Friday, August 29, 2014

Dzianety in Cracovia - Jan III AD 1676

Salve,
In Polish, translation to follow soon, about the horses and horse tack of Jan III and his entourage in 1676:

W roku Pańskim 1676 sekretarz króla Jana III pan Cossimo Brunetti  (zmarły 1678) napisał raport to księcia Kosma (Cosimo) III Medyceusza opisujący uroczysty wjazd Jana III Sobieskiego i jego koronacje w Królewskim Mieście Krakowie.

In 1676 Brunetti Cosimo (d. 1678), secretary to our king Jan III Sobieski, wrote a report to duke Cosimo III d'Medici - the subject matter being the Jan III ceremonial entry into the royal city of Kraków and his crowning there :

''Szły za temi cztery chorągwie usarzów ; każda o 200. 
koni, to jest : z 60. towarzyszów szlachty, z których każdy 
miał dwóch lob trzech pocztowych. Próżna byłaby praca 
opowiadać okazałość i piękność rycerstwa tego; mówić 
bowiem, o zbrojach jego, o wysokich kopiach z długiemi 
charągiewkami, o tygrysich ich skórach, pysznych koniach, 
kalbakach, rzędach, strzemionach, cuglach od złota, haftów 
i drogich kamieni, byłoby to przyćmić ich piękność. Jest 
to jazda jakiej niema na świecie; żywości i przepycha, 
bez widzenia własnemi oczyma, pojąć niepodobna. 

Po usarzach jechała szlachta przepysznie ubrana na 
dzielnych dżanetach. Tyle ich było, iż sami dziwowali się 
Polacy.''
 
 
 ''Okazał się nakoniec Król Jmć na dzielnym rumaku; 
rzęd jego okryty dyamentami. Król Jmć miał na sobie 
szubę niebieską przetykamą złotem i srebrem, podsa^ylą so- 
bolami, żupan na dnie pąsowem, przetykany złotem z gu-
zami dyameotowemi , i spięciem z dużych dyamentów i 
karbankułu, tak wielkiem,' jak podobnego niema w Europie; 
przy kołpaku z kokardą dyamentową, były trzy perły nie- 
widzianej wielkości, z których wychodziło kilka czarnych 
piór czaplich. W około końca szło mnóstwo paziów bo- 
gato po Francuzku ubranych, i 24 lokajów ubranych po 
persku  w kolory tak dobrane, tak bogate, iż oczy wabiły. 
[..] iż się zdawało, że się już kalwakada skończyła; 
gdy raptem pokazało się trzynaście koni, prowadzonych 
jeden za drugim , przyodzianych w drogie, złociste, szyte 
perłami i drogiemi kamieniami tyftyki; trzynasty koń miał 
rzęd, kulbakę, strzemiona, cugle, pistolety, olstra, szable, 
czekan ze stali, tak sztucznie i misternie robionej, iż Książe 
Toskański, niema w galeryi, ni na dworze swoim artystów, 
którzyby co podobnego wypracować mogli. ''
 
Julian Ursyn Niemcewicz, Zbior pamietnikow Tom V 
 
 
...
ps
CNN article on the American wild horse aka mustang  

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Eagle of king Władysław IV Waza - repost

Salve,
 per my project White Eagle I have been scanning the digital libraries for images of eagles in Polish art prior to 1795. In my opinion the most beautiful Polish eagles appeared in the Baroque art.



While looking for some works of Samuel Twardowski I found a very nice image of our Eagle.

 This White Eagle in the Baroque setting shows itself beautifully in a woodcut from the Jesuit  father Adam Makowski's published sermon said on the occasion of Polish Crown victory during the  the Polish-Muscovite War of 1632-34, where the genius of king Władysław IV Wasa (Vasa) shone its brightest..
This published sermon has a very nice long, Baroque name  -''Nadzieia Swięta Sczęśliwey Expedycyey Moskiewskiey y Zwycięstwa [...] Władysława IV.: Przy Łzach Wesołych Na Obrazie Naświętszey Panny w Myślenicach nowo widzianych.''(AD1634)
Please find the title page from the said publication


