Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Bruno Mugnai's Hungarian Hussar late XVI century

I first mentioned messer Bruno Mugnai, Italian artist and historian,  in connection to his book, vol.1, on the Long Turkish War (der Der lange Türkenkrieg - )1593-1606. Then I did this little review - :)
so, I have learned that the Italian  company Soldiershop  Publishing is about to release the second volume on this conflict, again co-authored between Bruno and Chris Flaherty.
Maestro Bruno sent me a painting showing a late XVI century Hungarian hussar based on various engravings from the period, including Lucas Mayer et al.

It is certainly a very interesting and creative reconstruction of one of these lancers - Bruno, a Florentine artist being a traditional and digital medial artist, apart from Photoshop also uses GIMP and other digital programs to finalize  his art, I am happy to report - :)

More images here - Bruno's website
or here, below - versatile military art of Bruno


Sunday, May 24, 2015

Polska kawaleria jedzie na Waterloo 2015

gratulacje dla dr Dudy i jego wyborcow !

Polska kawaleria jedzie na Waterloo -  ulani i konie potrzebują wsparcia - eg , ten wstęp i  ten artykuł do tematu  - strona na 'Fejsbuku' z wieloma zdjeciami

2 Pułk Ułanów Księstwa Warszawskiego - wielkie tradycje -
nota bene szczerze polecam prace mości Andrzeja Ziółkowskiego pt ''Pułki Ułanów Księstwa Warszawskiego – 6-ty, 3-ci, 2-gi – 1807-1812'', wydana jeszcze w zeszłym roku... będzie tom II . Wtedy napisze recenzje na temat, choć tom I już mam.

Waterloo 1815-2015 - wielka rocznica końca Epopei Napoleońskiej

Vivat :)
Andrzej S. Duda, Ph.D in law,  appears to have won the Polish Presidential Elections 2015 - I am very glad :) - congrats to us all in the Polish Diaspora and in Poland - Vivat!

Saturday, May 23, 2015

Sketches and ideas

I have been busy with some ideas and sketches, but meantime ISIS took over the town of Tadmor and the ancient city of Palmyra, if they carry their promises and follow the same path they have been taking in Iraq then the ancient City is in danger of destruction - sort of a new wave of iconoclasm...

Polish game designers - CD Projekt -  released several days about the new game based on the adventures of witcher/wiedzmin Geralt z Riwii (of Rivia) - I read the saga by Andrzej Sapkowski in the 1990s, loved it must say :) - and we just ordered the new game, hope to do a little game soon ...

I have been playing with some ideas and sort of copied, in ballpen, a detail from a painting by Jozef Brandt. I live practicing by copying Brandt's horses and riders .

another theme I been doing some reading about has to do with the American Southwest during the era of the Spanish colonial rule. I sketched a cibolero figure, very rough idea , more to follow in the future

well, until the next time

Friday, May 22, 2015

Presidential Elections in Poland 2015

from time to time I will throw in some politics in here, being homo politicus (in Platon's sense) to the bone, after all in our Western democracy it behooves one to be a political animal.

Republic of Poland will held second round of her presidential elections on Sunday, May 24, 2015.

So in order to do some campaigning in favour of my candidate I am posting two images - dr Andrzej S. Duda -

Wybory prezydenckie w Polsce - druga tura - moj kandydat  dr Andrzej S. Duda!
                                                              - :)
first image from a pannel painted by Leon Wyczółkowski 
second is from a lovely photo taken by the world famous horse archer and gentleman 'extraordinaire' Ali Ghoorchian ...
New Witcher - Geralt z Rywii / Geralt of Rivia- is out, but do read the books 

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

'Husaria Rzeczpospolitej' Winged Hussars of Respublica

Salve amici,
  a book  'Husaria Rzeczpospolitej'  

ISBN 978-83-64185-64-9
Size 248 x 300 mm
Pages 330
Hardcover with a tradejacket
so today let me add a 'shortish' '' review'' of this album, quite recently published in Poland, titled: 'Hussars of the Republic' by two Radosław's - Sikora et Szleszyński. I published a review of 'Husaria Rzeczpospolitej' abum in Polish already in January 2015.
Above,  a link to a random bookstore, my own copy arrived via EMPIK (one of the bookselling chains in Poland).

Ad rem, so I have before me this beautiful album, heavy in content and smelling deliciously of good quality, heavy paper,
It is divided in two parts – the texts – primary sources and iconography – images from the rea -1520s through 1780s; this coffee table book is so full of primary source materials in its text part that it may overflow many a reader, causing too much pleasure in reading the historical texts, for such collection has never been done in English nor French (as the primary sources are printed in three languages) , The iconography part, oo la la - it is just the 'sweetest' display of the winged hussars glory – a tribute to the most beautiful cavalry in the world that the Polish-Lithuanian winged hussars were.

