Saturday, 19 November 2016

The Duellist

What with earthquakes and so forth, I haven't got quite as far with the first squadron of the Empress Dragoons as I'd hoped. However, I have finished their commander. He is Général de Division Phillipe-Antoine d'Ornano, who was a colonel of the Empress Dragoons from 1813 to 1815.

The figure I've used for him is a vintage Hinton Hunt FN 362: General Baraguey d'Hilliers, Colonel General of Dragoons. He was missing his horse (which should have been an FNH 10), so the mount I've given him instead is an FNH 2: French Guard Heavy Cavalry Horse, which was kindly donated by Hans. I've modified it slightly to turn it into an officer's horse by removing the portmanteau.

Born in Corsica on 1784, d'Ornano was a cousin of Napoleon's and served with distinction as a cavalry officer, fighting at Austerlitz and Jena. In 1808 he was made a Count of the Empire and spent the next few years in Spain and Portugal where he was promoted to général de brigade  at the battle of Fuentes de Onoro.

In 1812 d'Ornano took part in the Russian campaign. At Borodino he charged the enemy at the head of the cavalry of IV Corps, for which he was promoted to général de division. During the retreat he was wounded and left for dead but he clearly got out of Russia somehow as in 1813 he became a major colonel of the Empress Dragoons and would go on to fight at Dresden, Kulm, Leipzig, and Hanau.

When Napoleon returned to power in 1815 d'Ornano was placed in charge of the Empress Dragoons, but his hot-headedness prevented him from taking part in the Waterloo campaign. When General Bonet refused to salute him, d'Ornano considered himself insulted and the result was a duel.

There are various versions about what happened next, but it seems that the duel was fought on two consecutive days and ended when d'Ornano was gravely wounded. Bonet, it is said, was saved by a 5 franc coin in his pocket, which deflected d'Ornano's bullet.



D'Ornano eventually recovered from his wound and was briefly married to Napoleon's former mistress, Marie Walewska, with whom he had a son before her untimely death in 1817. D'Ornano himself lived until 1863. His descendants went on to found a perfume empire!

WM

14 comments :

  1. Very smart indeed! How can a duel go on for two days - intriguing.

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    1. Cheers, Ian.

      One story has it that having fired three shots at each other, and missed, they agreed to repeat the performance on the following day. Another is that it rained so hard on the first day that firing was completely impossible. They were evidently quite annoyed with each other, whatever the case.

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  2. Reminds me of Ridley Scott's film, where two French officers take the entire Napoleonic wars to complete their duel. I'm blowed if I can remember the plot, if any, but there are some fabulous uniforms. Anyway at least d'Ornano's family came up smelling of roses. Sorry. The figure is sublime. Brilliant job of removing the unwanted portmanteau.

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    1. Ridley Scott's "The Duellists" is one of my all-time favourites, Archduke, although I can't quite remember what happened in the end either!

      I wouldn't have dared trying that stunt with the horse if horse and rider had been a one piece casting!

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    2. Also one of my favourite movies, apparently d'Hubert (Keith Carradine) has Feraud (Harvey Keitel) at his mercy during the final duel but refuses to shoot him, insisting that he conducts himself in their future dealings as a dead man.No, I don't get it either! Interesting seeing the evolution of the French Hussar uniform from the Consular days through to later campaigns. Those long braids remind me of dreadlocks.

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    3. Merci bien, LG.

      He's a very nice and adaptable wee figure, this one. I just wish I had half a dozen of him!

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    4. I shall have to ferret out the DVD, Dave, which I vaguely remember seeing somewhere. However, it was so long ago that I might have had on VHS!

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  3. Yes, he is very handsome. Lovely brushwork as usual too. I especially like the color and detailing of the horse. Did you use oils or acrylics to paint it? Glazing over an initial base color, or something else?

    Best Regards,

    Stokes

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    1. Thank you, Sir.

      The horse was done with humbrols and ink, Stokes. It's a very quick and effective technique taught to me by Don, Hinton Hunt and DK collector extraordinaire and donator of many marvellous Prussians. It works brilliantly with these little 20mm jobs.

      I started with a bright white base coat which I then covered with Humbrol red-brown all over to give it a nice chestnutty hue. Once this was dry all I did then was wash it all over with thick brown calligraphy ink. This produces a wonderful, slightly randomised shading in all the right spots and is controllable to the extent that by dipping the brush in water its possible to thin out the parts that you want to remain highlighted. It was finished by drybrushing with red-brown and cream in various combinations. Exclusive of drying times, it all takes just a few minutes.

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  4. post script. Was the d'Ornano who emerged after the 1812 campaign really d'Ornano? Or was he the man who made sure d'Ornano was dead in the Russian snows and aspired to establish a perfume house...........

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