Saturday, 22 August 2015
Painting War - Napoleonic British Army
Last July I reviewed the Painting War - French Army publication featuring the work of Rafa Perez which made a welcome addition to the painters guide library for Napoleonic enthusiasts.
So it was with a certain amount of anticipation that I felt when I immediately ordered my copy of the follow up edition looking at the British, KGL and Portuguese troops of the period featuring the work of Jose Antonio Bustamente.
The book layout follows the format of the previous title, with sections covering a general painting guide to standard parts of the uniforms and equipment, painting horses, doing base work and rank insignia. These are then followed with individual sections looking at particular subjects and the peculiarities involved in painting them.
Subjects covered include:
Centre Company Fusilier 27th Foot 1806
Centre Company Fusilier 36th Foot 1808
Captain 95th Rifles 1808
Sergeant Centre Company 2nd KGL in Great Coat 1811
Sergeant Light Company 3rd Guards 1809
Standard Bearer (Ensign) 43rd Foot 1809
Portuguese Cacador 6th Regt 1810
Brunswick Oel Jager 1813
Portuguese Grenadier Sergeant 23rd Infantry 1814
Fusilier Grenadier Company 92nd Highlanders 1815
Gunner Royal Artillery 1811
Gunner Royal Horse Artillery 1811
British Artillery Cannon 1811
Portuguese Trooper 8th Cavalry Regt 1810
Dragoon 5th Dragoon Guards 1812
Trumpeter, 2nd Life Guards 1812
Lieutenant 16th Light Dragoons 1815
Officer, 1st KGL Hussars 1815
Sir Arthur Wellesley, Duke of Wellington 1812
Aide de Camp, Captain 7th Royal Fusiliers 1814
Sir Thomas Picton 1815
Sapper, 7th Royal Fusiliers 1811
Drummer 2/39th Foot 1811
Drummer 92nd Highlanders 1815
Lieutenant Royal Navy 1805
Royal Marine 1812
Surgeon 57th Foot 1813
I think you will agree a fairly extensive selection which gives a good spectrum of different uniform types, and is good stuff.
An improvement I noticed is that this title has a credit for an English proof reader, Major Michael Koznarsky, which seems to have removed some of the interesting prose of the previous title and makes it an easier read.
I have to say though that I was a little underwhelmed by this follow up title for a few key reasons.
I can't say I was taken with Jose Bustamante's painting style or basing technique. I know this is a personal view and others may find it great, but it didn't have a "wow" factor for me and I feel that is important to grab the reader and get them wanting to dive in and find out more. I flicked through the book and being slightly disappointed put it down and came back to it later to see if I was missing something.
The other issue for me is that British uniforms of this period may seem familiar to the general Napoleonic enthusiast, but there are, as with the other nations, peculiarities, that in 28mm and to an extent 18mm can and, to my mind, should be illustrated.
Firstly, Jose uses a Vallejo base of Burnt Cadmium Red, mid coat Carmine Red/white mix and scarlet highlight for what is described in the general section as the coat. However British infantry officers and soldiers wore different quality coats, with the better off officer version being a more scarlet hue and the common soldier having a more faded orange based cheaper tunic, that faded even more in the peninsula. In 28mm this is easily replicated with the officers and sergeants standing out from the common soldiers with their more deeper scarlet tunics.
The illustration of the 27th Inniskilling fusilier, is ok but fails to show a soldier from a buff faced battalion with his more typical buff coloured cross belts. In fact all belts are described as white, which they were not.
The illustration of the Portuguese Grenadier Sergeant of the 23rd Infantry has him still wearing the early war barretina shako, depicting a soldier of this type in 1814, when the Portuguese stove pipe shako would have been more likely.
I was a bit surprised at the colour shade for the British cannon which looks a bit strange in the light grey and bright gunmetal finish depicted. I would have expected a more bluer grey choice.
The choice of the blue for the water canteen seemed a bit to purple in hue for my taste with a more lighter blue being the colour used on the real examples I have seen
The section on insignia could have covered off the variation in British battalions around their headdress for example. There are lots of various illustration of shakos with small bugle horns above or below the standard Line Infantry shako plate denoting a light company man, or the 28th Foot with the badge at the back in recognition of their stand at Alexandria, or the red hackle carried by highlanders of the 42nd Foot (Black Watch), or the elite company wings carried by all companies of fusiliers.
And finally, with a book covering the British and Allied troops in the Peninsular War, where was the Spanish brown cloth worn by all sides in the conflict? Other than the standard brown Cacadore, not one subject was shown in an item of brown replacement clothing.
So in conclusion, this new title is ok to a point but I think you will need to look at other material to get a more complete idea of the look of these troops.