There is a famous 1634 map engraved by Willem Hondius studio after the drawings of royal military engineer Jan  Pleitner (done in situ),   showing this Polish victory.
 Nota bene the engraved coper plates survived the winds of war and destruction of time and are held in Sankt Petersburg Fine Arts Academy museum. We had some discussion about the Polish cavalry images from the map and Hondius/Pleinter on Kadrinazi blog.
I will bring some images from this monumental map in the future, as they hold very interesting information about horse care etc while at war.
Enjoy
ps
 I added some color to show the king's coat of arms more clearly

ps"
accidents happen - while organizing my blog I accidentally deleted this entry, hence here it is again, a bit enhanced

Łęczyca - XVI Royal Castle Tournament

Salve,
our not so glorious summer is coming to an end, not at least because of the weirdest weather in central and northern Europe and eastern US - it has been cold and rainy during most of this month of August. Must be global warming...

Ad rem, continuing with the chivalry tradition the Łęczyca Royal Castle was again the site of medieval and renaissance reenactment fair and knightly tournament (16th already), and if you are on the Web you could view,  I hope from your comfortable seat, several  nicely done  films recording events that took place this past weekend.
General overview - including hawking, landsknechts, target archery,  horse archery and flag jugglers.
Horse dressage
Knights - reenactment of the knightly tournament.
also some photos from the opening ceremony  and closing.
 Some sketches of mine, loose subjects, from Balkan Turkish delil, nomadic, Tang China to just playing with digital medium:






enjoy

ps
70 years ago, 19-21 August 1944 the soldiers of the 1st Polish Armoured Division,  in the tradition of Polish winged hussars et al fighting at Zbaraż or Hodów,  successfully fought and won the battle of Mont Ormel Ridge.  Nice article in Polish - title aptly 'The Victory of the Armoured Winged Hussars.' My own grandpa Wincent, in war since September 1939 or the German attack on Poland, took part in the Operation Burza during that eventful summer.

 

Friday, August 22, 2014

South African Horses - Horace Hayes

Salve,
back to English :) - but I am planning to write an entry or two in Spanish - on winged hussars :) -
Ad rem, my favorite XIX century British horse writer M. Horace Hayes travelled extensively and widely during the Victorian era, and after his military career  he travelled around the globe studying and breaking (gentling) horses.
Captain Hayes wrote about his horse adventures and observations in many books, perhaps the most important and longest lasting being his book "Points of Horse," but for the purposes of this 'chain' of entries also "Among Men and Horses " and perhaps couple more works may be quoted etc.

Cpt Hayes wrote a bit about the South African horses, from his experiences of  riding them and observing these horses and horse practices in the British South Africa before and during the 2nd Boer War. In this part of the entries I am posting quotations about Cpt Hayes's observations and quotations on the history of horse breeding in South Africa, fodder, coach travel etc.

In the chapter titled "Colonial* Horses' of his treatise 'Points of Horse' our horseman tells us that:
 
''My first introduction to Cape horses was in the early
sixties, when I was a subaltern in an Indian field battery.
Throughout the fifties, the Cape Stud Department, which
was under the control of that good horseman. Colonel
Apperly, furnished a large number of very useful remounts
to the Indian Army; but soon after the Mutiny, the supply
dwindled down almost to vanishing point. To judge by
the remainder which I saw and by a couple I owned,
they were remarkably hardy and wiry animals, and were
up to a fair amount of weight ; although somewhat under-
sized (about 15 h) and rather plain about the head and
croup. They were certainly well adapted for campaigning
in India, on account of their having been bred in a dry
and warm climate. This type of Cape horse is now prac-
tically extinct. The thick-set Transvaal gelding shown in
Fig. 499 is, however, a near approach to it''


