Monday, September 24, 2018

The Landau Carriage

Monday, September 24, 2018
1809 Landau
Loretta reports:

My characters get from here to there in various horse-drawn vehicles, but mainly I've posted about public transportation, like hackney cabs and coaches. Privately owned vehicles have been rather neglected, although I do offer images on my Pinterest page.

In A Duke in Shining Armor, the heroine arrives in a landau to collect her wayward duke. The landau was a coachman-driven vehicle, pulled by two to four horses. It carried four passengers, and was more luxurious than the curricles and cabriolets that dashing heroes tend to drive in our stories. The latter are more like sports cars. The former are more like luxury sedans.

Something to bear in mind: Unlike today, vehicles did not come off an assembly line. They were individually made, and the owner might have been closely involved in the design.* Consequently, not all landaus look alike. Earlier ones were often built on square lines, but not always, as the 1809 Ackermann illustration, above, shows. Some interesting aspects of the landau, as pointed out here, are the seating design, allowing the two pairs of passengers to face each other, and the two folding hoods. According to Discovering Horse-Drawn Carriages, “In the early days, the hoods were made of harness leather and fell back a mere forty-five degrees.” When these early hoods were up, the interior could be hot, stuffy, and smelly, thanks to the oil and blacking used to keep the leather nice and shiny. In later vehicles, the hoods folded back flat.
Square Landau

A much later and fancier vehicle, one of the royal family’s Ascot landaus, was the carriage the Duke and Duchess of Sussex (aka Harry & Meghan) used for their wedding.

Here’s a late Victorian landau from the Horse and Carriage Museum Château de Vaux-le-Vicomte, France. And this is one you can buy.

You can read more about landaus here at All Things Georgian.

*This is why some vehicles, like the Stanhope gig, are named after people.

Images: Patent Landau, Ackermann’s Repository, February 1809; Square Landau, NEN Gallery, Luton Culture Museum Service.

Clicking on the image will enlarge it.  Clicking on the caption will take you to the source, where you can learn more and enlarge images as needed. And just so you know, if you order an item through one of my posts, I might get a small share of the sale.


Cynthia Lambert said...

About eighteen years ago, I had the rather extraordinary experience of riding in an open landau through the streets of Kathmandu, with throngs of people 10 deep on each side waving and taking pictures as the procession wound its way through the city for about 8 miles. My brother had a traditional Nepali wedding, and the royal family loaned him their landau. In the front of the procession were men with large horns trumpeting the approach, followed by many other musicians and dignitaries, with the landau at the finish. My mother and I had saris made - hers an irridescent silk, and mine a royal blue with gold embroidery like stars on a night sky. My hair was platinum at that time, worn in a low chignon, with a jeweled bindi on my forehead. I made liberal use of my "royal Queen Mary wave" as we moved along, passing temples and the royal palace along the route. So when I see English royal processions in their landaus, I think to myself, "I know how it feels to be the center of attention like that, and it's a lot of fun."

Loretta Chase said...

Trés Charmante, what an amazing experience that must have been! Thank you for describing it!

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