Saturday, 24 April 2010

My Salute

So, yesterday was one of two days a year where I venture out to a wargames show. Infuriatingly, I forgot to take my camera with me (I had planned to take pictures of the games and introduce them into my blog whenever I hadn't painted anything - which seems to be rather more than I would like), which is a huge shame as there were a few very nice games at Salute.

If you recall, I began this blog with a list of things I would like to achieve - and one of those things was to paint twice as many figures as I buy. On that basis I went to Salute with a limited agenda - I wanted to get the figures necessary to produce a vignette reproducing the Vereshegin painting of Napoleon at Borodino shown above, I wanted some remounts for the Russian Uhlans I'm painting (yes I'm still working on them) and that was about it. All in all, I had no intention of buying much.

So, quite how I came to be struggling with several carrier bags at the end of the day I'm really not sure....

So, to the Vershegin painting. Vassili Vereshegin was born in 1842, trained as a Russian Navy officer, graduating first in his class, but upon graduating immediately resigned his commission to study painting. He was somewhat controversial as he believed that showing war's horror on canvas made peace more likely - some of his paintings were fairly gruesome. Towards the end of his life he settled in Moscow and painted a series of paintings based on Napoleon's 1812 Russian campaign (and on Tolstoy's War and Peace). He painted the picture in 1893 (I've also seen 1897 quoted).

The painting depicts French staff officers anxiously peering through their telescopes at the battle raging before them as they seek to distinguesh what is happening through the smoke - meanwhile Napoleon sits, his feet resting on a drum with his head on his chest (perhaps suggesting that he realised that trying to go head on with a large Russian army rather than seeking to flank them was a mistake).

Fantassin (or as they insist upon calling themselves these days Warmodelling) produce a Vereshagin Napoleon (Code NP-04) sitting head upon chest, feet upon drum accompanied by an officer peering through a telescope and very nice the two figures are (see picture above from their website) - but I couldn't help feeling that the Fantassin designer had missed a trick, after all he had left the job half finished. If you are going to try and reproduce a military painting why just do two figures from the group? After all there aren't that many sources for dismounted 15mm French Napoleonic officers looking through telescopes and if you would like to reproduce the image two figures is nowhere near enough.

Fantassin also do a staff HQ set (NP-06) which has several figures that are of use - I'm thinking I can press some of the officers into service as "hangers on" and, while there is no table featured in the Vereshegin painting I'm sure there was one around nearby. However there is one glaring omission from the pack - officer with telescope.

Anyway, after asking on The Miniatures Page forum for where to find supplementary figures suitable for such a project I was pointed towards the Old Glory French Marshalls pack number 2 (NMG4) which features (as well as said marshalls) another table, a sentry, a mameluke holding a horse and (hallelujah!) an officer looking through a telescope - so that gives me two (I had hoped for rather more). I also think that OG have taken a crack at Napoleon as there is a figure in this pack with his feet resting upon a drum - but it isn't quite right so we'll be using the Fantassin Napoleon which is much closer to the original picture.

The OG Marshalls pack also features a cuirrassier officer sitting on a chair (presumably at the table - I wouldn't have thought that sitting at a chair while wearing a cuirrass would have been terribly comfortable) whom I'll make use of and a couple of figures that are nice but will not make it onto my table. One is a busty young lady wearing a hussar uniform, and one is of an officer with a pretty girl (again in uniform) sitting on his lap - I seem to recall one of the Marshalls (in Spain?) brought his mistress along on campaign and dressed her in uniform so I guess this a reference to that.

As well as these interesting figures the pack also includes several marshalls on horseback - now I'd like to think I wasn't this anal (but I know I am) so I guess at some point I'll list out which marshalls were at Borodino and separate them from the rest for painting. I can build a corps commanders base for each of them.

Coming back to the Vereshegin project this still leaves me with a shortage of telescope peering French officers. Any suggestions for more options gratefully accepted.

By the way, Vereshegin died in 1904 - he had been invited along for the ride by a Russian admiral during the Russo-Japanese War and his ship was torpedoed, drowning Vereshegin. According to Wikipedia he not only has a town named after him but also a minor planet (now how cool is that?)


  1. Hi Malcolm - good to see you at the show. I love that painting, although I suspect he's telescoped the composition as I recall reading somewhere that the marshals woudl be standing some way behind Napoleon. Anyway, it's a great piece of art. Glad you enjoyed the show.


  2. Hi Malcom, enjoyed reading this post. Also like your banner/headline blurb: I too have recently joined the bogging community, and the way it connects one to the wargaming world is a great motivator.