taken from a smart young man's wardrobe.
The artist, Lucien Guy was a French illustrator and caricaturist active in the early 20th century, who appears to have specialised in portraying elegant, fashionable women of the period.
Fashion drawing of a woman playing tennis. She is wearing a rust-coloured dress with an ankle-length skirt and a shirtwaist bodice, with a man's collar and black tie.
Place of Origin
Lucien Guy (artist)
Object history note
Tennis had been a popular game for women since the mid 19th century, with Wimbledon hosting women's tennis tournaments since 1884. A mid-1880s spongecloth dress especially made for tennis, with a ball pocket embroidered with racquets, is preserved in The Royal Albert Memorial Museum, Exeter. This dress has tight sleeves and an inbuilt steel-hooped bustle, showing how few allowances were made for fashionable women wishing to pursue sports. This drawing of a tennis player, some 20 years later, is similarly fashionable, although the shirt-waist bodice with full sleeves and abbreviated ankle-length skirt are more enabling.
Although corsetry during the late 19th and early 20th centuries was notoriously restrictive, it did not prevent women from participating in sport. Lighter, less heavily boned corsets were provided for summer wear and active pursuits. While the tennis player in the drawing has a small waist, and is still bending from the hips rather than the waist, her figure is slightly less exaggerated than it would have been in a more rigidly structured corset. Women's sports clothing has traditionally borrowed elements from men's dress since the masculine-styled riding habits of the seventeenth century, and the male influence is shown in the high white shirt-collar with black necktie, two-tone lace-up shoes with a low heel, and white hat, versions of which could also have been worn by young men in the summer.
Lucien Guy was a French illustrator and caricaturist active in the early 20th century, who appears to have specialised in portraying elegant, fashionable women of the period.
- Daniel Milford-Cottam, January 2012.
Lucien Guy, Tennis dress. Fashion design for female costume. French c.1904
Illustration; Footwear; Fashion; Hats & headwear; Sport; Day wear; Women's clothes; Hair and hairstyles