I collect antique side saddle related photographs and often I come across ones of 19th century celebrities (actresses, opera singers, famous courtesans) wearing riding habits. Actresses, even though many of them became rich and famous, were not considered part of "proper" society due to how they acquired their money and their profession. Since riding was considered a proper sport for women with wealth to engage in, actresses often donned riding habits (whether they ride or not) to give them an air of respectability in their photos.
Usually they are identified but a few years ago, I came across this very late 1860's- early 1870's colorized CDV photo of a woman wearing a habit which was not. I had a feeling she may have been a famous person as the photographer, Charles Reutlinger of Paris, was mostly only frequented by actresses/actors, etc.
Then not long after finding this photo, I happened across the non colorized verison of the photo and thought, yes, this MUST be someone famous, but who? Yes, normal people sometimes had doubles made of their photos to give to family and friends but what are the odds of finding an identical photo of the same person in two completely different places taken by a photographer whose clientèle were celebtrities?
Well, this lady remained a mystery until the other day when I came across an Ebay auction for yet ANOTHER identical photo of the same lady! I can now identify her as Louise-Léontine Massin and she was an actress.
Here is her mini bio from the Ebay auction:
Born in Paris in 1847, Massin worked first as a seamstress. At the age of sixteen, she joined the Folies-Marigny, and then in 1865, the Palais-Royal, where she became a great favourite of the public due to her beauty. She next joined the Gymnase before being engaged by the Vaudeville in 1872. After a tour of Russia, she returned to Paris, where in 1881 she created the role of Nana. A year later she triumphed in La Marchande des Quatres Saisons. She died in 1901 during an attack of delirium in the asylum of Saint-Maurice.
There doesn't seem to be much information around on her, especially if she rode or not. On an interesting note, I found this French website that disputes her birth date as being 1853 as her father seems to have given three various birth dates (1847, 1848 and 1853). It also states that later in life, she became destitute and was found dying in the street from hunger and the cold. It was then that she was placed in the asylum where she died a few days later.
An edit to this post, this is a photo for Lexi to show where to measure the gullet in a side saddle!