Friday, November 30, 2018

Somosierra AD 1808-2018

Salvete Omnes,
battle of Somosierra Pass 1808 - 2018 - 210th anniversary this day
Wojciech Kossak - from his unfinished panorama

Suchodolski painting - detail with a glinka bailogrzywy   charger
Suchodolski - fallen horses - detail

Horace Vernet pinxit - detail friend Krzys Komaniecki has been working on a new comics book retelling the story of the battle and famous charge - he has painted already 10 plates, out of 45-60 pages that the finished hand-painted comics will consist of.
Fingers crossed  - :) 

Wednesday, November 28, 2018

Snow and horses Berezina AD 1812


Salvete Omnes,
my heart is black with sadness today, my beloved German shepherd Inka Negra was euthanized today.
She will sleep forever in the oak forest. C'est la vie.
End of November brings another anniversary in Polish , French, Russian and German military history.
Falat's landscape

On 26th of November  the remains of the Napoleonic Grande Armee (Great or Grand Army), that had entered Russian Empire in the summer 1812, fought their last large ( the entire fight lasted from 26 to 29th of November ) battle of this terribly mismanaged and badly executed campaign.
Encircled by three Russian armies, pursued relentlessly by Russians and inclement weather, starving and frostbitten, with military horses reduced to skeletal steeds collapsing at any given moment and using peasant koniks - now consisting in large part of Polish soldiers, and then the German, Croat, Dutch and French soldiers, plus vast number of camp followers and stragglers - so this struggling army came to the old Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth Berezyna (Berezina) River crossings on the way to Wilno (Vilnius, Lithuania), had to built bridges, fight their enemies in snow, ice, forests and freezing waters, and just to keep on walking towards Duchy of Warsaw and Empire.
For the Napoleon it was do or die type of an engagement, the emperor being effectively encircled with his fighting-men spread out on the right and left banks and twice the number of civilians and stragglers on the left bank.   For a moment if all came to halt around  the fords on the Berezyna (Berezina) River between Studzianka(Studienka) and Borysow (Borisov), present day Belarus. Actual battle was very bloody and very costly in terms of losses in men, families and materiel, but  soldiers' valiant sacrifice did win Napoleon another chance to fight on in the spring 1813 etc, thus the French Empire was saved and survived the Russia 1812 debacle to fight on until Waterloo stopped all.
On November 29, 1812 Grand Army survivors started marching towards Wilno, but less than 10,000 of them capable to bear arms and fight (and they did fight smaller battles and skirmishes). Several days after Berezyna Napoleon left his army and went straight to Paris, to organize new armies to fight in the Germanies the following spring.
Military details of this battle will become subject of many posts in the future (so  many surviving diaries and memoirs provide so much interesting equestrian information that it would be shameful not to bring them back).
Falat's work
But today I want to post something about the painting, not jsut any painting abut a huge panorama work planned and executed by two Polish masters of brush and paint : Wojciech Kossak and Julian Fałat, with help from several Polish artists - Michał Wywiórski, Antoni Piotrkowski, Kazimierz Pułaski (cousin of Kossak), et Jan Stanisławski.
Falat's winter scene
So these two great brushmasters set on to paint  the grand last act of the Napoleonic retreat from Moscow AD 1812, the battle of Berezina River.
In November 1894 Falat proposed to undertake this project, to be painted in Berlin, where he was residing. The financial backers of this project were Roman Potocki, Antoni Wodzicki and Stanislaw  Homolacs.
Kossak was to paint the figures and Falat the nature(being the foremost painter of landscape, especially the snowed scenery etc, but he painted one bridge with figures too, as seen above). Kossak went to the site in Russian Empire and studied the uniforms and armaments.

The work started on December 1, 1894 and in April 1896 the finished Berezina panorama went on display in Berlin. In September 1898 it went to be displayed in Warsaw, in April 1900 went to Kiev, and in June 1901 to Moscow. After that show it was kept at Kossak's home at Krakow, The panoramic painting was 15 meters high and 120  meters long and without a proper gallery to display it (unlike Raclawice Panorama),  it having been rolled and slowly decaying at Kossak's atelier it was destined to survive in its entirety for long. Addtionally there was the conflict between the two leading painters, and so this great work of art was completely cut into multiple panels and then these smaller paintings were sold off to interested buyers. It had begun already in 1907 when Kossak started to cut it into smaller parts, selling those pieces he painted himself.
There are but photos of some of the larger scenes surviving


best books on this engagement
in Polish:
Marian Kukiel, Wojna 1812 Roku, vol. II.
Robert Bielecki, Berezyna 1812.
Alexander Mikaberidze, Battle of the Berezina.

