Friday, 30 September 2016

Riding the Tiger

My Polish lancers are in need of a colonel, so the figure I've selected is the most Polish-looking figure I could find. He is, of course, none other than Prince Joachim Murat, Marshal, Admiral, Duke of Cleve-Berg and King of Naples.

Prince Charming, Prince Charming...
The figure is the David Clayton version of Hinton Hunt FN 351: Prince Murat, in plumed "lancer" cap & fur trimmed braided coat, seated upon horse FNH 11.

He's painted exactly as recommended in Marcus Hinton's painting instructions, which state that it was the costume Murat wore during the Russian campaign of 1812. Judging from the contemporary iconography, however, I suspect it more closely resembles the uniform Murat wore during the Polish campaign of 1807. Dazzled by the ecstatic public reception he had received on entering Warsaw, Murat began to fancy himself as the next Polish king and dressed himself accordingly. Napoleon, however, failed to take the hint, telling him: "Go and put on your proper uniform; you look like a clown".


Murat's reputation as a dandy with an eye for the main chance was more than made up for by his flashes of brilliance as a cavalry commander. His bravery, however, tended towards recklessness. It was a character flaw that would eventually lead to his execution by a Neapolitan firing squad in 1815. Having fallen from the tiger, Murat simply couldn't resist climbing back on again and making a reckless attempt to regain his throne.


...Ridicule is nothing to be scared of.!

I was quite daunted by the this figure when I first saw him as it required so many elements that I haven't attempted before. I also spent a very long time gazing at photographs of tigers!



WM









20 comments :

  1. Ahhhhhhhhh, Murat, a legend! Great job...

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Cheers Phil. There's always a bit of nervousness involved in tackling a legend!

      Delete
  2. Lovely figure - nice idea and beautifully executed. I once painted a tiger-skin shabraque for an HH Stapleton Cotton figure - sometime in the last century (it may have been the one before). I had little idea what I was doing, of course, but it turned out better than expected. Fine - then, alas, I went through a strange period when I decided to replace all my HH staff figures and personalities, and Cotton went down the eBay tube, along with some other worthies. When I saw the light - and started trying to undo the damage (poorer but maybe a little wiser) - I was now a far more competent painter, and my replacement HH Cotton was painted in state of the art acrylics. You know what? - I really struggled with that tiger skin, and it's still not so hot - my new Stapleton Cotton is not nearly so fine as the original. Life lesson, you see.

    As for Murat, I remember reading one of those what-if alternative history efforts, in which it was claimed that Waterloo would have been a lot different if Napoleon had used Davout as a field commander instead of Minister of War, if Berthier had not fallen out of the window and if Napoleon had still been able to call on Murat to lead the cavalry. Interesting, though of course it overlooks the fact that the actual quality of the French army in 1815 was hardly Grande, and that they would have been soundly whupped by the Allies within a few weeks - but interesting anyway.

    Thanks for sharing the splendid picture, and giving me an opportunity for my Saturday morning ramble.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I shall take that one to heart, Foy!

      This particular tigerskin was a bit of an experiment. Humbrol oranges are altogether a bit too fluorescent, so what I decided to do instead was paint the shabraque yellow and then stain it with brown ink, followed by a little more yellow drybrushing. It turned out to be much easier than I expected.

      Delete
    2. How do you get on using inks with Humbrol? I've largely given up on inks, since some of them lift when varnished.

      Delete
    3. I used a brown calligraphy ink in this case, but also use black drawing inks on occasion. The way to stop them lifting, I've found, is to coat them with an oil-based varnish (I use a Winsor and Newton product) to seal them before applying the final water-based acrylic varnish over the whole figure.

      Delete
  3. Now what you need is: http://en.empirecostume.com/murat-les-uniformes-de-la-legende-a1787.htm

    I can see a series of Mad Gascons. Which Murat shall I field today?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I wondered about doing a few more Murats. Lamming and Alberken both did him, so one could indeed start a little collection of them. I particularly fancy the white one he wore at Austerlitz.

      Delete
  4. A gorgeously executed figures, and yes! By all means, develop your Murat collection.

    Best Regards,

    Stokes

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. You are very kind, Stokes. I sometimes think that this project is mainly about providing attractive backdrops for the personality figures, so I may do as you suggest! I already have the Lamming Murat, and the Alberken version is in the post.

      Delete
  5. Your very own Franconi the circus rider - very nice indeed!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Cheers Ian. That hat is something else, isn't it? It looks like a sort of mash up between the soft hat he wore at Eylau and some of the bizarre Polish-style hats he wore as King of Naples.

      The ancient edition of Marshal's biographies sitting on my bookshelves doesn't mention Franconi, but I'm sure the "clown" put down it does mention was the same incident!

      Delete
    2. The Franconi quote is from my copy of 'Napoleon and his Marshals' by Macdonell an excellent book I picked up second hand a few years ago.

      Delete
    3. I shall look out for it. The book I've got is "Napoleon's Marshals" by R.P. Dunn-Patterson, late Lieutenant Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders and sometime lecturer at Magdalen College Oxford (London: Methuen, 1909). I picked it up at Wellington primary school gala for about 50p! It's got some great prints.

      Delete
  6. You've done a fine job, as usual, but it's hard to take a man dressed like that seriously... maybe that explains his success - the enemy were too busy laughing...

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. It's rumoured that the legs will fall of his horse with a puff of smoke and loud bang, DC.

      Delete
  7. Replies
    1. Cheers Matt. I needed someone to put Marbot in his place!

      Delete