Friday, April 16, 2021

French Hussar and Peasant Girl

Title: French Hussar and Peasant Girl, 1810s
Artist: Nils Wadensten
Date: unknown

Nils Wadensten: "I've been wanting to practice some 2D painting for a while, here's the first of what I hope will be a number of historically themed pieces. Inspired by 19th century artists and my contemporary hero of historical military painting, Spanish master Augusto Ferrer-Dalmau. The rider is a Napoleonic French Hussar of the 11th regiment."

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Saturday, April 10, 2021

British Generals during Napoleonic Wars

Lieutenant-General Sir Thomas Picton GCB (24 August 1758 – 18 June 1815) was a Welsh officer of the British Army who fought in the Napoleonic Wars. According to the historian Alessandro Barbero, Picton was "respected for his courage and feared for his irascible temperament". The Duke of Wellington called him "a rough foul-mouthed devil as ever lived", but found him capable. Picton came to public attention initially for his alleged cruelty during his governorship (1797–1803) of Trinidad, as a result of which he was put on trial in England for approving the illegal torture of a 14-year-old girl, Luisa Calderón. Though initially convicted, Picton later had the conviction overturned arguing that Trinidad was subject to Spanish law, which permitted the use of torture. Controversy over the torture and Picton's role in the colonial slave trade continued. In 2020, Cardiff council voted to remove Picton's statue in the "Heroes of Wales" gallery in Cardiff City Hall. He is chiefly remembered for his exploits under Wellington in the Iberian Peninsular War of 1807–1814, during which he fought in many engagements, displaying great bravery and persistence. He was killed in 1815 fighting at the Battle of Waterloo, during a crucial bayonet charge in which his division stopped d'Erlon's corps' attack against the allied centre left. He was the most senior officer to die at Waterloo. He was a sitting Member of Parliament at the time of his death. Above: Portrait of Thomas Picton by Thomas Lawrence.

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Tuesday, January 29, 2019

Private Afghan Army 1980

Title: Private Afghan Army (Afghanistan l980)
Artist: Chris McNab
Date: 2002

As this soldier demonstrates, the troops of the Afghan Army were ill equipped to fight the highly motivated Mujahedeen guerrillas during the Soviet Union's 10-year occupation of Afghanistan. The standard grey-drab combat uniform and soft-peaked cap provided scant protection from the severe Afghan weather, and gave a poor appearance on the parade ground (it doubled as parade kit). The webbing is of local manufacture from cheap leather, and the civilian belt has an inadvisably shiny gold buckle which could be an aiming point for a sniper. The rifle is the venerable Mosin-Nagant 7.62mm (0.3in) M1944 carbine, a weapon with origins back to 1888 and, by 1980, hopelessly outdated against the AK series rifles. Canvas gaiters, worn to protect against mud and water intrusion, feature mud-reinforced black leather sections. Afghan soldiers were inconsistently equipped throughout the conflict.

Source :
Book "20th Century Military Uniforms" by Chris McNab

Private Abyssinian Patriot Army (Ethiopia 1941)

Title: Private Abyssinian Patriot Army (Ethiopia 1941)
Artist: Chris McNab
Date: 2002

Abyssinia fell under italian control in 1935 after an invasion from the Italian territories of Somaliland and Eritrea. With the onset of World War II, the Italians thus used Abyssinia as a jumping-off point for their East African campaigns into the Sudan and Kenya, However, resistance from Abyssinian patriots and an effective British campaign in the region returned Abyssinia to its own control in May 1941. The soldier pictured here is one of the Abyssinian resistance fighters who fought alongside the Allies. There was no uniform as such, the patriots usually utilizing whatever items of European clothing were available. This soldier has a khaki tunic and pantaloons, probably of pre-war italian or German origin, worn with canvas leggings, but no boots. The riffe is the German 7.62aum (0.3in) 98K, and a péstol hangs from his leather belt.

Source :
Book "20th Century Military Uniforms" by Chris McNab

Thursday, April 5, 2018

Major-General Sir William Howe

Title: William Howe, 5th Viscount Howe
Artist: Richard Purcell aka Charles Corbutt (ca 1736-ca 1766)
Date: November 1777

Major-General Sir William Howe, 5th Viscount Howe (1729–1814), is depicted in this color mezzotint painting by Richard Purcell, published in 1777. Before returning to North America in March 1775, Howe had seen long service. After fighting in Europe during the Seven Years’ War, Howe played a key role in the capture of Quebec in 1759 and the subsequent campaign against the French. After criticizing Lieutenant-General Thomas Gage over tactics at Bunker Hill in June 1775, Howe was eventually given overall command that September. Under Howe’s leadership the British landed on Staten Island in July 1776 and during the fall of 1776 outmaneuvered General George Washington at Long Island and New York, forcing the Americans to retreat in disorder across New Jersey. During the Fall campaign Howe clashed with both Major-General Charles Cornwallis and Major-General Henry Clinton over strategy. Washington’s victory at Trenton revived American spirits and during 1777 Howe endeavored to regain the initiative by capturing the American capital at Philadelphia. Although this was successful, Howe’s failure to coordinate his movements with Major General John Burgoyne’s invasion from Canada resulted in Burgoyne’s surrender.

