Eighteenth-century illustrated manuscript sample book of harness designs and other elaborate and decorative carriage horse tack.
2 vols. Oblong small folio (23.5 x 36.8 cm and 25.4 x 39.4 cm). 66 pen-and-ink, watercolour and gouache drawings of horses, mostly highlighted with silver and gold (one folding), all signed, each within a black ruled border, most trimmed and mounted onto larger sheets at a period date. Early marbled paper spines. Housed in an early calf-backed marbled paper covered faux-book box, metal clasps.
Unique illustrated manuscript trade catalogue, with each image depicting a horse in elaborate carriage tack. The drawings were executed by Michael Fölsch himself, one of the foremost Viennese makers and sellers of luxury tack in the early 19th century, to show prospective clients possible designs for their carriage horses. Every single drawing is signed by the artist: Fölsch's talent for draughtsmanship and colouring was hitherto unknown and is remarkable for a leather craftsman who probably never received training as a painter. The breadth and complexity of the designs, and the use of gold and silver, is impressive, underlining the fact that such bespoke equipment was intended for the wealthy elite.
Provenance: first in the equestrian library of the Imperial stablemaster Franz Wenzel Schleichart von Wiesenthal (engraved bookplate on verso of box), who came from a great dynasty of stablemasters and horsebreakers that included his father as well as his two younger brothers Anton Philipp and Johann Joseph; latterly in the collection of Franz Josef II, Fürst von und zu Liechtenstein (1906-89, armorial bookplate).