Then content - at first viewing I omitted primary source texts, and immediately threw myself at the brilliant pictures: the Orsha panel from the National Museum (Warsaw), from Pelpin (Cathedral Basilica), and their quality did not disappoint my expectations. Moreover, as the presentation is going chronologically from the oldest to the final historic images and first reconstructions done under His Royal Majesty king Stanislas Augustus, thus we find a lot of good pictures of the famous painting of the Battle of Orsha, the siege of Polotsk AD 1579, Stockholm Roll, Kircholm panel, perhaps a bit strange 'cut' of hussars from Kielce (Bishop's Castle ceilings), Tczew AD 1627, Smolensk 1633-4, plenty of Vienna 1683 campaign, Kalisz AD 1706; there are numerous prints, murals and funerary monuments etc. Sweet as honey this collection is :)
I will add a little more about the funerary monuments & tombstones aka sculptures that perhaps for the first time, have been collected in the context of winged hussars in anylanguage publication. This is obviously not an exhaustive collection of these works of the Polish Renaissance and Sarmatian art, but definitely quite pioneering - ok, maybe not quite, because the 'Polish Winged Hussar' (the Osprey) book by Richard Brzezinski has a great tombstone bas-relief of the church in Sucha, near Strzelce Opolskie, depicting a winged hussar Piotr Strzela, Moravian, who died in 1600 AD - unfortunately, this relief is not in the album.

Several important winged hussars paintings etc are not to be found in this album: Klushino 1610, or Chocim 1673, or the figural fittings of the Grand Hetman Żółkiewski coffin, no winged hussars and horses from the Gołuchow Panel (Poznan National Musem), and several other famous ones which should have been here , but on the other side of this spectrum  the authors have added details of the historical pictures painted  the famous Venetian  painter and king Poniatowski court  artist Bacciarelli though equally they could have added some by Aleksander Orlowski, Jean Pierre Norblin or Smuglewicz etc.

When it comes to 'the published source material , this is definitely the most laudable approach to the presentation of the sources written in multiple languages, the period writers describing our winged horsemen in their glory, however, English collection clearly stands out because of the not so perfect translation - well, it seems that the translator has yet a lot to learn, but then it is not easy to translate historical texts from Polish to English... Nota bene on page 15 there is my own translation of the Old Spanish into Polish - the glory of the Fatherland :)

Maybe a little of the beginning - well, the album opens with a graceful essay on the winged hussars, and includes, of course, many views propounded in the books et  articles written by Radek Sikora , we have a list of the most interesting achievements of hussars between AD 1574 and AD 1694 ​​(English version pages 45 - 47. French on pages 77 - 80), here,   I think the book could have used a table of contents for all text in the album, as well as a list of illustrations, it would have been am easy and clear method for the reader /collector to peruse this beautiful publication.
Looking back at the iconography of our winged horsemen presented in the album – I think that even some very 'thin' analysis of iconographic material could have added a lot to the understanding of the imagery and history of our cavalrymen. Well, it's too late, but it remains a gap, and a user without some prior knowledge of the winged hussars iconography must remain dazzled by the pictures but not quite educated. Moreover, our authors' make  a claim about the XIX century paintings and how they, the Polish  artists of the period,  falsified the image of the winged hussars when contrasted with the original iconography. Unfortunately this idea strongly worded by the authors must remain open, as there is not supporting discussion of this thesis in the text with references to the iconography presented etc.

But I can add a word or two about the XIX century winged hussar reconstructions in paint and pen or pencil mentioned in the text. 'Having educated myself ' on works of our XIX century Polish painters, I do not think that the image of winged hussars conjured  by Orlowski, Suchodolski, Kossaks (father and son), Brandt, Pawliszczak or Grottger and Rozwadowski et al., had been falsified, moreover I think their image was particularly tailored to the times of Poland's disappearance from the world's map  and  they responded to the need of the enslaved Polish Nation for some glory and hope, and where to find a better imagery of glory than in the winged hussars, especially in the images that these painters conjured.
While the so called scientific  reconstruction of winged hussars really begun only in the 1930s,  our XIX century painters were not just simply imagining their winged hussar. True they, of course, used their artistic skill and heart to conjure those paintings, but more than anything they were also doing lots of research by perusing then existing arms and amour collections and archives kept by the  aristocrats, nobility, and rich bourgeoisies in the partitioned Poland and abroad, by reading the historical accounts printed, written or preserved via families oral histories . Hence their image of the winged hussar is as  valid reconstruction as they could have achieved, based in the the primary source materials and artifacts  they had access to and their own understanding of these materials and our Polish-Lithuanian past.