Source :
Book "Continental versus Redcoat: American Revolutionary War" by David Bonk

Friday, March 2, 2018

Friedrich the Great after the Battle of Kolin

Title: Friedrich der Große nach der Schlacht bei Kolin (Frederick the Great after the battle of Kolin)
Artist: Julius Schrader (1815-1900)
Date: 1849

The Battle of Kolín on 18 June 1757 saw 44,000 Austrians under Count von Daun defeat 32,000 Prussians under Friedrich the Great during the Third Silesian War (Seven Years' War). The Prussians lost the battle and nearly 14,000 men, the Austrians lost 8,000 men. The battle was Friedrich's first defeat in this war, and forced him to abandon his intended march on Vienna, raise his siege of Prague, and fall back on Litoměřice. The Austrians, reinforced by the 48,000 troops in Prague, followed them, 100,000 strong, and, falling on Prince August Wilhelm of Prussia, who was retreating eccentrically (for commissariat reasons) at Zittau, inflicted a severe check upon him. The king was compelled to abandon Bohemia. This painting by Julius Schrader showed the exhausted monarch resting on a bench after the battle.

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Monday, March 20, 2017

The Berlin Congress

Title: Der Berliner Kongreß 1878 (The Berlin Congress, 1878)
Artist: Anton von Werner
Date: 1881

 At the height of the socialist scare in the early summer of 1878, international affairs also demanded Bismarck’s attention. The Berlin Congress was convened from June 13 to July 13, 1878, as an international meeting to solve the Balkans question in the wake of the Russo-Turkish War of 1877-78. Bismarck offered his services as an “honest broker” [ehrlicher Makler], thereby scoring a major diplomatic triumph. Originally, the Berlin senate hoped to organize a festive reception to mark the conclusion of the congress. But when the plan went awry, it used the allocated money to commission this painting from Anton von Werner (1843-1915). On March 22, 1881, the Kaiser’s 84th birthday, the artist presented the painting to the Berlin city fathers. Werner’s painting highlights a number of important participants in the congress, including British Prime Minister Benjamin Disraeli (1804-1881), seen at the left. The real focus of the viewer’s attention, however, is the trio in the immediate foreground, and, even more specifically, the handshake between Bismarck and the second-ranking Russian diplomat in attendance, Count Pyotr A. Schuvalov (1827-1889). The Austro-Hungarian representative, Count Gyula Andrássy (1823-1890), looks on. That Schuvalov enjoyed such good relations with Bismarck angered the leader of the Russian delegation, Prince Alexander M. Gorchakov (1798-1883) (seated at the left), who subsequently ensured that his career went downhill. Among the men standing at far right are Lord Salisbury, the British foreign secretary, and Lord Odo Russell, the British ambassador in Berlin (third and fourth from the end, respectively). The foreground handshake was partially orchestrated by the artist himself, who wanted the viewer to be able to focus on a relatively intimate group, as opposed to an undifferentiated collection of diplomats. But this still did not prevent critics from complaining that Werner had painted only a “cabinet of wax figures.” Werner had even suggested the setting, for the room in which the handshake took place was better lit than the one in which the main negotiations were held. 


Monday, October 3, 2016

British Grenadiers at the Battle of Bunker Hill

Title: Battle of Bunker Hill
Artist: Edward Percy Moran
Date: 1909

A depiction of the battle of Bunker Hill by Edward Percy Moran (1862-1935), known for his scenes of American history. This significant battle took place on 17 June 1775, mostly on and around Breed's Hill, during the Siege of Boston early in the American Revolutionary War. The battle is named after the adjacent Bunker Hill. Although the uniform details are inaccurate, the formation of the British grenadiers advancing uphill toward the Americans behind prepared positions is largely representative of the closeorder formation used by the British during their assault. After the experience of the retreat from Lexington, British commander Lieutenant-General Thomas Gage ordered his men to form in two rather than three ranks but retained the close-order formation. Although Gage attempted to outflank the American position, a quick reaction by American commanders frustrated British efforts and resulted in a sustained firefight on unequal terms. The British grenadiers were ordered to assault the American lines with the bayonet but their close-order formations made it difficult for them to cross several fences and as the formations lost cohesion the grenadiers lost momentum. As a result many grenadiers began to fire at the enemy rather than carry home their charge. In the aftermath of Bunker Hill British commanders understood that the bayonet was the most effective weapon against the untrained Americans. Conversely, American commanders realized that effective use of terrain and cover, including walls, fences, and woods, could negate some of the lethal nature of the British bayonet charge.

