“Madame Cigali the Famous Female Fencer from Rome at Henry Angelo’s Fencing Academy” Undated, by Thomas Rowlandson.
Rowlandson was evidently intrigued by the idea of a man and woman fencing as he drew at least five such studies. One in the Dent collection depicted Henry Angelo and `Madame Cain’. `Madame Culloni and Mons. Renault’ in Paris is recorded in the Dent Collection with another version in the Yale Center for British Art. Another, of `Madame Kelu famous Fencer Native of Italy 1816’ was sold at Sotheby’s on 22nd March 1979, lot 57.“ Source: Guy Peppiatt Fine Art
After the show at the Lyceum was over Monday night May Howard and La Jaguarina, were about the last to leave the theater, and as they went out they were followed by a young man. Now Rina, as the fencer is generally known by her friends, is a deceptive bundle of femininity. When she gets in her street clothes, with a natty cossack Jacket buttoned close under her chin, she does not look very different from any other neatly put-up woman that you might meet in a day’s shopping. But she has all the lightning quickness of her feline namesake, with a very fair portion of Sandow’s muscle. Still, the young fellow was not expected to know this.
The two women had gone a couple of blocks up the avenue toward their hotel when the attentions of the chappie became marked enough to warrant recognition. Then with merry malice he was led into an ambush. The two residents of stage-land had reached the corner of 13th street and cut across through the little reservation in front of the National Theater. They had no sooner gotten well into the shadows of the bushes than the fellow stepped up and touched the swordswoman on the arm. If he had laid violent hands on an electric eel he could not have been more astonished. It was just what his quarry had been waiting for, and in telegraph time she had him by the collar and was shaking him with all the enthusiasm of a terrier over a newly captured cat. His hat went one way and his cane went the other, and his teeth played a castanet obligato to the solo of good advice that was rapidly breathed into his vibrating ears.
First he whimpered, and then he howled for help, and finally wriggling out of his light spring overcoat he incontinently fled leaving the garment in the hands of the victors. “Did I keep the overcoat?” repeated Jaguarina, when the inquiry was made of her. “No, I did think of adding it to my collection of relics, you know, but the fact was it smelt of cigarettes and moth balls, so I hung it on the shrubbery to air and left it.
“Oh, no. I didn’t hit the little fellow. I was tempted for a minute to try a half hook on him. I know a little about boxing myself, but on second thoughts I didn’t want to be prosecuted for manslaughter, so I took it out in shaking him and then let him go. Even the sternest justice, you know, should be tempered with mercy.”
Ella Hattan, better known by her nom-de-guerre “Jaguarina,” was Colonel Thomas Monstery’s most accomplished student. Born in 1859 in Ohio, she would go on to become widely regarded as one of the greatest swordswomen of the nineteenth century, and perhaps of all time. Hattan would defeat more than sixty men in high-profile combats on both horseback and on foot; according to one major newspaper, more than half of these men were fencing masters.
For more details of Hattan’s extraordinary career, her training, and her lengthy master-student relationship with Monstery, see the following article:
“As soon as she comprehended what his words meant, bang, biff! she landed right and left, and he fell to the ground. ‘Get up, you coward,’ she commanded, and he, overcome by the ringing tones, very foolishly crawled to his knees. Biff! Bang! Right and left landed again, and down he went, and this time he refused to get up and sprawled on the ground, calling for help. It was several days before he was presentable, while Jaguarina laughingly showed her friends in this city the next day that she knocked the fellow down twice without even taking the skin from her rosy little knuckles.” (Los Angeles Herald)
“In the twelfth attack Jaguarina dashed to Wiedemann’s corner, there was a crash of arms, a prolonged ring of steel, a blade was seen to flash through the air, and Jaguarina threw the fragments of a broken sword from her to the ground. In an instant another sword was put into her hand, and again she dashed towards her opponent and slashed right and left, and a moment later the referee announced a point for Jaguarina…the score this time stood five to five. Jaguarina’s friends urged her to be cautious, but she, heeding nothing, rushed at her opponent and cut right and left, Weidemann parrying with all his might and skill. Recovering himself from the first shock, he aimed a cut at Jaguarina in high carte which was met by a strong parry which threw his sword arm out of line, and before he could return his weapon to protect himself, the sound of Jaguarina’s blade was heard on his cuirasse from a vigorous and unmistakable cut in carte, ending the contest with a score of six to five in favor of Jaguarina. The victor at once doffed her helmet and cuirasse and received round after round of applause from those present, many of her more enthusiastic friends throwing their caps high in the air…” (San Diego Union)
“I’m a firm believer in the philosophy that women were meant to be just as robust and hardy as men—and they can be without losing any of their womanliness. In fact, physical culture gives grace, beauty, self-reliance—while taking nothing but aches and dyspepsia.” Ella Hattan
“Despite such accounts, more than one reporter who met her, expecting to meet a “fierce faced Amazon,” was shocked to find that Hattan exuded grace, refinement, and, as one put it, “perfect self-control and sweetness.” “
“After training for three years under Monstery, Hattan left to travel the world, andbecame a sensation with the foil, saber, broadsword, singlestick, rapier, dagger, bayonet, lance, Spanish knife, and Bowie knife, defeating fencing heavyweights such as Sergeant Owen Davis of the U.S. Cavalry, the famed knife duelist Charles Engelbrecht of the Danish Royal Guard, and the fencing master E. N. Jennings of the Royal Irish Hussars.”
“Under Monstery’s tutelage, Hattan would go on to become recognized as one of the greatest swordswomen of the nineteenth century, and perhaps of all time.”
Straight blade of triangular section with hollowed facets (some pitting). Iron mounts with sword-shells decorated in bass-relief and pierced with grapevines and bunches of grapes and with traces of gilding. Grips of square section with iron wire bindings. Big, iron pommels decorated in bass-relief en suite with the sword-shells.