Saturday, December 31, 2011

Hungarian horses

the horses of the Hungarian Plain through some of its history will be the last subject of this year's end blogging...

Let me start with Roman writer Vegetius who wrote about horses in his ''Artis veterinariæ sive mulomedicinæ..''
Vegetius on Hun horses ( translation from William Ridgeway, The origin and influence of the thoroughbred horse, 1905).

"The Hun hath a great and hooked head, and his eyes stand almost without his head, his nostrils are narrow, and his jaws broad, his neck is long and rough, with a mane hanging down nearly to his knees, he hath a large bulk, a right back, a long bush tail, his legs be strong, his pasterns small, and his hoofs full and broad, his guts are hollow, and all his body is full of empty corners, his buttocks are not filled with fat, neither do the brawns of his muscles appear, of stature he is more in length than height, and therewith somewhat side-bellied, his bones are also great, he is rather lean than fat, which leanness is so answerable to the other parts of his body, as the due proportion observed in his deformity, maketh the same to be a beauty. And as touching his inward disposition, he is, as Vegetius saith, both temperate and wise, and able to abide great labour, cold and hunger, and very meet for the war." "Camerarius also saith that ''they be very swift, and if they be provoked by some injury, they will both bite and strike, otherwise not. Their pace is a trot."
''The Hungarian horses have been continually improved by the introduction of Libyan blood, derived largely in later centuries through Turkish channels. Accordingly it is not surprising that the Hungarian horse, drawn by Stradanus [below], in the " Stable of Don John of Austria," shows little resemblance to the animals described by Vegetius except as regards the copiousness of the mane and tail, which were probably inherited from the ancient horses of the Danubian region. The old Hungarian horse was usually of a bay colour and without any white on the legs, but grey, dun, and chestnut were likewise often found. Since the early part of the last century this type has been entirely changed owing to the constant importation of English thoroughbreds, when the Government began to breed for military purposes and encouraged the farmers to do likewise. "In almost all cases the Government stallions were half-bred English, and these were placed at breeding depots all over the country." As is well known, Hungary at the present time supplies some of the best cavalry horses in the world.'' (Ridgeway).

In the period of XVI-XVIII centuries Hungarian horses were considered to have been 'fiery' although they were small but then 'light and fleet,' and it was reported in 1780s that: ''Hungary is remarkable for a fine breed of horses, generally mouse-coloured, and highly esteemed by military officers, so that great numbers of them are exported;''

one author from XVIII century stated about peculiar custom amongst their owners:
''..the Hustars and Hungarians slit their [horses] nostrils, with a view, it is said, to mend their wind, and, at the same time, to prevent their neighing in the field; it being affirmed that horses, whose nostrils have been flit, cannot neigh. It has not indeed been in my power to examine this particular, but it seems natural to think, that the operation can only weaken their neighing. The Hungarian, Croatian, and Polish horses are noted for having what is called the mark in all their fore teeth, which continues to old age.''

From 1767 Thomas Wallis' work:
''The Hungarian Horses. These horses are generally hook-nosed, and have thick heads, large eyes, broad jaws, but narrow nostrils; their manes are rough and thick, commonly reaching near the ground, their tails, in like manner, are bushy and long; for the most part, of lean and thin bodies, but weak pasterns: but although some parts of them are not to be liked, yet the deformities are generally so well put together, that, taken all together, the horses are agreeable enough. They are of a tolerable good courage, and will endure labour and fatigue, and for that reason are serviceable in war.

From - ''Travels in Hungary: with a short account of Vienna in the year 1793 '' by Robert Townson: ''...This is a pusz-ta[pushta -Hungarian Plain] which belongs to the misanthropic bishop I have said so much of. Here is his stud, and the groom was, our host, as his house was the only one here. He has seven stallions, and a proportionable number of brood mares under his care: the stallions were of the largest breed, and very fine; one was from England, and the rest out of the best horse countries of Germany, but not a single Hungarian. I think, when writers have spoken in high terms of (he Hungarian horses, it has arisen by confounding them with the Hungarian horse or cavalry. The Hungarian breed of horses is very small; and in all the studs I have seen, the stallions, and often the brood mares, are brought from other countries; and the horses used by the more opulent Hungarians are either from foreign countries or of foreign extraction. All the walls or fences of the folds and inclosures were made by piling up the useless dung. The groom was a German, and the stud was conducted after the German manner; the stallions were kept in their stalls, and the foals at fix months were separated from their mothers.''