 
Then he goes to say that:                           
 ''We should
here bear in mind 'that in South Africa there are few
districts suitable for the breeding of valuable horses, and
that the horse-breeders of that part of the world are,
during the spring, summer and autumn, beset by the
danger of " horse sickness." This disease and want of
water are the two great banes of horse-breeding there ;
and the inordinate dryness of the country greatly reduces
the supply of fodder and the amount of arable land.
Also, the indigenous locusts have an unpleasant custom
of eating up every green thing during their frequent
visits.
Nearly all the grass in South Africa is natural ; " tem-
porary " and '' permanent " pastures being comparatively
unknown. Consequently, on the grazing grounds there is
a very large admixture of weeds and deleterious herbs.
Therefore the Cape horse, which has existed for many
generations under this condition of pasture, has acquired
the useful ability of being able to distinguish good grass
from noxious herbage. If he is turned out on the veldt
with several new arrivals from foreign lands, there will
be no difficulty in recognising the native equine product
from the others, by the peculiar way he grazes ; because,
instead of eating the plants as they come, he plucks his
favourite grasses in small tufts, here and there, at com-
paratively wide intervals of space. This faculty of
selecting proper food on the veldt is undoubtedly the
chief cause which made him the best campaigner during
the late Boer war.''
 History: 
''The Dutch East India Company appears to have founded
the race of Cape horses towards the end of the seventeenth
century by the importation of Barbs and Gulf Arabs.
Mr. Duncan Hutcheon, who is the Colonial Veterinary
Surgeon, tells us in his interesting pamphlet, Military
Horses and Hoiv to Breed Them, that " in 1792 eight stud-
horses were imported from England. They are believed
to have been of the early English roadster breed. In the
same year, five stud-horses arrived from Boston, and the
following year a number of horses and mares were brought
from the New England States, and are described as of
Spanish or Eastern blood. In addition to these, in March,
1807, during the Peninsular War, two French vessels were
captured at the Cape, containing some Spanish horses
en route to Buenos Ayres for breeding purposes. It is
said that from these were obtained the blue and red roans
which were considered by the colonists as so valuable
for their great power of endurance. ... It was in
1813, however, that the dawn of a new era in horse-breeding
commenced at the Cape. In that year Lord Charles
Somerset was appointed Governor of the colony, and soon
after his arrival he directed his attention to the improve-
ment of the Cape horse by means of the English thorough-
bred, and during his term of office he imported a con-
siderable number of first-class thorough-breds, both stallions
and mares. During the three following decades, first-class
thorough-breds continued to be imported by the leading
horse-breeders of the Western Province, and the male
progeny of these were distributed all over the colony as
stud horses. It was after these importations had im-
pressed their character and qualities on the native-bred
stock — from 1840 to 1860 — that the Cape horse reached
the highest stage of perfection which it has ever attained.
It was during the latter part of this period that large
consignments of horses were shipped to India, which
earned for the Cape horse such a high reputation with the
Indian authorities."
''The decay of horse-breeding at the Cape, which began
about forty years ago, was considerably hastened by the
importation of weedy and worthless English thorough-
breds, few of which I venture to think cost more than
£50. At the same time, some of the Cape breeders, like
Mr. Hilton Barber and Mr. Alec Robertson of Storm-
fontein, employed good thorough-bred sires, and bred
animals that were able to hold their own on the Turf
against imported English race-horses. Like other dry
countries (Arabia and India for instance), South Africa
possesses the great advantage, from a horse-breeding
point of view, that its equine produce hardly ever suffer
from that form of laryngeal paralysis which is commonly
termed " roaring," even when their dams and sires are
'' musical." Hence the fact of a sire being wrong in his
wind is of little detriment to his stud career in that
country. The noisy Belladrum and the still more obstre-
perous Candlemas, who was own brother to St. Blaise, are
cases in point.''
 
''Mr. Mellish, whom I have the pleasure of knowing,
has imported several high-class Cleveland bays and Hack-
neys for crossing with South African mares, and may
probably be successful in producing fashionable trappers
by their means; but such an admixture of blood would be
useless for saddle purposes, if we may judge by the result
of similar experiments which have been tried in India. ''

