Thursday, 23 December 2010

Sothebys Archive


I've been doing a bit of searching on the Sothebys auction archive over the past couple of months and, while there aren't lots of SYW-related items, it does seem to throw up the odd really interesting piece now and again. I'm a bit wary of uploading lots of pictures from their site, as I'm not sure of how the image rights work with recently sold paintings, but a few seemed too useful or interesting not to share.

'Cavalry Party at Rest by the side of a Road' by Jean-Baptiste Le Paon

This first image is a period image of either British or Hanoverian cavalry at rest (I think but would be happy to be corrected) and seems to be a quite useful depiction of the uniforms and horse furniture of whichever units these men are from.

'An officer relieving a sick soldier' by Edward Penny

Look familiar? This stood out immediately to me, as it is essentially the same painting as Penny's famous depiction of Granby, but with Granby replaced by an officer of the 3rd Irish Horse.

 'Two Polychrome Painted Dummy Board Figures of an Ottoman Soldier and an Imperial Soldier'

This description comes from the Sothebys auction listing but I'm pretty certain the figure on the right is a Pandour not an Ottoman, due to the pistols, the cape, the clothes, the busby and the fact that he was painted as part of a set with an Austrian Grenadier. I'd say this is my favourite of the lot, I'd never seen figures like this and they are quite large (209 and 206 cm tall) and very detailed.

Unfortunately the site is not overflowing with items like these, just the odd bits and bobs that have come up for auction every now and then. It really makes you wonder how much stuff like this is tucked away out there in private collections that we don't know about. Then again, perhaps we do know about them and it's just me who's seeing something new.

If you wanted to have a look for things yourself go to this link and use the search box in the top right hand corner. Then, once the search results come back as 0, click the 'Sold Lot Archive' tag in the middle of the page. A word of advice if you do decide to have a look; don't make your searches too specific unless you know the name of an artist. The two Imperial figures were found with the search term '18th soldier', with the 18th being for the century (if you put '18th century' it won't throw up items that have '18th and 19th centuries' for example). Image quality can also vary considerably, with the older auctions being especially blurred.

Also, I'm having luck on the painting front and seem to have hit my stride. I should have a unit of American Rangers painted and based by the end of the month. Fingers crossed.

Monday, 13 December 2010

Free French & Indian War Books

Hi there. It's been a bit of a gap and I have still not added a single photograph of a painted miniature to the blog since I last posted, but I have just compiled another list of public domain books (with a pair of silent films), this time focussed on the Seven Years War in North America alone. There are a good 50 or so, most of which are first hand accounts in the form of memoirs, journals and orderly books. They can be reached by following the link in the top, right-hand corner of the blog, or by clicking here.

And while I've been nosying around the internet looking at various French and Indian War material I found the above video on youtube. It's a deleted scene from Last of the Mohicans (deleted from the Region 2 DVD of it at any rate) and I can't for the life of me figure out why. It's only two minutes long, must have took a good while to shoot and actually fits in with the film quite well (they even mention that Duncan will create a diversion). Anyhow, if you like the thought of volley-firing British Grenadiers you'll like the clip.

Now, I should probably explain my breathtaking lack of progress on the painting front. I've had a good break from painting for a while but cleaned up a huge chunk of the SYW miniatures I've got lying around (French Hussars, Arquebusiers de Grassin, Hessian Jaegers, Freikorps and Artillery) but, following the disaster that happened with my spray paint the last time, I'm waiting for the perfect opportunity to get them undercoated (ie. when everyone who'll whinge about me using spray paint in the house has gone out for the day). I have, however, got a number of FIW miniatures undercoated from over a year ago which will probably be receiving paint over the next week or so. But if you don't see any photographed and slapped on this blog by the new year you're welcome to rebuke me for my slothful ways, in as forceful a manner as you like.

Saturday, 11 September 2010

Osprey MAA 460: Frederick the Great's Allies Review

I picked this up in Manchester's Ian Allen Bookshop today and thought I'd write a little review based on my first impressions. I haven't read it cover-to-cover, but I have skimmed through it excitedly on the bus home and I am pretty pleased with it. My major worry was that the majority of the text would be devoted to a narrative of the campaign in the west, with only a few pages devoted to uniforms (like the last book of theirs that I bought on the Belgians in the Great War). I was pleasantly surprised when I found that only the first three pages focussed on the course of the campaign; the remaining 40-odd pages are devoted to the organisation and uniforms of His Britannic Majesty's Army in Germany.