Finally, I will add, mainly because the authors  announced, in the introduction to this album, that there might be a volume II in the near future. that it is perhaps a pity that the authors decided to present the collected materials in this fashion ( true, it is a chronological order)  without some partitioning and classifying this collection, let us say, by dividing it  into two parts: the sixteenth century to the AD1648, and Volume II from the Cossack wars to end the existence of hussars, or the collection might have been divided methodologically according to the reigns of our monarchs etc. I think that the album would have been clearer and above all easier to peruse , be it for the specialist or the amateur history of the winged hussars … 

Ergo, I am eagerly waiting for the album Number II, -:)

Closing, I am going to rate this publication, using rating – 1 to 5 stars .

I will judge this album to be '4 stars and a half' as a whole, but when it comes to the quality definitely I am giving them '5 stars'.


- :) 

Monday, May 18, 2015

St. Martin at Poznań - kings & winged hussars


continuing with the theme of Saint Martin of Tours i would like to bring to your attention a painting from Poznań, w Greater Poland,

that not only brings the narration of our Saint sharing his cloak with a beggar while entering Amiens (France), but also it is a large and equestrain group portrait of the Polish Crown rulers, king Sigismund (the first imaged in this post) and his son Wladyslaw, and magnates and important figures, and also winged hussars of the era, all armoured from cap to toe -:) .  it was painted by a local artisit and priest - Krzysztof Boguszewski Ostoja coat of arms, circa 1628 and is located in St. Martin chappel at the Archcathedral Basilica of St. Peter and St. Paul, Poznań.
winged hussars

By the way, in Poznań  there is a church named St.Martin, and from that church runs  a main street named Saint Martin Street (the Polish-Soviet Communists tried to obliterate this name, and failed) and each  year on November 11 you can eat a special Saint Martin croissant - 'rogal świętomarciński' - as Poznań celebrates this Saint's name day :) with a parade and sweets.

Sunday, May 17, 2015

The Long Turkish war vol. I - review

some time ago I mentioned receiving a copy of a smartly published  - Soldiershop Publishing from Italy in 2014 - Osprey-size volume titled ''Der lange Turkenkrieg (1593-1606) vol. I'' or ''La Lunga Guerra Turca/ The Long Turkish War.' It can be had in an e-book format too.
So I am going to write my two cents about this publication, especially since the second volume should be coming out shortly this year.

This book is part of the general series titled  'Soldiers & Weapons,' hence numbered 24, its ISBN 979-88-96519-69-1, authored by two writers and artists Chris Flaherty and Bruno Mugnai.
It is 82 pages long and printed on a very, very good quality paper, much better than Osprey's men-at-arms et al., with a crisp and very clear typeset, thus all the black-and-white period illustrations are also very clear and sharp, even the small ones. And illustrations are aplenty inside the book, but I am getting ahead of myself.
The text is bilingual, in Italian (left side of each page ) and English (on the right) (in case of illustrations the Italian text first and under it the English one), with very, very few typos in English (I cannot vouch for Italian), easy to follow and one could attempt to learn some Italian from this presentation :) .
 So the book starts with an preface, then contents, and the body of text  is divided into clear and informative sections/chapters:
- Introduction of the subject: Der lange Turkenkrieg or the Ottoman-Habsburg war of 1593-1606
- Ottoman Empire army
- Military Border of Hungary and Croatia
- Principality of Transylvania
- Military Operation on the Hungarian Front 1593-96
- finally, the Notes on the color plates
There is half page big order of battle - Ottoman victory at the battle of Keresztes 24th October 1596 ( but battle of Sisiak is also described); also only one and rather small map showing the theater of this war - the Ottoman-Habsburg borderlands in Hungary, Croatia etc.

The text is profusely illustrated with period prints and details of paintings, and modern photos of monuments, forts, castles, weapons and armor. Separate category is occupied by the color reconstructions of the soldiers of this conflict - and there are two subcategories of these:
one set, painted by Bruno Mugnai, numbered from A to H, this set has a separate chapter of commentaries on illustrations at the end of the book.
second set - colored line diagrams drawn by Chris Flaherty (I am presuming based on the copyright mark) consisting of 3 plates with text - one showing Ottoman war wagon. 
I particularly like the 8-plate sets painted by Bruno, a Florentine artist, with a list of previous publications on the European and other military history. There is lots of information inhere and the size, albeit a bit smaller than typical Osprey, is still big enough to give you plenty of information of their equipment, even the individual soldiers features etc.  I may not agree with all the information collected and  presented but I do like the result and give it a very high note.
Note that this is the period when the Hungarian and Transylvanian hussars were very similar to the Polish winged hussars.