From ''The Scots magazine; or, General repository of literature, history ..., Volume 59'' reports the writer's observations on the horse markets in Hungary:

''The Pest fair […] but the chief articles were the natural productions of Hungary, and the principal of these are horses. These are driven to market in flocks like horned cattle, from the great Puszetes or commons: they are quite wild, and have never had a halter about their heads. When they come to market, they are driven into folds. In this manner they are shown and sold. When a purchaser has bought one, it is not an easy matter to catch it, and take it away; for they do not suffer the near approach of their keepers, who are therefore obliged to catch them in this manner: a noose at the end of a long rope is put in a slit at the end of a long pole; this noose, by means of the pole, is endeavoured to be thrown over the horse's head; but this is often impracticable: if so, then the noose is thrown on the ground, and they endeavour to catch it by the fame means by the leg. From the great number of horses that are together, a good deal of time is often consumed in this first step. As soon as one is caught the greatest confusion takes place; and the spectators who are unaccustomed to this business cannot divest themselves of fear, in behalf of the keepers, from the great danger which they appear to be in, who now endeavour to haul it a little aside to put a halter about its head, which it resists; then three or four stout fellows fly upon it and seize it by the ears, head, and neck: they can often then put on the halter; but the stronger and more spirited are obliged to be thrown down first. The leading it away gives often no less trouble: for this purpose the buyer has at hand a strong steady horse, and these two are fastened together by the head, with a very short rope: he is even then very troublesome. The whole business is dangerous both to the keeper and to the horses. The smaller kind of horses, such as are in use among the peasants, fold for about four or five pounds; those for the army, from seven to twelve pounds.''

*original spelling preserved

!Happy New Year - Szczęśliwego Nowego Roku, Feliz Año Nuevo!

Polish rider from a map of the siege of Toruń AD 1658

this year is ending and yesterday was the anniversary of the capitulation of the Swedish garrison of Polish city of Toruń (during the war known in our history as the Deluge aka Potop - AD1655-60) to the allied Polish-Hapsburg armies (siege lasted almost 6 months).

Jerzy Sebastian Lubomirski, one of the Polish commanders of the siege,  ordered a map printed commemorating this important victory.

From this map comes the partially hidden image of a Polish horseman on a splendid mount, with a Tatar-Turkish style ''buńczuk'' (horse hair tug) suspended from its bridle (with a curb-bit).  Interestingly the sword held by the rider is a typical Polish saber of the period, and the manner of holding is quite faithful here, except that is seems to be missing the ''paluch''(thumb-ring) so peculiar to XVII century Polish cavalry sabers (but also present in earlier Swiss and Hungarian sabers); to his right we have a rare image of the Polish infantry of the period.

A detailed story of the siege by Tadeusz Nowak - in Polish - from Kujawsko-Pomorska Biblioteka (digitalized books), or from Kismeta in English.

Tempesta's horses

several days ago I presented here an image of a Polish horse in a print after Antonio Tempesta's drawing.
Let me show you some more images from the same album, but of more violent actions our dear friends equines are quite capable of





Saturday, December 24, 2011

Happy Holidays

Salve friends & visitors,
it's Christmas Eve - Wigilia -  especially important family holiday in our Polish culture and at the same time Roman Catholic extremely important holy moment.
I wish all of you best health, peace and joy during this holiday season.
...and for your enjoyment a print of a fabulously outfitted Polish horse in winged hussar 'furniture'/harness (from Sweden's celebration of Charles XI enthronement in 1672 - I wrote about it here)
 ...Wesołych Świąt...

...Merry Christmass...

...Feliz Navidad...

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Muscovite Rusian army at Riga 1656

a very interesting and rather rare image of Russian army during the war with Sweden (1656-58), when Russian forces tried to capture Riga, the capital of Livonia, having singed a truce with Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth after they had defeated the armies (at battle of Shepeleviche (Szepielewicze), Polotsk, Smolensk, Wilno, Vitebsk, Mogilev, Kowno, Grodno, Puławy, Kazimierz etc), captured half of our country and massacred countless nobles and townspeople in today's Lithuania, Belarus and eastern Poland between 1654-55.
The most notorious was the capture and consequent slaughter of Mscisław's (today's Mstsislaw ) defenders on July 22, 1654 where  15,000 men, women and children cared for and commanded by Jan Statkiewicz were put to sword by the victorious Russian army under prince Aleksey Nikitich Trubetskoy. It is know as the Trubeskoy's slaughter.
The Russians spared only 700 artisans who were needed by them. Tsar Aleksey Mikhailovich Romanov was the commander-in-chief there (or at least he was present there to encourage his commanders) and yet they failed to capture this important town, and consequently would suffer many defeats and setback by 1661.

well, here are the horses, riders and some of the camps...





Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Polish horse - engraving by Antonio Tempesta, circa 1590

I am glad to share with you this image, as pictures of Polish horses (and ideas of what Polish horses were thought to have looked like) from early modern Europe are not very plentiful.

The following text comes from a British publication titled: The Penny cyclopædia of the Society for the Diffusion of Useful Knowledge: v. 1-27, Volume 24, page 178

ANTONIO TEMPESTA was a celebrated Italian battle and animal painter and engraver, was born at Florence in 1555. He became the scholar of John Strada or Stradanus, a Fleming, who was settled at Florence in the employ of the grand-duke, and who assisted him in the battles which he painted in the old ducal palace. Tempesta, after painting some years with Strada, whom he surpassed in many respects, visited Rome, and was employed by Gregory XIII., in the Vatican, where he painted, in small figures in fresco, the Translation of the Body of St. Gregory'of Nazianzus, and some other subjects, which acquired him a great reputation among the artists and virtuosi of Rome, and procured him constant occupation from the Roman nobility. He executed several good works for the Cardinal Alessandro Farnese, at his villa at Caprarola, and some at Bassano for the Marquess Giustiniani. Tempesta resided chiefly at Rome, and died there in 1630, aged seventy five.
His reputation rests now almost entirely upon his etchings, although in his time he had a great name also as a painter. Lanzi terms him the first Italian who ever attained distinction in landscape and animal painting, and considers him at this period to have been unrivalled in his own style in Italy ; he was however surpassed afterwards by Cerquozzi and Borgognone. Horses were his favourite subjects, and he excelled in battles, processions, cavalcades, hunts, and various field-sports. His designs, particularly his etchings, are remarkable for their spirit and boldness of conception, but they are at the same time coarse and heavy, and careless in their execution. He painted generally small figures ; in large ones he was not successful, and he seldom attempted them; he however occasionally prepared large cartoons for tapestries, in the style of his master Strada.
From "History of Painting in Italy." by Il Abbate Luigi Lanzi. Roscoe's translation :
"… in battles and hunting-pieces none in these times equalled Antonio Tempesta. He was followed, though at a considerable interval, by Francesco Allegrini."
"Antonio Tempesta was among the first to acquire a celebrated name in Italy for landscapes and for battles. He practised engraving, prepared cartoons for tapestry, and gave scope to his genius in the most fanciful inventions in grotesque and ornamental work. He surpassed his master in spirit, and was inferior to none, not even to the Venetians. In a letter on painting by the Marquis Giustiniani he is adduced as an example of great spirit in design, a gift conferred by nature, and not to be acquired by art. He attempted few things on a large scale, and was not so successful as in small pictures. The Marquis Niccolini, the Order of the Nunziata, and several Florentine families, possess some of his battles painted on alabaster, in which he appears the precursor of Borgognone (Cortese), who studied him attentively. He most frequently painted in fresco, as at the Villa Caprarola, in the Este villa at Tivoli, and in parts of Rome, from the time of Gregory XIII. Most of the historical pictures in the Vatican Gallery are his work; the figureS, a palm and a half high, display astonishing variety and spirit, accompanied by beautiful architecture and landscapes, with every species of decoration. He is not, however, very correct, and his tints are sometimes inclined too much to a brownish hue; but all such faults are pardonable in him, as being occasioned by that pictoric fury which inspired him, that fancy which hurried him from earth, and conducted him through novel and sublime regions unattempted by the vulgar herd."
"Battles, hunting-pieces, marches, and cavalry-fights are the subjects which he treats by preference. Although his horses are too fleshy, they have the merit of variety in their attitudes and movements. The heads of these animals are treated nobly.
"All the prints of Antonio Tempesta are deeply bitten in with aquafortis: this gives them an appearance of crudeness little likely to please the eye of the amateur; but the knowledge of drawing and the freedom of hand make up for what they want in delicacy.
"Although the general finish of the prints of Tempesta is little remarkable, engravers may obtain useful lessons in laying the first plans of their works when they have horses to introduce.
"There are besides many engravings of Tempesta which, even disregarding their spirited freedom of touch, deserve to be collected by amateurs in their portfolios.
"Tempesta is indebted chiefly for his wide reputation to his engravings. His work of this kind is very extensive.''
Small gallery of Tempesta work's at wikipedia commons.
This image comes from Tempesta's Horses of Different Lands of 1590
*original XIX century grammar preserved

Monday, December 19, 2011

David Klöcker Ehrenstrahl - painter of Swedish royality and horses

yesterday I brought 2 images showing Polish horses and their 'furniture' from the publication titled ''Certamen Equestre'' (actually the title is quite longer) - a set of almost 70 engravings showing the Swedish royal horse show given in celebration of the enthronement of the new Swedish monarch Charles XII, last warrior king of Sweden..

