Saturday, 20 January 2018

A Swiss Confection

Well, I survived my encounter with the wild clans of the South Island and am back at my at my painting desk. To ease myself back into the painting groove I've decided to have a go at another general officer figure.

The figure I picked was another one of the Der Kriegspielers command figures (set #50) featured in a previous post. He is the generic French general figure, who is clearly based on a Hinton Hunt FN 224: French General. Interestingly the DK version has the horse's head turned slightly to the right, rather than to the left as in the HH version, and the rider's head is turned to the left rather than to the right.


My version of this figure is also painted red because he is to be Nicolas Antoine Xavier Castella de Berlens, who was the only officer in any of Napoleon's Swiss regiments to reach the rank of General de Brigade. The uniform he is wearing is based on a portrait which was probably painted in late 1815. I couldn't find a colour photo of this portrait, but an engraved copy can be seen in the Anne S.K. Brown Military Collection, here. He is to command the 3rd Swiss on the grounds that Marshal Soult always seemed a little too grand for that gig, and because I really fancy having a French general dressed in red!



Castella de Berlens started his military career in the Saxon Swiss Guards, but was persuaded to transfer to the French service (despite being a convinced Royalist) in 1806. He commanded the 2nd Swiss Regiment in Spain and Russia and was made a General de Brigade in 1813. It seems fairly clear, however, that he never went into in action in this capacity. Having been badly wounded in Russia, he sat out the 1813 and 1814 campaigns, and then made himself scarce (along with most of the other Swiss officers in Napoleon's service) during the Hundred Days.


To make his uniform conform to the portrait I filed off the single row of buttons running down his chest and replaced them with a double row, and also added a bit of fuse wire to represent the leather cord that he used to suspend his sabre. The only other thing required after that was a bit of filing and scoring of his pistol holsters to simulate the fur covers which can also be seen in the portrait.

I hope you like him.

WM

24 comments :

  1. That is an impressive job of refurbishing that figure. The general would be proud...

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  2. A lovely figure beautifully painted.
    Alan

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  3. He looks superb, well done!

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  4. Superb work WM - let's hope somebody tells the voltigeurs which side he's on!

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  5. Like him? we love him! Great piece of work WM. I assume the reorientation of the heads of man and horse is one thing of those minor tinkerings undertaken in the days when people thought that a minor change in an item meant that copyright no longer applied. Given that we regularly field forces that defy actual orbats it hardly matters that he was convalescing whilst the actual fighting was going on.

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  6. Both man and horse are two of the most stunning figures you have painted! Absolutely beautiful brushwork.

    Best Regards,

    Stokes

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  7. A very nice ‘gem’ like miniature...

    All the best. Aly

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  8. Thank you for your kind comments, Chaps.

    HUB - I stole your idea of painting the horse dark red and then staining it with brown ink. It produced a lovely, deep rich brown, just as you promised!

    LG - Quite so. One can't be toooo bothered by your actual history or anything!

    Stryker - he is rather British looking, isn't he. I'll have to keep him on the flank facing the Prussians.

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  9. He is stunning. The before and after photos really show off what you are able to do with these old figures.

    I look forward to reading of the exploits of your Swiss now they have such a well turned out officer to lead them.

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    1. I'm all in favour of badly painted originals, Mark. The worse they look the less likely it is that anyone will want to bid for them!

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  10. That seems to be an exceptionally large Swiss Army knife he's carrying

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    1. It's for whittling down those pesky Prussians, VW

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    2. Or taking the flash off horses' hooves

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  11. Lovely as ever, particularly keen on de Berlens' sash. These photos are really good, very big and lots of fine detail (depth of focus covers everything) - have you got a new camera? Is it just me or is there something statuesque about the hindquarters of his steed?

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    1. Cheers, Rob.
      It's the same old camera, although I bothered to polish the lens this time!

      I think the FN224 was Marcus's best figure. I particularly love the way the horse furniture drapes itself so luxuriously over the horse, which is by far and away the loveliest one that Marcus ever sculpted.

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  12. What a transformation. Brilliant!

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    1. Thank you ABC. As I said, there was actually rather a nice figure under that terrible paint job.

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  13. Here is a larger version of the General: https://www.google.com/search?q=Nicolas+Antoine+Xavier+Castella+de+Berlens&source=lnms&tbm=isch&sa=X&ved=0ahUKEwjR8e_B94jbAhVTz2MKHcqRBp8Q_AUIDCgD&biw=2021&bih=1099#imgrc=O7e1Ni6tsFsRdM:&spf=1526429100225

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  14. By the way, it looks like he is mounted on a rock, is that correct? I assume it is something that makes it easier to hold and paint. It also looks like you use it for testing the paint.

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    1. It's the screw cap from a wine bottle, CN. I've been using the same set of 12 caps for about three years now, which is why they've got so much paint on them. They're rather handy for wiping excess paint off from the brush tips!

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