Source :
Book "Continental versus Redcoat: American Revolutionary War" by David Bonk

In the Troops Quarter Outside Paris

Title: Im Etappenquartier vor Paris (A Billet outside Paris)
Artist: Anton von Werner
Date: 24 October 1870 - 1894

This painting by Anton von Werner (1843-1915) was completed in 1894 and purchased the same year by the National Gallery in Berlin (surprisingly, it was the first Werner painting the National Gallery acquired). The sketch forming the basis of his painting, however, had been executed twenty-four years earlier: on October 24, 1870, when the artist was accompanying Chief of the Prussian General Staff Helmuth von Moltke (1800-1891) and his entourage in occupied France. The finished work shows German troops occupying the Château de Brunoy outside Paris during the Franco-Prussian War. To be sure, Werner documents every detail of the scene and the setting – right down to the inexpertly repaired boot sole at the right. But his principal aim is to emphasize the contrast between the vigorous, ruddy-cheeked troops, with their practical mud-covered footwear, and the sumptuous, effeminate interior they have requisitioned for temporary lodgings. This contrast is conveyed not least by Werner’s palette – the soldiers, dressed in blue uniforms with red piping, are rendered in dark primary colors, thereby standing out against an interior awash in pastels and dominated by the warm yellow of gilded surfaces. In this and other pictorial choices, Werner seems to suggest German cultural superiority over the French. For example, the soldiers have not, as in the age-old manner, destroyed the furniture at hand to light a fire and revenge themselves on the enemy; instead, they have taken the time to gather wood on the villa’s grounds, seen just outside the window at rear. And while the soldiers look dirty and rumpled, they are not necessarily rough-hewn. In fact, they have enough good German Bildung – education and “cultivation” – to play the piano and give voice to song in an impromptu concert. (According to Werner’s notes, they were singing Franz Schubert's setting of Heine's poem “Das Meer erglänzte weit hinaus” [“The Sea Shone Resplendent far into the Distance”], which, as he added, was very popular with all the military bands at that time). This history lesson would not have been lost on German viewers of the painting in 1894. Nevertheless, it would be wrong to portray Werner’s politics as illiberal or chauvinist. He had no need to make the enemy appear despicable: except for the villa’s female concierge and her daughter, who appear to be suffering none of the hardships inflicted upon the Parisian population at the time, the French have simply disappeared from the scene. The mood of good humor is further reinforced by the elaborate clock and vases on the mantle – their very presence suggesting that no looting has been committed by the occupying troops. These choices make the painting even more melodramatic and contrived, undercutting its apparently disinterested virtuosity. What conclusions do we draw from this? On the one hand, the very fact that patriotic painting of this sort had achieved such popularity by the 1890s may indicate that, by the turn-of-the-century, the chauvinism so vehemently criticized by Friedrich Nietzsche after 1871 had evolved into something that was, if not more generous to French victimhood or forgiving of German brutality, then at least more innocuous. Tellingly, when contemporary viewers commented upon Werner’s portrayal of soldiers lounging disrespectfully on the furniture of a beautiful French château, they found this aspect amusing, not offensive. On the other hand, such public reaction may reflect the philistine complacency that Nietzsche also identified as characteristic of post-unification German society. 

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Monday, March 21, 2016

Gideon von Laudon at the Battlefield of Kunersdorf

Title: Gideon von Laudon nach seinem Sieg über das Schlachtfeld bei Kunersdorf reitend (Gideon von Laudon riding after the victory over the battlefield of Kunersdorf)
Artist: Siegmund L'Allemand
Date: 1878

Baron Ernst Gideon von Laudon (German: Ernst Gideon Freiherr von Laudon (originally Laudohn or Loudon) (February 2, 1717 – July 14, 1790) was an Austrian generalisimo, one of the most successful opponents of the Prussian king Frederick the Great, allegedly lauded by Alexander Suvorov as his teacher. He served the position of military governorship of Habsburg Serbia from his capture of Belgrade in 1789 until his death, cooperating with the resistance fighters of Koča Anđelković.

The Battle of Kunersdorf, fought in the Seven Years' War, was Frederick the Great's most devastating defeat. On August 12, 1759, near Kunersdorf (Kunowice), east of Frankfurt (Oder), 50,900 Prussians were defeated by a combined allied army 65,000 strong consisting of 41,000 Russians and 24,000 Austrians under Pyotr Saltykov. Only 3,000 soldiers from the original 50,900 comprising the Prussian army returned to Berlin after the battle, though many more had only scattered and were ultimately able to join the army afterward.

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