David Klocker Enhrenstrahl was this new monarch's painter (official court painter from 1674), first being the painter for the famous Swedish general Wrangel. It seems that he was the author of the drawings that Georg Christoph Eimmart the younger engraved  creating the plates of the Certamen Equestre, finally published  by messer David in 1682.The engravings of the Certamen most certainly have the similarities of messer David other equestrian images, especially the  smaller heads on bent necks, movement, flowing tails and lively disposition.

I would like to show here some of the paintings and engravings based on messer David work or his atelier (being rich and famous he most certainly had a school and disciples who did most of the work)
... Charles X

... note that the engraver changed messer David's horse a bit, making him 'heavier', with shorter neck and slightly larger head etc.

... Charles XI



... this is famous Wrangel, riding rather smaller horse, perhaps a Spanish jennet.

... fabulous appaloosa or 'tarant' (in Polish),   a bit similar to a painting by Italian painter in Poland Dolabella, so perhaps this is a Polish horse (Sweden had many of those, having pillaged Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth during 1655-60 Deluge)

... a paint ('srokacz' im Polish) with a small head and graceful neck, perhaps of Polish breeding too

... another appaloosa, perhaps a horse of Spanish-Danish breeding, but mind you that Polish cavalry division (many thousands of Polish-bred horses, stallions to a large extend) under 'regimentarz' Stefan Czarniecki came to aid the Danish in 1658/9, and perhaps these Polish horses, often very multicolored, infused Danish breeding with their genes etc.

 this painting is perhaps from messer David's atelier or perhaps his own, I am not sure, but it shows young king Charles XI

Well, there is a decent body of splendid equestrian art, perhaps there are many more in Sweden. One thing seems to be certain that contrary to later practices excluding spotted horses, XVII century riders were still interested in using these multicolored mounts, not finding them inferior due to their coats.

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Pan Zawadzki with king Charles I of England, Scotland etc

sometime during 1633 our king Władysław IV sent his envoy, starosta of Swiecie pan Jan Zawadzki, to the various royal courts of Europe, including the Stuart court in London.
In June 1633 Polish embassy reached England.
There is a description of the gifts from our king to the King of England, and here as always, our good king regaled his English counterpart several riding horses, dressed and with then typical horse tack used in Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth:
''Rzędom też oprawnym bardzo się dziwują, że w Anglji takich niewidali, także też i koniom, jakoż Cavalcator Królewski powiedział ża żadnego takiego u Króla niemasz.''
 -Our adorned, [precious stones etc], horse furniture (back in XVII-XVIII century ''rząd koński'' included both all the harness and the saddle with stirrups)  they are wondering about since they have not seen those in England, also they have not seen the horses [of our embassy], thus the Royal Master of Horse has stated that there is no horse similar [to ours] in the Royal stables.
Po prywatnej audyencyi oddał Jegomośś te konie Królowi Jegomości ubrane w rzędy z pałaszami z buławami. Dzianeta po usarsku z rzędem turkusami osadzonym, lamparth na niem, na gniadego, drugi rząd po Arabsku łuk, sajdak, rząd barzo piękny, w nim turek cisawy których obu rączości i gotowości wysławić nie mogą.
 -After a private audience [of our envoy with the King] the envoy gave these horses to His Royal Highness tacked with horse furniture, with palashes (pałasz) and maces (buława).  Bay jennet in winged hussar fashion tack, his harness adorned with turquoises, with a leopard pelt [under the saddle]; second horse furniture was in in an Arabian fashion, with a bow and bowcase, his tack very beautiful, carried by a chestnut Turkish hors;  they, [the English], cannot praise enough the swiftness and [level] of dressage of both [our] horses..


Also the Polish envoy brought another 'horse gift ' for the English monarch, a carriage with 6 carriage horse, presumably all the same in color and size (their color has not been given in the depiction). as it was our Polish custom of the times. There were also priceless Siberian sables for the queen,

the images are from a later part of XVII century, from Sweden, and show two manners of presenting Polish horses : winged hussar horse tack and 'Arabian' tack . The hussar horse furniture in the top image lacks the wild cat, leopard, tiger or lion pelt.