So,summing up, the text devoted to this conflict is very clear and concise and completely focused on the subject of the Long War, it being rather very arcane to an American or British Commonwealth reader,  and I learned a bit there too. While the historical prints and modern illustrations complement the text and enrich many a reader understanding of this conflict and visualization of the warring sides.
Second volume becomes a must for me, having whetted my appetite on the first one.
I give this book out of 10 points a high note of 8, I would favour larger map/s, more orders of the battle sequences, and larger illustrations - all could be accomplished by enlarging the book to an Osprey -warrior series size, or by about 2 cm in width and 1cm in height.

Bruno Mugnai holds the copyright to these images.

Friday, May 15, 2015

Palmyra - a treasure of civilisation

I read this article yesterday - from BBC - that ISIS is getting ready to take Palmyra in Syria, the ancient 'queen' of the silk and spice trade for the Roman Empire, capital of the short lived empire, of which Odaenathus and   Zenobia are the most famous. The ruins of  ancient Palmyra are amazing and a world heritage site

Destroyed twice, be the Aurelian's legions in 273AD (Zenobia et al in this  article by Jacqueline F. Long) , and by the Timur's legions in 1400AD, it had been lost until the XVII century when European travelers rediscovered the city.

You can browse these wonderful images (eg via Univ. of Heidelberg digital library collection) from the XVIII century book on the exploration of the city by Robert Wood, English traveler and writer etc.

Professor Albert Dien wrote a very interesting and comprehensive article on the ancient Palmyra, the city of caravans - strongly encourage you to read it.

I like the Victorian  travel (and spy) reports and there are some on - eg this one. has plenty or articles on the subject..

On the armies of ancient Palmyra - an intro (for wargamers) and an Osprey by Dr David Nicolle - via Amazon.
Harry Sidebottom wrote a series titled 'Warrior of Rome,' where the main character is taken from a historical Roman warrior and general Marcus C. Ballista, and in the book 'Lion of the Sun' Ballista and Odaenathus meet in circumstances described by Historia Augusta etc.

But soon it may be but a memory (and some photos and drawings) of the by-gone ancient Hellenistic (Aramaic, Amorite, Nabatean, and Greek with some Roman influences) civilization site, as ISIS allegedly vows to destroy the ancient city during the ongoing war in the Middle East.


Zdzisław Żygulski junior - pacem aeternam

sad news -   Zdzisław Żygulski jr, Polish pre-eminent arms and armour historian and prolific writer on the Oriental art, passed away yesterday,  and with his passing a certain era in Old Poland's art history research has ended.

I have been influenced by pan Zdzisław's books and articles (eg on amazon), especially these titles (I have them at home in my 'real' library):
'Stara Bron w Polskich Zbiorach'
'Husaria Polska'
'Ottoman Art in the Service of Empire'
'Broń w dawnej Polsce'
'Sztuka turecka'
'Broń wschodnia. Turcja, Persja, Indie, Japonia'

Pacem aeternam maestro

Monday, May 11, 2015

St. Martin and Polish coat of arms at Dingolfing

beg your forgiveness for this rather long absence, so back to bloggin' I hope, as I have been busy with some work et projects.. while time flies faster than a crow.

ad r em, I am always interested in Medieval and Renaissance imagery showing horses, riders and their equipment. Christian (Catholic) religious art gives us plenty of opportunity to find such imagery.

Apart from the famously and easily recognizable Saint George, another early saint comes to my mind - Saint Martin of Tours – who has been a subject of many works of art and as such became one of the more popular riders in ... art history.

So while looking at the Wiki Commons depository of many images related to our Saint Martin, who was an actual Roman soldier of the elite cavalry unit Equites Cataphractii Ambianenses, or so say some historians, I came across this late XV century painted image, a fresco, from a St. Johannes church at Dingolfing, in Bavaria (Germany).
bridle with reins

Interestingly the horse is not painted as a stallion or a gelding

And while reading about the church I came across this beautiful painted image of two coats of arms:
the duke of Bavaria-Landshut and King of Crown of Poland and Duchy of Lithuania.

The occasion for such display was the famous wedding between George, the Duke of Bavaria-Landshut and the Polish princess Hedwig Jagiellon (Jadwiga Jagiellonka), celebrated at Landshut in  AD1475.

another image of the joined coat of arms

and some more of Duke George and Duchess Hedwig.


St. Martin of Tours may visit this blog more often in the future
images are from wikipedia commons

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Sassanian plate from Mogunticum - Mainz

while visiting Römisch-Germanisches Zentralmuseum (RGZM) in the ancient city of Moguntiacum aka Mainz I came across this interesting Sassanian plate, allegedly from VI-VII century AD, and an example of the Sassanian metal art  - frankly I have never seen one like that before I think

Any ideas?
nota bene the Mainz museum has some amazing artifacts from the Late Antiquity and early Middle Ages, a true gem and its is free to enter...