''At present, the vast majority of South African horses
might be fairly classed as ponies, from an English polo-
pony point of view. Their blood is so mixed that it is
impossible to divide them into distinctive classes, according
to the districts in which they are bred. Of course I here
refer to the ordinary South African horse or pony, which-
ever name we may hke to give him ; and not to thorough-
breds specially intended for racing, or the produce of
recent foreign crosses. The South African as a rule is
hardy, docile, sound, capable of standing a great deal
of hard work, but is somewhat lacking in speed. Although
his want of size and substance put him altogether out of
the hunter class or the misfit hunter class, from which
the English cavalry trooper is obtained, he makes a very
useful hack, and an admirable mounted-infantry remount.
His deficiency of blood and the semi-starvation diet which
he has had to endure for several generations, unfit him as
a rule for high-class polo.''
''The best horse-breeding districts I have seen in South
Africa are those of Colesberg in the Eastern Province,
and of the Mooi River in Natal. ''
Captain Hayes goes to elaborate about his further personal and very close experiences with the South African colonial horses when
''during a horse-breaking tour which I made through South 
Africa in 1891-92, I had excellent opportunities of studying the 
horses of Cape Colony, Orange River Colony, the Transvaal, 
and Natal; for I broke in many scores of them, and was
asked to judge horses at several agricultural shows which
were held, while I was staying in that country. During
1901 [during the 2nd Boer War], I had the pleasure of renewing 
my acquaintancewith these animals on two occasions 
when I went out to the Cape in veterinary charge of remounts,
and of taking the photographs which illustrate these pages.''
 Now we will cross over to ''Among Men and Horses'' where Cpt hayes tell us about his arrival and about the manner of his travel in South Africa :

''As the journey from Kimberley to Johannesburg, where
I had arranged to go, was rough and costly, I thought
it best to leave my wife at Kimberley, where we had several
pleasant friends, and to attack the Randt alone. After a
wearisome journey of two nights and a day in a most un-
comfortable train service, I arrived in Kronstadt, which is a
small town in the Orange Free State, and had then to travel
twenty-four hours in a coach before arriving at Johannesburg,
the capital of the gold fields. 

The coaching in South Africa is of a primitive kind, and
would not commend itself to old Charlie Ward, or even to
his son Frank. Yet for all that it admirably accomplishes
its purpose. There are no roads either to speak of, or to see.
After saying that the country is an open one and not fenced
in, I have praised the 'going' as far as I may truthfully
venture. The coach is of the old American backwoods sort,
is hung on leather springs, and is capable of holding twelve
closely-packed inside passengers, with a few less hampered
ones outside. Having to be very strong to resist the terrible
jolts it receives on its cross-country travels, it is heavy,
and as the cattle are either weedy ponies, or small mules,
their individual deficiency in pulling power has to be made
up by an increase in their numbers. Consequently, a team
of ten or a dozen has to do the work of four or six ordinary
horses. These animals are harnessed two by two, with one
pair of reins for the leaders, and another for the wheelers.
The intermediate pairs follow the leaders and do not require
any special guidance. The man who holds the reins is an
unconsidered cypher. The driver, who is the ornamental
man of the show, amuses himself with a light fifteen foot
pole, from the end of which hangs a long thong, finished
off with a lash of gemsbok raw hide. This sportsman prides
himself on the dexterity with which he can manipulate this
funny-looking whip, and has more tricky ways of ' catching '
and ' double thonging ' than ever entered into the mind of
even poor Jim Selby. With this flail he can reach either the
near or off leader, and can, if he likes, cut ' chunks ' out of
any of his team. He is, however, supposed to show his
skill less by punishment, than by describing figures in the
air with the thong, and by shrieking in a peculiarly terrifying
manner at his horses. Besides the fifteen-footer, he carries
a kind of magnified dog-whip for the special benefit of the
wheelers. The third and last person of the coaching show
is the guard, whose business is to take tips, tell the passengers
yarns, and induce them to patronise the halting-place shanties,
at which he is on the free list for food and drink.''
 
''The ponies, or horses, if I may dignify them by that term,
are admirable workers for their weight, and will trot along
merrily and pull gamely up hill and down dale over bad
ground, a stage of twelve miles, once, and sometimes twice a
day. Their sole food is Indian corn, oat hay, and any grass
they can pick up on the veldt. The ' mealies ' are given in a
dry state, whole or crushed, or after having been soaked over
night in water. The oat hay, or ' forage ' as it is called,
consists of oats which have been cut before the grains in the
ears have lost all their milky character, and which have been
dried in the sun like ordinary hay. If the ears were allowed
to ripen more than I have stated, the grains would become
so much loosened that they would fall out of the ears on
too slight provocation to bear transit, or ordinary handling.
This ' forage ' is an excellent food. Although I have used
a good deal of it with horses when I lived in Calcutta, to
which city it is often brought from Australia, where it is
known as oat hay, in steamers that are loaded with horses,
I am unable to decide whether or not it would be a good
substitute for English hay. Anyhow, it is a valuable adjunct
or change to a horse's food. It is sometimes used in
England during years in which there is scarcity of ordinary
hay.
to be continued
ps
Original spelling in quoted passages
*  British Empire prior to 1945
ps
Battle of Falaise Gap took place 70 years ago and our Polish Armoured Cavalry fought and attained  immortal glory in this decisive engagement during the battle of Normandy 1944. Let us remember and hope that Europeans would stop fighting one another,  eg the present and terrible war in Ukraine. 