Saturday, December 17, 2011

A few horse words in Old Polish describing a pacing horse

Salve amici,
the year is drawing to an end so allow me to talk about some horse 'things'  long neglected. i.e., my blogging.
  in the XVI-XVIII century Polish writings  these words - ''stupak,'' ''stępak,'' ''szłapak'' - often appear to describe for a certain kind of a riding horse.
Samuel Bogumił Linde in his monumental work ''Słownik jẹzyka polskiego'' (Dictionary of Polish Language , 1812 AD) vol. 5, page 415 explains 'stępak' as a pacing horse/caballo de paso (in XIX century Polish a 'jednochodnik,' now it is 'inochodziec'). In the older Medieval sources: Latin ''pro equo ambulatore/ambulato''these names were used as palefroi (French)/palfrey(English),  podjezdek/stępak (Polish).
 Perhaps it is worth mentioning that in 1392 King Władysław Jagiellon paid 21 grzywna for a ''stepak'' (ambulator in the sources) and gave this horse to the Masovian duke Siemovit's wife as a gift...

Well, let us look at some sources from XVI-XVIII centuries: 1596 AD Vatican envoy segnor Vannozzi visitng chancellor Jan Zamoyski always had been given 'tarant'(an appaloosa) 'stępak'  to ride to his estates, so when he finally left Poland the chancellor had given him the same horse with a saying:... equum graduarium, ut commodius possem redire in Italiam (a pacing horse, so I would return to Italy comfortably).

when the Polish embassy of Lew Sapieha came to Muscovy in 1600, his secretary Eiljasz Pielgrzymowski wrote a diary of that mission (delicate one as less than a decade later  Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth would enter into war against the Muscovy Russia)- the embassy members gave Tsar Boris' son Fiodor, amongst many other horses and valuable gifts, two pacing horses:  a ''koń cisawy drygant stupak'' - chestnut pacing stallion (''drygant'' in Polish besides being a stallion could signify a very spirited mount) and a ''koń Turecki stupak siwy'' - grey Turkish pacing horse.

Let us jump almost a century and a half, to 1744, when another Polish writer, Marcin Matuszewicz (author of Memoirs of 1714-1765), noted that ''podobał się królowi* koń brata mego, szłapak brudno szpakowaty, za którego dałem w Wysokiem dukatów szesnaście; kazał go sobie król przejeżdżać na dziedzińcu i kazał zapłacić za niego 5o dukatów. Był ten koń faworytem królewskim i już potem król oprócz tego konia na innym nie jeździł...'' 
(the King* liked my brother's horse, dirty dark-grey pacing horse, I had paind 16 dukats for it in Wysokie, the king ordered the horse ridden in the courtyard and ordered to pay 50 dukats for him. This horse was the king's favorite and after that the king would not ride any other horse than this one...) 

the king in question is Augustus III of Poland 
the two images above show training of the stepping/pacing horse, the first image is from 1680s and the second is from the second half of XVI century. The last horse image is a fabulous grey Spanish stallion, painted in the early XVIII century.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Wacław Pawliszak - painter of horses - 1866-1905

in January 1905 a rising star of Polish modern art Xawery Dunikowski shot and killed established painter and a very popular member of  Warsaw elites Wacław Pawliszak. They say it was a crime of passion, as it took place in a popular upscale restaurant full of important and known patrons eating dinner. The killer was never punished for his actions as the 1905 Revolution broke out and perhaps Xavery was too popular with then art world movers and shakers...

He was a disciple of Wojciech Gerson and Jan Matejko, lover of the so called Orientalist art and historical genre, especially Polish history, great painter of horses and mythology (illustrated Austrian/German edition of One Thousand and One Nights), great horseman and athlete, a  consumed traveler and bon vivant.

Monsieur or pan Pawliszak's works were collected privately, he died 13 years before the Restitution of Poland, and during the Communist or Soviet Poland this type of art was scorned and attempts were made to remove it from the so called ''public eye.'' Therefore most of his paintings, almost 400 were presented at the exhibit following his funeral (he left a daughter and an ailing wife), are in the private hands in Poland and perhaps in the US too, as lots of well-to-do Jewish Poles/Polish Jews took with them their paintings when emigrating to the US.

Let me show you some of pan Wacław paintings and sketches: