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Re: War of Spanish Succession - Kronoskaf website

Slightly different topic, but as the discussions move ever further down the page, I'll include this here.

I mentioned Wootton's painting of Blenheim in an older thread, just found two other interesting versions:

this time obviously British horse without cuirass, painting from 1715 and:

two different units of cuirassiers, one in buff coats the other in red. From 1714. Judging by the outfit of the generals this seems a more idealized version, don't think anyone wore full plate a the battle.

Re: War of Spanish Succession - Kronoskaf website

Thank you for these further painting references. As I think we agree, paintings of the period tend to 'glorify' the commanders, with the details of troops and units rather more obscure and, perhaps, somewhat inaccurate.

Nevertheless, when it comes to painting commanders and personalities for our 1/72 armies, these are useful references.

I note that the Ross painting is/was the picture used for the dust jacket of the definitive book by the late David Chandler, 'The Art of Warfare in the Age of Marlborough'.

There are, of course, also the Blenheim Tapestries:

I am fortunate to live within about one hour's drive of Blenheim when it re-opens after being closed for the pandemic, I hope to go there and see these tapestries 'for real'. But even these have to be used in moderation as references: they were produced some years after Marlborough's campaigns, and again may be seen primarily as a means of further glorifying the Duke himself.

Re: War of Spanish Succession - Kronoskaf website

The Blenheim tapestries are of course a very interesting source of information too.
Possibly Louis Laguerre's works (in Plas Newydd, Anglesey, if I'm not mistaken) is as close to the real thing as we may get. You probably know the triptych by (or attributed to) Laguerre featuring three scenes from the battle. On the right it shows Eugenes attack on the French left wing with some cuirassiers in buff coats and tricornes. Also interesting is that all the British grenadiers have their hair cut very short (in his depiction of Malplaquet as well) and the officers all wear a mix of normal coats in red, blue, sometimes white and only a few have a cuirass.

Re: War of Spanish Succession - Kronoskaf website

Yes, thank you for the Laguerre reference, Flambeau. I agree that, given that the works were painted quite soon after Blenheim (within 10 years), they are likely to be more accurate than later depictions. The points of detail eg: British grenadiers and their cropped hair, are worth knowing. Let's bear in mind also that beneath the big wigs gentlemen-of-quality also had close-cropped hair. Laguerre (in the oil sketch at Marlborough House) also shows a slain French Maison du Roi (Gendarme or Garde du Corps) officer at the feet of Marlborough and Eugene - quite symbolic this, the defeat of the French Royal Household - with his (the Frenchman's) wig falling away to reveal a close-cropped scalp.

The variety of coat colours for senior officers reveals that, in an age where wealth and aristocratic title allowed you to do almost as you wished, commanders would not necessarily wear a 'uniform'.

There are some interesting notes here:

Re: War of Spanish Succession - Kronoskaf website

Thanks for the link, Minuteman. Doing some research is as much a fun part of the hobby as collecting and painting, isn't it? Especially on a dark, rainy day.
A nice weekend to all of you out there!

Re: War of Spanish Succession - Kronoskaf website

Thanks for sharing these links. As fun as research can be, I have very little spare time due to my work commitments, so I rely on other people to do the hard work and post links and screenshots etc to the useful pictures and info on uniforms!

Re: War of Spanish Succession - Kronoskaf website

Interesting perspective on the "Marlborough at Ramillies" painting by Laguerre - I had always understood the dead figure without his wig at Marlborough's feet not to be a Frenchman but Marlborough's equerry Colonel Bingfield, who was famously decapitated by a cannonball while helping Marlborough remount during the battle. While the graphic decapitation could be shown on things like contemporary playing cards, an academic painting would not be so lurid and would simply show the unfortunate Bingfield in a pose of dignified death.

The reason for my interpretation is that there are two other dead figures in the foreground before Marlborough, and they very much resemble Allied horsemen (English and Dutch, or possibly Prussian) rather than Frenchmen who are shown in dark gray in the background melee.

Re: War of Spanish Succession - Kronoskaf website

Indeed Samogon, and I guess that only Monsieur Laguerre would be able to tell us what he intended by the prominent dead/prone figure in red. To my eyes the uniform of the casualty looks so much like that of a French Maison du Roi Gendarme ie: more so than a British officer, that I feel this is the intention of the artist; plus the fact that Marlborough himself seems remarkably composed in the painting, hardly the face of a man who has just in the last few minutes seen his aide decapitated...and indeed of a man who has missed being killed himself by a mere few centimetres.

But who are we to say after so many centuries have passed since the painting was made?