Karol Szajnocha - Kopia Husarska

Salve,
today's entry in Polish :) - a short story about winged hussar 'kopia' (lance) written by a Polish XIX century historian Karol Szajnocha.

Polski historyk, bibliotekarz, badacz źródeł, literat i patriota wielkiej miary mości pan Karol Szajnocha opublikował artykuł o kopii husarskiej et husarii  (oryginalnie wydane w tomie II 'Dzieł' we Lwowie - nakładem Karola Wilda w drukarni E. Winiarza w 1857 roku)
...oto cały tekst z edycji 'Dzieł' (via archive.org) wydanej w Warszawie w 1877 roku:

.

.

.

.

.

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Cheval de frise



Salve,
at least since the Middle Ages infantry used various portable devices to protect themselves from the numerous cavalry, especially shock cavalry. A device known by a French name - cheval de frise - was quite effective against cavalry and was used whenever possible, eventually crossing  over to the Americas, and the US armies used this device as well, from the Revolutionary War to the Civil War.

In Polish military history, since we mainly used cavalry to attack and destroy the enemy in a pitched battle, there are instances when our enemies employed cheval de frise, caltrops, or both, along with artillery, muskets and pikes, eg battle of Gniew, battle of Kliszow - where winged hussars were stopped and prevented from securing a potential victory because the enemies used the defensive portable devices.
At Klushino the cheval de frise ('kobylice' or 'ostrostawidła' - names according to a XVII century Polish military engineer and architect  Józef Naronowicz-Naroński) failed to stop our winged hussars.

Since there are historical sources describing the device then I am going to take the opportunity afforded by the digital library collections via google books and to quote a rather late depiction of this defensive infantry tool precisely depicting a cheval de frise as used in the early XIX century.

''A treatise on the science of war and fortification: composed for the use of the Imperial Polytechnick School, and military schools ; and translated for the War Department, for the use of the Military Academy of the United States : to which is added a summary of the principles and maxims''
written by Simon François Gay de Vernon (baron & Napoleonic army colonel, published in France in 1805) translated by John Michael O'Connor,United States Military Academy.
Printed by J. Seymour, New York 1817

vol I- p 294-295
'Before the use of artillery, great quantities of chevaux de frise were carried in the train of armies, and they were then, as in our days, used for several purposes; especially to cover parts of fronts of battle, and shelter them from the assaults of a numerous cavalry. The infantry likewise used them as a moveable intrenchment that was always ready at hand. Nowa-days, the chevaux de frise that are carried along with the artillery train, are of little other use than to close up the outlets and gorges of enclosed works, destroy fords, etc.
The cheval de frise is composed of an hexagonal beam 20 to 30 decimetres (6 3/4 to 10 feet) long, and 20 by 20 centimetres (8 inches). On the six sides or faces 33 stakes called lances, are fixed, and are 15 decimetres (5 feet) long, and in thickness not exceeding 5 by 5 centimetres (2 inches); they are shod with iron. Each beam has its extremities furnished with an iron, ring, from which a chain is extended with two eyes and furnished with a T. This chain serves to unite together all the chevaux de frise, and form one whole of parts difficult to separate.
Chevaux de frise are made of white wood, with a view to render them light. The total weight of one, including the lances, is 63 kilogrammes (abuut 120 lbs. Eng.). We have already seen that openings or passages should be left in the least exposed parts of intrenchments, either for the movements of troops, or lor communicating with the country without. These passages are closed in various modes, but most frequently with particular chevaux de frise, or by barriers. These obstructions are used at all posts, and are prepared by the troops to prevent surprise, This kind of cheval de frise, although a little complex, may be made by the common workmen found in every village. The description therefore of this work, forms part of those elements of fortification in which it is proper to instruct the young officer of the line, so that he may be able to conduct the essential defences of a post.
The body of the cheval de frise intended for closing an outlet, is 30 to 35 decimetres (10 to 12 feet) long, and 25 by 25 centimetres (10 inches) thick: when fixed, the diagonal of the section perpendicular to the axis, is vertical. It is sufficient to bristle it with lances set square on the 4 faces, or we may cut the beam into 6 faces or sides. The lances are set in grooves with iron bolts or heavy nails, and clasped with iron, the better to fix them to the body of the cheval. To make this machine moveable, one of the ends is cut and a hole of 10 centimetres (4 inches) is bored in it, to pass through the rounded head of one of the fixed upright posts. To support the other end of the cheval and give it an interior rotary motion, it is left of the rectangular form for a length of 30 centimetres (1 foot), and on the two upper faces four spindles (fuseaux) are set two by two in the same vertical plane and perpendicular to the axis of the body. These are fixed and strongly bolted, and joined together underneath by a cross piece. The two horizontal cross pieces are 15 centimetres (6 inches) apart; they are crossed in the middle by a bolt with a trundle. This trundle or wheel bears the whole weight of the cheval de frise, and traverses upon a circular timber fixed in the ground. This same end of the cheval lies against the second upright post, and is fixed to it by a bolt or other means.'

ps
original spelling of the 1817 edition

Thursday, July 31, 2014

Some links & sketches

Salve,
so ends the month of July, and on this day falls the birthday of my favourite French actor Louis de Funes, whom I think I saw once riding an equid in his movies, it was a mule.
Well, wherever you are, happy birthday maitre Louis :)


Amongst my old sketches I finally took picture of the whole sketch I did some years back, it was an idea for a graphic story that never went anywhere.

Of course I am sketching the Persians
Saka nomad saddles of I millennium
added a few touches to this Turkish deli
some concept sketches of Slavic warriors & horses of the X and XI centuries
( the first one after a drawing done by a Polish artist Andrzej Klein, author of the fantastic drawings for the monumental work on the Grunwald battle 1410 titled 'Bateria Apud Grunwald')


the last sketch after a drawing by a Polish great story teller and artist Szymon Kobylinski
And finally several articles to read
by Bruno Overlaet - on Sassanian kingship via Naqsh-i-Rustam and Taq-i-Bostan
Marek Jan Olbrycht - Parthian Military strategy at Wars Against Rome
Leonardo Gregoratti - on Palmyrenes and Arsacids (Parthia)
Marian Feldman - on chariots in the late Bronze Age Eastern Mediterranean and Near East.

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Carlo Bossoli - - Crimean Tatars and their world


Salve,
today I would like to bring to you the lithographs made by a Swiss-born and Russian-educated (in Odessa) artist Carlo Bossoli.

In these images we can get the feel of the world long gone , the world of ancient Taurica in the mid XVIII century. Some 50 years after the end of its independence to the Russian Empire, mass migration of Tatars into the Ottoman Empire, and some influx of Russian colonistsprotected by imperial soldeirs and Cossacks.
 The Crimean Tatar world was brought to a stand still by the Russian conquest of their Crimean Khanate during the 1770s, but they did not wither and those who stayed prospered under the Russian Tsars, but then their world(with even more ancient inhabitants of the Peninsula the North Pontic Greeks, also Armenians, Germans and Poles) was  completely eradicated by Stalin and his ilk  during the murderous years of 1944-45. The Nazi Germans killed the other ancient inhabitants, the Jews, during the early occupation in 1941.
But we should return  to the prosperous  XIX century and to our wandering artist then was working under the patronage of Russian aristocrats, and perhaps enjoying the picturesque Peninsula and its inhabitants.
Thus Carlo Bossoli, who lived in southern Russia's Pontic coast until his return to Italy circa 1839,  must have visited Crimea frequently  enough to amass a collection of images of the Peninsula and its inhabitants.
The artwork  Bossoli first created, I presume as sketches and watercolors, he then copied and created lithographs, to have them printed,  and then published as 'Views of the Crimea' (with English and Russian text)  in 1853 .
Some of these memorable images showing the Crimean Tatars, their lives and surroundings.








a night  image of Bakhchysarai painted in 1857 by Bossoli



.
enjoy
ps
images from Wikipedia Commons

Monday, July 21, 2014

Jacques Laurent Agasse - horse painter from Swiss Alps

Salve,
from time to time I 'rediscover' some works of an artists that long time ago I saw at some museum or gallery exhibit.

