Monday, February 8, 2016

Bierstadt and the Indians & horses

our glorious New York Metropolitan Museum of Art made available, through google, many of its books.
In 'Masterpieces of American Painting in the Metropolitan Museum of Art' by Margaret M. Salinger or in 'American Paradise: The World of the Hudson River School' by John K. Howat we can read about and see works by Albert Bierstadt, that amazing German turned American who created magical canvass of the Great American West et al.
I want to bring to your attention one particular painting  -  The Rocky Mountains, Lander's Peak, one of the most beautiful scenes of native America ever created.
The Indians were studied carefully for this painting (artist made the trip and extensive preparations in the field during his trip in  , and the nomadic camp scene comes to life true and believable, not unlike in the paintings of Catlin, Bodmer or Alfred Jacob Miller. Bierstad knew Indians of the West and painted them aplenty - eg this gallery via Wikimedia Commons.  Including one of his most  famous works - The Last of the Buffalo, somewhat misleading title (as the bison herds were still plentiful and they remain so in this artwork) and yet a very dramatic and romantic.

Ms Salinger writes  [page 90] that these were the Shoshone Indians - some band  of the Eastern Shoshone to be exact. Like in this example by J.A. Miller, sketched before 1839, but finished circa 1858-60, so close to Bierstadt's own completion of Lander's Peak (1863).

There are horses and dogs, uff, many of them, evoking the scenes of camp life in any nomad village, be it on the Great Plains and Rockies plateaus, South American pampas or Eurasian steppe..
Hunting of big game was both glorious and necessary for the survival of the tribal hunters and gatherers, but we should note that also the same pursuit of big and small game was the way of the Eurasian nomads since the time immemorial. Hunting from horseback made it easier.
We get to see tipis/teepees open for the summer breeze, there are some saddles and other camp equipment, a caparisoned horse, and even a method of carrying the carcass of the huge wapiti(elk) on one's horse. The villagers next to the carcass of the grizzly bear are perhaps listening to a story of its conquest, while others are is busy with skinning the animals, leading horses, just riding or playing.The detail is unsurpassed I think.

 this Sioux village perhaps painted in the afternoon is also very bucolic and tranquil, guns and warriors appear harmless, just in their environment .. like the white dogs they all belong there.

Well, returning to the Lander's Peak, the sumer camp scene is glorious in the treatment of the subjects, in its setting and detail, seamlessly merging the native campsite full of life, custom, blood, dead animals, camp ruckus and lazy horses and yapping dogs with the divine grandeur of the Rocky Mountains environment, but I noticed that the horse blanket in the left side of the foreground is similar to the one in his painting of the Sioux village

  this Sioux village

Anyway, the glorious one in its entirety

and a detail from the Storm in the Rocky Mountains

and some horses painted by maestro Beirstadt

images are from Wikimedia Commons
very interesting works by Elbridge Ayer Burbank - master painter of the American Indians

Tuesday, January 26, 2016

16th Light Cavalry - videos

a great collection of historic videos showing the men and horses of the 16th Light Cavalry Regiment of the British India - still an existing unit of the modern Indian army.
The videos are courtesy of the National Army Museum - UK.

 Training horses for the 16th Light Cavalry at Sibi Camp, Baluchistan, 1935
 16th Light Cavalry Riding School, 1935
 Assault Course at the 16th Light Cavalry Riding School, 1935
16th Light Cavalry marching from Quetta to Sibi, 1935
16th Light Cavalry jumping a water obstacle, 1935

16th Light Cavalry at the Quetta Horse Show, 1935
 16th Light Cavalry polo players, 1935

Monday, January 25, 2016

Tadeusz Grabarczyk - Po racku, po husarsku z przyprawa tatarska...

I forgot to add this link some time ago and I would like to correct my negligence today -
namely, profesor Tadeusz Grabarczyk was kind enough to 'publish' on his academia. edu page one of his  late medieval military history articles  titled ''Po racku, po husarsku, z przyprawą tatarską - początki przemian wojskowości polskiej u schyłku XV wieku'' or ''In the 'Serbian' manner, in the hussar one, with the Tatar equipment - the beginning of changes in Polish military at the end of XV century.''

Set during the  reign of our two Jagiellon  brothers - Jan I Olbracht and Aleksander I Jagiellon, the period saw the dawn of new era in the Polish military,  including the emergence of the winged hussar horseman in the Kingdom of Poland in the late XV century.
Setting the 'Serbian' horsemen aside, sorry, let me move to the hussar question. So, our author quotes a roll document from AD 1498 which is a description of a cavalryman armed and present for the roll ' in hussar manner' - ''item Kalbel podnym kon plesnywy zryza nanym panczer hunskop pekelhaub plechowicze trcze drzewcze po hussarsku.'' (a horseman named Kalbel, [mounted on] a roan horse, armour, mail coif, pekilhube helmet, maile[?] gaunlets/mittens, shield, light lance [serving] in hussar manner) This is probably one of the earliest instances of a hussar warrior and his equipment serving for the Polish king that is surviving in our Polish sources.