Stuart Reid divides the book into sections based not on nationality but, more usefully, arm-of-service (Cavalry, Infantry, Technical Troops and Light Troops) which allows him to give a useful introduction to the themes that apply to the troops of all contingents. Following on from this, each section is further divided by nation. The organisation and uniforms of each are explored with lists of facing colours provided for the larger contingents. From my (somewhat small) general knowledge of the period it appears that nothing is missed out and certain confusions could well have been solved, Frei-Regiment von Gerlach for example (see bottom). This main section of the text is illustrated throughout by annotated, black-and-white copies of the Knotel plates and the cigarette cards that can be found in colour on the internet. Reid seems to have made good use of primary source material and usually states where he has got his information, or which conflicting bit of info he has gone with and why (with the plate for the British 51st Regt being a good example, as it differs from what is often described).

The plates themselves are beautifully done, oozing in charm and character. Since the plates are often what we buy these books for I've included a list of what is covered, below. I think that the plate space is well used, with the contingents all getting at least some attention. Given the polygot nature of the Allied army in the west it is inevitable that the plates cannot fully cover all arms of service from every contingent, but the main text does not seem to leave anything out.

Plate A: Hanoverian Infantry (Grenadier, Fussgarde-Regiment 1757; Musketeer, Hardenberg 1759; Musketeer, Sachsen-Gotha 1759)
Plate B: Hanoverian Cavalry (Grenadier, Grenadieren zu Pferde; Cuirassier, Hodenburg; Prussian Dragoon, Nr. 9 Holstein-Gottorp)
Plate C: Light Cavalry (Prussian Hussar, Nr. 5 Reusch; Hanoverian Hussar, Luckner'scher Frei-Husaren 1757; Carabinier, Buckeburg contingent 1758)
Plate D: Hanoverian Light Troops (Mounted Jager, Freytag'scher Freikorps; Grenadier, Scheither'schen Freikorps; Musketeer, 1st Battalion Legion Britannique)
Plate E: British Contingent at Minden (Private, 51st Foot; Grenadier, 25th Foot; Trooper, 6th Dragoons)
Plate F: Hesse-Kassel Contingent (Grenadier, Leibgarde zu Fuss 1760; Fusilier, Fusilier-Regt von Berthold 1760; Musketeer, Frei-Regiment von Gerlach)
Plate G: Brunswick Contingent (Hussar, Husarenkorps; Officer, von Imhoff; Dragoon, von Bibow)
Plate H: Technical Troops (Hanoverian Pontoonier; Hesse-Kassel Artilleryman; Scheither'scher Freikorps Artilleryman)

The reason I've included a full list of what is covered by the plates is that I have been dissappointed with the plates in some of the Men-at-Arms series in the past. Whole pages devoted to Guard kettledrummers in special parade dress and the like spring to mind. Or, more recently, a two page spread of Belgian soldiers assaulting a trench with absolutely no plate commentary at the back whatsoever. Frederick the Great's Allies hits the nail on the head, in my opinion. Every plate contains three uniforms that would have been seen on campaign, and every uniform has an informative commentary at the back.

Overall, I'm very happy with this book. I think Stuart Reid has done an admirable job of creating as full a breakdown of the organisation and uniforms of the army as is possible in the 48 pages allowed by the Men-at-Arms format. That he has done it in such a logically structured, engaging manner is all the more to his credit.

I don't pretend to be an expert in the field to any degree and if you have any thoughts on the book, or feel I haven't quite got this small review right, please feel free to add your comments below.

Frei-Regiment von Gerlach

I just thought I'd add a little tidbit of information I got from the book regarding this unit. I was asking on TMP about the unit a few months ago, and it seemed that it didn't show up in any Hessian OOBs and there was some doubt as to whether it existed altogether. Stuart Reid indicates that the unit began as Major Rall's battalion of Chasseurs, being first made up of contingents from various Hessian regiments in their original uniforms. These were then replaced by the uniform shown elsewhere in the blog. Unfortunately, Reid doesn't provide his source for this, though I attribute this more to the short format of the series not allowing for proper citations as opposed to any failings on his part. The fact that he goes to lengths to provide his sources throughout the book for any uniform-related choices (eg. British 51st Foot and Scheither Corps Artillery) makes me quite happy to accept his version of the history of the unit. Interestingly, the plate of Frei-Regiment von Gerlach has them depicted with lapels, as opposed to the version from the cigarette card. Perhaps the Pengel and Hurt version (which I haven't got) shows them with lapels?

Monday, 9 August 2010

Jumping the gun...

...or that's what it feels like, making the flags for a unit when I've only managed to paint one miniature. However in this case it's more of a necessity. As we don't know what flags Frei-regiment von Gerlach had (if they existed at all) I've decided to create some myself, and the only decent laser printer I have access to will become somewhat unaccessible when my current job ends at the end of this week. For the flags themselves, I've used one of the later Hessian flag designs by Frédéric Aubert from Kronoskaf as a basis. The later flag seemed to be appropriate as Prussia's allies in the west introduced a greater variety of light units towards the end of the war (Hannover with its British Legion, Brunswick and its Volontaires auxiliaires, etc.).

Creating the flags wasn't as hard as I'd thought it would be. On NBA, David said that he'd added texture to his flags by importing the texture as another layer. I don't have the program that David uses but found a youtube tutorial for something similar using the free '' program. For a suitable texture I used a portion of one of Da Vinci's drapery studies and followed this tutorial on youtube. Later I did a google image search for drapery study and found a large number of images with more suitable folds for a rippling flag, but I'd already done these and can't be bothered changing them, to be honest. This method won't replace the high printing quality of commercial flags like GMB, but for making hypothetical flags it's a lot easier than painting freehand (which I don't think I have the skill or patience for anyway!). The flags are relatively plain (compared to the line regiment versions) which I thought was more fitting for a Frei-regiment. I plan to have a stand with four standard bearers on, as I like the depictions in Rochling et al's paintings of Prussian regiments with their stand of a few colours and I've got a couple of extra colour bearers who are just gathering dust in the lead pile. As I'm planning a large regiment of 60 or so (I'm trying to build kleinkrieg forces with only a few units a side, but a larger figure to historical numbers ratio), I don't think the four colours will overpower the unit as it might a small one.

Saturday, 7 August 2010

Getting There, slowly...possibly surely

Well, after four months of lying abandoned, half finished in my drawer, I've finally finished painting a miniature. Apologies for the slighty blurred photos although this is a bonus in my case, as you can't see how thickly the paint's been laid on. The crossbelts look especially chalky, for want of a better word.

When I promised in my last post that I would have a unit done in a months time this wasn't the intended one. I'd spent ages cleaning up a unit of Hessian Jaegers, but these fell victim to disaster while I was spraying on the undercoat (moisture in the air/using the dregs in the can/not shaking the can enough/spraying in a dark shed and not seeing that they were turning into black blobs -the last two are more likely, to be honest). The undercoat turned a streaky black/dark grey combination when I left them outside to dry.

The miniature I've painted is one of the 'semi-mythical' Frei-Regiment von Gerlach. A couple of TMP posters (David from NBA and Crogge1757) indicate that the unit probably didn't exist at all, but I had my heart set on the unit after I found the old cigarette card for it on the excellent Grosser-Generalstab website. The uniform card is below:

The reason there is only the one of them is that this was finished as a test. I was doing 6 in a production line but I wasn't happy with the triad I used on the musket stocks and satchel. I decided to finish one off to make sure I was happy with the rest of the colours I'd be using. With any luck I'll have the first company of 12 done only shortly after the end of the month-long deadline. I'm going on a pre-booked holiday in a week or so's time, but this is offset by the free time arising from ending of my contract in a week's time, so it's back to this for me.

Another book has been added to the list:
Memoirs of Field Marshal Leopold Count Daun

Edit: And I've just noticed I've missed a bit!

Thursday, 22 July 2010

What a waster...

Next week turned into next month, next month turned into next season, and this blog nearly turned into one of the umpteen blogs that died after the first couple of posts, taking up a name that another prospective blogger had their heart set on (for a prime example go to I'm guessing we're not going to find out if Mellanie's boyfriend ever began to understand her). I wish I could blame a busy schedule for my but in truth it is laziness  that is the cause of the lack of updates. So much for a blog motivating me to paint up the lead pile, after 4 months I've painted six sets of hands and faces, 6 waistcoats and basecoated one tunic. I hereby swear, before all several of you, that by this time next month I will have painted one SYW unit (no excuses).

