Thursday 9 August 2012

1st Swiss Guards

Another Swiss Guard battalion from the WAS/SYW, figures by Foundry. Last time I painted these chaps I was not too keen on them but I'm warming to them and, barring the complete absence of necks for the command, they are not too bad.

Painting wise, the best tip I can give you (and I may have said this before) is to dry brush the silver lace on the officers first. Then cut in the coat colour afterwards.

I've used artistic licence on the 'white' flag which was probably plain white in this period. But I found this somewhat more elaborate example from about 20 years later and decided to use it as it is rather more splendid.

Thursday 2 August 2012

Prussian 12pdr Brummer

I was leaving Les Invalides when I spotted this gun next to the ticket office. It stuck out because of the griffin trunions which I remembered as being distinctly Prussian. There are hundreds of French barrels throughout the museum but the 18th century ones have dolphin trunions (and, incidentally, each one has a name on the barrel). Because there was no description next to the gun I checked yesterday with Christian Rogge. I hoped it might be a 12pdr from the SYW.

Sadly I was wrong, but not by much. The gun is a Prussian ‘heavy’ 12-pounder Brummer [Growler]. Barrel design is 1761. 22 shots long, or approximately 251 cm. long. These pieces did see service late during the SYW, but not this one. The barrel was cast in 1780. It has a rounded button whereas the SYW ones had pine-cone shaped buttons. The carriage is M1774. The SYW carriages looked like the one Christian recently illustrated with the Beauvry 3-pounder. The Brummers fielded at the battle of Leuthen were even more heavy 24 and 26 shots barrels (273,6 and 296,4 cm) than this one. This Paris piece was probably captured in the Revolutionary Wars. They were used until 1796 and disbanded thereafter. They did not take to the field in 1806.

Standing next to the gun you realise quite what an enormous beast she is. She is raised about 4" off the floor on metal supports but even so she ouzes power and threat. I'd have thought she would have needed at least six horses to drag her around on the flat and up any sort of incline, perhaps extra help.

If you go to Les Invalides, you will find her sitting un-noticed by the ticket office.

Wednesday 1 August 2012

Long weekend in Paris

I've just come back from a long weekend in Paris and, of course, I made my customary visit to Les Invalides to wander around the wonderful military museum.

(Top picture) The north facade of Les Invalides showing the gold dome of the chapel (picture 2)in the background. This is the main entrance and the building was built by Louis XIV as a residence for retired old soldiers, contemporaneous with the Chelsea hospital in London.

(2) Église du Dôme finished in 1708 and holding the tomb of Napoleon. This picture I snatched from the web, the others I took.

(3) The tomb of Napoleon.

(4) The magnificent painted dome.

I spent quite a bit of time in the 18th century area of the military museum and it is worth noting that the WAS room is about twice the size of the tiny room dedicated to the SYW - perhaps a reflection of military success or lack of it. The following pictures are from the WAS room. You are allowed to take pictures but without flash so forgive the quality.

(5) A painting of the battle of Fontenoy. I'll discuss this at greater length later as I plan to do a detailed project on this battle breaking it down into phases with maps.

(6) This is a terrific portrait of the chevalier de Grassin who raised his own light regiment famous as the Arquebessiers de Grassin. These troops, as you probably knew, caused the British no end of trouble at the battle of Fontenoy. What is useful about this portrait is that it shows the added coat lace by virtue of his rank as commanding colonel.

(7) A portait of de Saxe. The colour of the coat is difficult to see but it is dark blue.

Lastly, I saw a very interesting mitre shaped hat (looked more like a fusilier hat a la Prusse) but I could not take a decent picture of it due to the reflection of the glass. What is interesting is the description which was "Grenadier hat of an Officer in a Swiss regiment (in French service) dated 1740s". The date is worth noting as this was very early - you might expect to see that in the 1760s but not in the 1740s. Also it is very Prussian in look. So one can infer from this that, at least in the Swiss regiments, grenadier distinctions were being made very early on and that they were modelled on the Prussian model rather than the Austrian model which you would have expected.

My next post will show pictures of a Prussian gun but I'm checking the details with Christian Rogge before I post them.