Wednesday, 24 August 2011

What I bought on my holiday...

...were these.

I had originally intended to keep this blog to be related purely to 'things medieval'. However I will break this self-imposed rule, as I want to share some images of these military-related items that I purchased on a market stall in France when recently on holiday.

They are glass slides for an antique light protector, showing various figures from French armies of the Seven Years War and Napoleonic periods. They are about a foot long by 3 and 1/2 inches high and are fairly fragile things. There are six of them, which were sold in a thin wooden case. There's spare room in the case, to suggest that originally there may have been ten or a dozen different slides. The quality and fineness of the painted images done directly on to the glass, are really excellent and each has a description for example 'fusilier' and some have a date for the figure too. I've only done a little digging on the internet and would love to know more on these and to try and date them etc. My guess is that they are late ninteenth century, when such lightboxes were around, either for private use or for public viewings before the advent of cinema. The box has a label on it for Au Nain Bleu, which is a toyshop in Paris, opened in 1837 and still in business, which could be the provenance for them.

If anyone has any more background info, I really love to know more?

Wednesday, 17 August 2011

What I did on my holidays...

well...not a lot of painting of wargame figures unfortunately. A combination of very warm weather (which I find dries the paints too fast when working 'al fresco') and the distractions of good food, a swimming pool, my books and local attractions meant that much less than planned was done.
On the latter here are some pictures of a visit to Castlenaud which was nearby and is perched on the Dordogne river. Since my first visit to the castle about 15 years ago, the exhibits of arms and armour inside the castle have increased significantly in both quantity and quality. I have no idea where all these items have been acquired from, but if they are genuine, they are most impressive and make the trip there more than just a walk around an old stone building.

You'll hopefully be able to see that the open sallet has the distinctive manufacturing marks of the Missiligia armourers workshop and the collection of crossbows, which are often rare items, is excellent. Another intersting item is the archer's brace, which I assume is a decorative one - as it's beautifully carved from bone - rather than for practical use. Outside are a variety of reconstrcuted trebuchets, which are demonstrated each day in the summer, as well as a bombard and mantlets. The castle itself has been partially restored from semi-derelction since the 1960s, and it has a nice example of one bastion having been 'updated' in the sixteenth century to accommodate bigger artillery. It's strategic position is clear, whcih great vistas up and down the river and guarding a crossing. Consequently in the Hundred Years War it's occupancy changes hands amny times between the English and French.

I'll be back very soon with some figures - to ensure that this blog doesn't become 'castle visits' only content - no more planned for this year!