Shwerin at the Battle of Prague from the book by Kugler (see below)

The main reason for this post after so long is that I started searching for more books after I had had the SYW on the brain while booking rail tickets to go to Foundry's open day in Nottingham tomorrow. I almost immediately stumbled upon Kugler's Life of Frederick the Great. This book is the source of all the beautifully evocative Menzel prints that you see in the Ospreys on the Prussian Army of the Seven Years War. The sheer number of them is staggering; there is an illustration every couple of its  four hundred and odd pages, with lovely old-fashioned picture letters at the beginning of each chapter. 

 The greatest ever letter D

This letter U makes me wish my employer would rethink it's Arial only policy. I'd love to submit a report where the boss is confronted with a Prussian Grenadier staring blankly back at him.

A cursory glance makes it seem like the book is a nice easy read, full of the little anecdotes that make the period such a joy to read about. I doubt i'll be able to read much of it off of a nauseating computer screen, though. A link to the book is below, along with links to a few more:

Franz Kugler, illustrated by  Adolph Menzel

Henri de Catt
(Thanks to David of Not by Appointment for this book which gives real insights into Frederick's character)

The History of the Seven Years War in Germany (1843)
Johann Wilhelm von Archenholz, Frederic Adam Catty

Sir Julian Stafford Corbett

Friday, 9 April 2010

SYW Fiction for Boys

Chris (boy wonder x) on TMP brought a fictional book to my attention, With Clive in India and I've found another by the same author, With Frederick the Great. I've always liked this sort of 'Boys' own' fiction and it's nice to see some with an SYW theme. Both are available thanks to the generosity of the people who supply Project Gutenberg with books.

If you don't fancy reading them, I'd recommend downloading the Frederick the Great one for the pictures and maps. The links to these are below, as are some of the pictures:

With Clive in India
by George Alfred Henty

With Frederick the Great
by George Alfred Henty

Three More Free SYW Books

I've found three more books but it feels like this is it, to be honest. Every search term I use brings up the same few books over and over. I've added them to the list but also included them below to save you looking through again trying to figure out which three are the new three.

De Ligne was an officer from the Austrian Netherlands who served in many of the major battles of the Seven Years War including Leuthen. There are a good 40 or so pages devoted to that period in this book as well as a dozen or so more related to his time spent with Frederick the Great after the war.

By O. P. Gilbert

Thursday, 8 April 2010

Free (Public Domain) SYW Books

I've just posted links to all of the Seven Years War books I've been able to find so far that are hosted on Google Books and the like. I'm sure somebody has compiled a better, more comprehensive list of public domain SYW books, but I haven't been able to find one yet so I've just stuck up what I've found(approx 40).

Mostly, the originals have been scanned in by university libraries meaning that the viewing quality of the books varies. I've only found time to read a couple so far (can't read books on a computer screen to save my life) but of the ones I've read I'd recommend the biography of Seydlitz. It's full of the funny little anecdotes that make this period a pleasure to study, and the quality of the scan is very good.

You can get to them by following the link in the top right of the blog or clicking here.

Tuesday, 6 April 2010

Visit to Leuthen, 5th December 09 - continued

Here are some more photos from Leuthen. I've only just figured out how much easier it is to upload photos if you select the new editor in blogger.

The monument to Frederick's victory viewed from the north on the road between Frobelwitz and Borne. Hopefully this photograph illustrates the gentleness of the rises in the ground that are overemphasised on a lot of the maps we are used to using. When i was walking down the road looking for the Schonberg, I was on the lookout for a relatively steep hill like the one hinted at on the map below, and was therefore very surprised to spot it on such a flat horizon. That said, the photo in the previous posting shows that, despite its low gradient, it provided a commanding view that helped Frederick assess the Austrian position.

Sunday, 4 April 2010

Visit to Leuthen, 5th December 2009 (with photos)

With my temporary contract at work coming to an end, and with holidays still needing to be used at a time when nobody else would be free, I decided on a whim to visit the battlefields of Austerlitz and Leuthen on their respective anniversaries which, thanks to Ryanair and Easyjet, turned out to be relatively cheap. My visit to Leuthen proved to be the more rewarding of the two by far (Austerlitz ended in farce to be honest, but I didn’t really research before I went so I got what I deserved). Leuthen was the first battlefield I have properly visited, let alone written about, so you’ll have to excuse me if the following post reads like the ramblings of an idiot interrupted now and again with poorly-taken photographs.