Tuesday, November 27, 2018

Hispalis known as Sevilla AD 1619 p. II

Salvete Omnes,
continuing with the equestrian details from the panorama of Seville AD 1619


Hispalis known as Sevilla AD 1619 p. I

Catedral de Santa María de la Sede de Sevilla
Salvete omnes,

in May and June this year I showed some details from Baroque panoramas of Gdansk and Lisbon (click on the labels portion to look at them), and this late in November I am inviting you to take a look at some chosen details from the panorama showing the horse and rider, carriage and wagons, mules, donkeys, oxen etc in Seville/Sevilla, the most opulent and splendorous city of then largest empire on earth, the Spanish Hapsburg Empire, where the sun never set and where old the gold and silver came from the New Indies. This is the city before the great plague of 1649AD, still the center of the international trade with the Americas and Spanish (and Portuguese) possessions in Africa and Asia.
Curiously we see various styles of riding - la gineta and la brida - popular in the Iberian peninsula since the Middle Ages.


Thursday, November 22, 2018

Thracian bit - some ideas about attachment

Salvete omnes,
great MET has in their collection this bronze bit -
''The mouthpiece consists of two canons studded with rounded spikes, linked by a ring in the center. Each one terminates with a ring for the reins and a long and straight full-cheek piece, pierced with two holes for hanging it from the bridle.''

I have drawn over the MET photo of this artifact and propose the following arrangement of this bit  attachment  to the headstall -
Hermitage has many images of the surviving bridles -headstalls and bits - from the Central Asia (Ukok Plateau etc) barrows.
 My prior post about Dodona bit also includes the Athens museum proposed reconstruction of the bit and the bridle.


Nicolas Lagneau - Polish drawings

Salvete Omnes,
no horses this time (soon, very soon there will be back) - so a quick time travel into the world of French draughtsman Nicolas Lagneau and his often grotesque drawings.
Gallica, French National Library, has in their collection many wash drawings of master Lagneau, including two portraits of Polish men, There are more of these portraits that might show Polish costumes - eg this one.
Young Polish man
Old Polish man (with a war hammer)


love the idea of digitilization of prints, drawings, paintigs, manuscripts and old books that is so prolific in continental Europe. Time travel with no end - :)

Sunday, November 11, 2018

Polonia Restituta - 100 years

Salvete Omnes.
100 years ago a sovereign Polish state was reborn after having been partitioned and ruled by three European powers in 1795AD.
White Eagle - 1919-27

My family and I, like all Poles around the world. celebrate this 100th anniversary and salute all ancestors, men and women, who worked on restoring our Polish state to most desired sovereign status. I especially salute Polish peasants and Polish nobility, two social groups who fought for our reborn independence.
note that the 1918 or year zero of officially reborn Republic was amidst flames of war, and the war or more properly wars and conflicts were to be continued for another 3 years.
we have had more than 1000 years of history as a sovereign state:

from our first Christian ruler prince Mieszko I of Piast clan

 his fabulously successful son and king Boleslaw I

Jagiellon Poland - crica 1436

under the Jagiellon dynasty 1490

Polish Lithuanian Commonwealth

II Republic

present III Republic - under the EU Lisbon Treaty, rules and regulations are we still as in depended as they claim ?

Vivat Polonia Resituta
during the XX century we Poles were first to fight, in World War I more than 1 million Poles died, world War II saw loss - death, migration, refugees -  of many millions, country population reduced from close to 35 million in 1939 to some 23 million in 1945

I like this poster by painter and graphic artist Marek Zulawski  

maps from Wiki Commons

I salute tsar Nicolas I Romanov, who crowned himself a King of Polish Congress Kingdom in 1829 and the same year concluded a war with the Ottoman empire, and ordered that the Ottoman cannons captured should be sent to Warsaw with  the words that he, the King of Polish Kingdom, avenged the death of our king Wladyslaw III -
 Vladislaus by God's grace king of Crown of Kingdom of Poland, Hungary, Dalmatia, Croatia, Rascia (Serbian Grand Principality), Supreme Prince of Duchy of Lithuania, lord of Pomerania and Ruthenia.
(at Varna in 1444, here Matejko painting).

last but not least - Happy Veterans Day! -