Trade Card of Mathieu Riviere, Proprietor of a Real Tennis Court

Artist or maker:
1660-1690 {nd}
The fashions of the clothes accords with the latter half of the seventeenth century.
Place of Production:
etching on paper
Type of Object:
trade cards
Accession number:
One of a set, see others


Brief Description

Trade card of Mathieu Riviere, proprietor of a real tennis court (jeu de paume). The image and text are both etched. The design consists of a representation of goods and services and a text area.

The card is divided into two registers. The slightly larger upper register contains a view of a game of real tennis taking place in the large barrel vaulted hall of an indoor tennis court. The building is composed of a high wall. The wall is decorated with a horizontal foliate pattern band; a vertical band and a plaque delineated by the foliate and scroll pattern in the middle of the left hand wall; and two vertical foliate and scroll bands in the middle of the back wall, terminating in fleurs-de-lis.

In the upper section of the wall is a clerestory with simple ionic flat columns, and nets suspended across the apertures. At upper right, a male spectator looks through the nets. On the back wall lunette, above the clerestory, is a painting composed of scrolling foliage and an image of the naked Venus, standing, and holding a drapery in the shape of a sail. On the right wall, at ground level, is a viewing gallery with three apertures and a doorway. Five men, dressed in wide-brimmed hats, are visible through the apertures looking on or chatting to each other. A man without a hat stands in the doorway; he holds a ball and wears a bucket.

Four men, all dressed in wide-brimmed hats, play tennis. The man in the left foreground bends down, about to serve. The two men in the foreground wear breeches with ruffles and loose sleeve shirts. The left hand man wears a doublet. The two men in the background wear breeches and knee-length coats.

The lower register of the print is occupied by a horizontal oval cartouche containing the text. The frame is composed of: palm branches curved round the edges of the cartouche; two strapwork scrolls framing an oval, at the upper centre of the frame, from which drape two laurel garlands; two scroll palm fronds which curve out from the bottom of the oval; on each side are two spheres surmounted by flags; a laurel garland and ribbons are suspended from each sphere; the laurel garlands each terminate with a rosette from which hang swags of scalloped edged material.

The oval at the upper centre of the cartouche contains an image of the birth of Venus. The naked Venus stands in a scallop shell and holds a piece of drapery in the form of a sail. In the centre left of the cartouche there is a plaque bearing the words ‘H de T. stat.’.

Curatorial Commentary

The man in the doorway may well be a representation of the proprietor, Mathieu Riviere.

The addition of the naked Venus adds an element of eroticism to the scopic and homosocial activity depicted in the card.

‘H de T. stat.’ may be a maker's mark.

The address of the tennis court suggests the card was made in the Netherlands.

Phillippa Plock, 2008

Physical description

Dimensions (mm):
250 x 184
Physical Details:
single sheet, plate mark size: 247 x180, image size: 241 x174
Aux Nobles Amateurs / du Royal divertissement, Le jeu de paulme [sic] / MESSIEURS / Mathieu Riviere Vous offre son tres humble / Service, dans son jeu de paulme [sic] nouveau dans le / Zuylestraet, la place, la commodite, l'appareil, et tout / à la facon francoise / H. de T. Stat.
To the noble lovers of the Royal pastime of Real Tennis Sirs Mathieu Riviere offers you his very humble service in his new real tennis court in the Zuylestraet, accommodation, convenience, apparel, and all in the French style. H. de T. Stat.


Owned by Gabriel-Hippolyte Destailleur (b.1822, d.1893); included in sale of Destailleur's library, Damascène Morgand (b.1840, d.1898), Paris, 13 April 1891, part of lot no. 351, 'Recueil d'Adresses, Cartes de visite, Billets de Bal, Brevets Militaires, etc. En un vol. in-fol., velin. Recueil des plus importants comprennant 355 pieces, adresses, billets d'invitation, titres de livres, brevets militaries, assignats, etc. Adresses au nombre de 220 des XVIIe, XVIIIe siècles' (price paid for volume: 2,700 FF); acquired by Baron Ferdinand de Rothschild (b.1839, d.1898); inherited by his sister Alice de Rothschild (b.1847, d.1922); inherited by her great-nephew James de Rothschild (b.1878, d.1957); bequeathed to Waddesdon The Rothschild Collection (The National Trust) in 1957.
Part of:
Recueil d'adresses: A collection of sixteenth, seventeenth, eighteenth and nineteenth century French, German, Belgian, Swiss, Dutch, Italian and Spanish trade cards, labels, wrappers, advertisements and related commercial ephemera bound in four volumes. 3686.1-4
Waddesdon (National Trust)
Bequest of James de Rothschild, 1957



Damascène Morgand; b.1840, d.1898; Catalogue des livres rares et precieux composant la Bibliothèque de M. Hippolyte Destailleur; 1891; Paris; p. 90, no. 351
Heiner Gillmeister; Tennis. A Cultural History; England; Equinox Publishing Ltd; 2017; ill.

Indexed terms

Other details

Location of Premises:
Trades (Original Language):
propriétaire d'un court du jeu de paume/Entertainment activities
fournit la place e l'appareil pour le jeu de paume/Entertainment activities