Today, I bring you Jacques Laurent Agasse (1767-1849), a prodigal painter of horses and animals in general. I was going though Tate Gallery website and a well and long known to me  image of a groom leading a chestnut horse popped out - and quickly I went on a hunt via Wiki Commons to find more scans of this painter's work. And by Jove, there are quite a few :)
There is a web page devoted to Mr Agasse's art and a catalog or two of his works.
 Monsieur Agasse was from Geneva in Swiss Confederacy, studied art in France before the French Revolution, and he came to England under the patronage of Lord Rivers, and in Britain he established himself as a horse painter, especially a painter of the English Thoroughbred as it appeared in the first hald of the XIX century.  Through  his paintings we can easily see that he was a great anatomist, with superb knowledge of horse anatomy. Apparently he made great use of the live studies and anatomical studies, most likely  by perusing the great atlas of equine anatomy by the great George Stubbs, and yet he had started his equine studies in Paris at the veterianry school and most likely the slaughterhouses. It is easy to see that messer Agasse was skilled in painting all sorts of horses, from the English Blood horse, Arabians, big agricultural 'workbeasts,' to nags and finally whole studs, with foals and broodmares. Apart from aesthetic values, in these painting there is plenty of information about horse conformation, riding practices, horse tack, riding attire, stables and coaches, even budding Orientalism - a wealth of information for any a student of the period horse history and genre painting.
Maestro Agasse continued painting horses and other animals for more than 4 decades in the ever so imperial and global England, however it appears that he did not end his career prosperous and was soon forgotten, but some of his creations - sic tranist gloria mundi...
The self-portrait above perhaps evokes the famous work by van Dyck of Charles I, unlucky king of England, Wales and Scotland.

It would be very interesting to see his pencil and charcoal sketches and drawings, I ordered a book from Amazon, so far the best place to buy second-hand albums and artbooks on the web, and perhaps I will learn some more about Jacques-Laurent's art and man himself

Nota bene when you read the description on the Tate's page you may be immediately struck by the pronouncement about  George Stubbs, who allegedly influenced Agasse, as the greatest of horse-painters.  Geroge Stubbs was great but to call him the greatest of horse-painters is but the English national pride and patriotic zeal and not a statement of fact, I dare say. After all all these adverbs and lists proclaiming grandeur and leading role of this or that artist are subject to a Roman saying - de gustibus et coloribus non disputandum est. Ergo, we can agree, that the XVIII century produced some extraordinary horse painters in Europe, and that they influenced the equine art in the centuries to come, even today when the digital photo cameras can produce the most outstanding and precise images..


Enjoy


Sunday, July 20, 2014

Grunwald 2014

Salve,
in 2010 we celebrated the 600 anniversary of one the largest and most important battles of the Middle Ages - Grunwald AD 1410.
So this year it is already 604th anniversary of the Polish-Ruthenian victory (for the allied  Lithuanians under duke Alexander Vitold had been routed in the first part of the battle and returned to the battlefield only towards the end of the fight).
 Every year there is a grand reenactment of the battle at the very same battlefield, and it draws thousands of reenactors from Poland and other countries, and tens of thousands of spectators.

I found, via facebook, this great photographer and reenactor Miss Agnieszka Olbrycht, and she kindly allowed me to use some of her photos from lst weekend event in Poland.









Henryk Sienkiewicz, best known for his novel Quo Vadis, wrote a novel on the Great War 1409-11 titled ''Krzyżacy'' (''The Teutonic Knight'' or ''The Knights of the Cross''), so here we have an older translation by Basil Dahl (New York, 1900), via great internet library archive.org 
And this is our great maestro's description of the battle, with main, albeit fictional, characters Maćko (Matzko) & Zbyszko(Zbyshko)  z Bogdańca (Bogdanietz) . It is based in part on Jan Długosz's ''Annales,'' and obviously very artistic and somewhat fictitious but still great :)











Ps
on his site great French artist  Georges Ramaioli has several sketches from his series 'Les Scythes' (the Scythians) - :)