Also, the author points that in the late XV and early XVI centuries in Polish and Hungarian Kingdoms there was a clear distinction between the 'Serbian' horsemen - armed with shield and lance, and horsemen armed in hussar manner - with armour, lance and shield.

The Tatar armament/equipment aspect of this article has to do with the mercenary service of some Tatar horsemen who served as mounted archers within some of  the 'lances' of the Grand Duchy of Lithuania companies. Interestingly in the surviving sources quoted by the author the Tatar-equipped horsemen rode geldings, a trait characteristic of the Turco-Tatar peoples of the Eurasian steppe and their preference for the geldings in warfare.


Saturday, January 23, 2016

Time of the Wolf - winter

I just finished reading another entry by one of my favourite writers - Arturo Perez-Reverte.
It is a simple and powerful piece about love for one's country, honour, duty, fighting, all within the larger and quite extraordinary  tale of the Spanish soldiers of La Romana Division who quite distant North in order to fight for their own people and country and king in the summer of 1808.
About 9,190  Spaniards crossed the Jutland peninsula and its islands to the Spanish-seized port of Nyborg, and there embarked  the British Navy ships for Spain, minus their horses. Spaniards did not kill their horses, unlike the English in Spain in December 1808, so many fine Iberian steeds run the beeches of Funen etc.
About 4,000 soldiers were late and unable to make it. And the protagonist of don Arturo's story was one of these unlucky souls.
Captain Antonio Costa, d'Algavre /Algabre Cavalry Regiment[1] of La Romana Spanish Division of the Napoleonic Army, brought his command to Funen/Fionia in Spanish/ Island but they were there too late to embark onto the English ships.
Soon they were faced with the overwhelming enemy, French and Danish troops under angry Marshall Bernadotte, so this senior captain of the Algabres refused to waste his soldiers' lives, took all the blame and then finally took his own life in order to save his soldiers, presumably wives and children too - like in this picture. The soldiers who stayed in Denmark served in the Napoleonic army until 1813 or so,  Joseph Napoleon's Regiment was the most distinguished of them.

I love Alfred Wierusz-Kowalski's winter scenes, many painted at Munich where Bavarian Kingdom was living its lasts days before being swallowed in to Prussian Germany.

You know, modern Germany was born in 1871, under the strong arms of the Prussian kings and their iron chancellors. Germans were strong then, so strong that they run into the dreadful combats of World War I to prove their masculinity, tarnished by the emperor Wilhem's court debaucheries. They were strong to attack the rest of the world in 1939 and kept going until the Soviets took Berlin and did what they did to their women there - .
    German government had invited millions of foreign people doing their Völkerwanderung from Asia and Africa to Europe in 2015, and the German police and soldiers are unwilling and/or unable to fight to protect their girls and women from assault and invasion like in Cologne and other German cities this winter. Shame!

Enjoy them
[1]According to Spanish Army of the Napoleonic Wars part 1, 1793-1808, Algabre heavy cavalry regiment had 5 squadrons of 2 companies each. Company was commanded by a captain, ought to have one lieutenant, one ensign, one first sergeant, two second sergeants, four corporals and 4 second corporals, one trumpeter, 4 carabiniers or elite troopers, 38 mounted troopers, 13 dismounted troopers. Each regiment had a staff of 8 field officers, 4 standardbearers, and a kettle-drummer. According to the book the regiment took part in the Rousiillion campaign in 1793-94. In 1807-8 should have had 800 men.

Friday, January 15, 2016

Wojciech Kossak - Wspomnienia ca 1913

Biblioteka archive org posiada ogromną kolekcje polsko-języcznych publikacji, głownie z kolekcji bibliotek amerykańskich i kanadyjskich sprzed II wojny światowej.
Miedzy innymi jest tamże książka autorstwa jednego z najsłynniejszych malarzy polskich mości Wojciecha Kossaka zatytułowaną ''Wspomnienia'', wydana  przez warszawską spółkę wydawniczą Gebethnera i Wolfa, a wydrukowaną przez Drukarnię Anczyca w Krawkowie w 1913 roku.

'Wspomnienia' są bardzo bogato ilustrowane - 92 ilustracje barwne i czarno-białe - i ponieważ zostały napisane przez jednego z wielkich gawędziarzy dawnej Polski, są rarytasem dla czytelnika lubiącego literaturę gawędziarską jak i dla studenta życia i twórczości mości Wojciecha Kossaka.
Duża cześć Wspomnień dotyczy pracy naszego mistrza na dworze pruskim Wilhelma II, gdzie był nadwornym malarzem, oraz okoliczności rozbratu z tymże monarchą.

Przy okazji parę ilustracji pochodzących z książki, wszystkie malunki i rysunki autorstwa pana Wojciecha.

Przykładowo jednym ze smaczków jest załączenie zdjęć, oprócz gawędy, wąwozu Somosierry, zrobionych podczas zbierania materiałów do panoramy bitwy pod Somosierra 1808.