The painting “The Dice Game”, which very accurately depicts the appearance of the equestrian soldiers of the mid-17th century It is located in the Penza Art Gallery. K.A. Savitsky
The thick candle in it barely flickered.
The throaty executioners walked in it,
Shamelessly bragging about his craft.
Bosch winked at me: “We came, they say,
Don’t hit with a glass, don’t squeeze a maid,
And on a primed board on a plane
Settle everyone into salting or for scrap. “
He sat down in the corner, narrowed his eyes and began:
I flattened my noses, enlarged my ears,
Healed everyone and twisted,
He marked their baseness forever.
Meanwhile, the feast in the tavern was in full swing.
Scoundrels, laughing and joking,
Didn’t know what shame and grief promised them
This painting of the Last Judgment.
Pavel Antokolsky. Jerome Bosch
Military affairs at the turn of the eras. There is a beautiful old building “with a turret” in the city of Penza. In the past it was the building of the Peasant Land Bank, then – some Soviet institutions, but as a result, it housed an art gallery named after K. A. Savitsky, a famous artist, our fellow countryman. Well, this building is just perfect for an art gallery and, we note that the selection of paintings in it is very interesting and worthy. I was taken to it since childhood, then I myself took my students into it and always glanced at a small canvas in the hall of Western European painting: “The Game” (There are variants of the name, for example, one of them is “Knights at a Dice Game”) by the artist Sweebach Jean François Joseph (pseudonym De Fontaine).
We have given this name on the signature …
The fact is that as a child I was most attracted to battle canvases, and with them in our gallery “not so much”, so I admired the warriors depicted on it according to the principle “from a black sheep, even a tuft of wool.” Later, the realism of the image began to attract me in it. After all, the canvas is small in size, but how exactly the smallest details of the costumes are shown on it. In fact, it can be used as an illustration for an article, well, say, about the same reiters or cuirassiers.
The building of the art gallery cannot fail to attract attention to its architecture.
Although there is one “but”. The author himself lived somewhat later than the era for which the costumes he painted were typical. That is, he worked according to some artistic sources, and did not paint from life. But there are samples of material culture – clothes and armor, which, firstly, confirm everything that he painted, and secondly, there were other artists who wrote their canvases in the 16th century and he could easily redraw something from them.
Suebach Jacques François Joseph “Knights Playing Dice”. I wonder why the players are called “knights”? Just because one of them has an iron helmet on his head?
And here we come close to one very interesting topic. How many canvases can serve as historical sources? And the answer will be this: some canvases can, others not. And still others can only partially. For example, the painting “The Surrender of Delirium” or “Spears” (the second name is due to the fact that there are really a lot of copies on the canvas!) By Diego Velazquez, written by him in 1634-1635, may well. Since it depicts an event that took place on June 5, 1625, when the governor of the Dutch city of Breda, Justin of Nassau, handed over the keys to him to the commander-in-chief of the Spanish army Ambrosio Spinole. That is, from the moment of the event itself to the moment of its reflection on the canvas, only ten years have passed and during this time neither fashion nor military art has changed.
“Delivering Delirium”, painting by Diego Velazquez. (Prado Museum, Madrid)
And here is the picture “Morning on the Kulikovo field” by A.P. Bubnov – no. And not even because he was not a contemporary of this event. Simply, the armed rabble depicted on it somehow could not become the force that defeated the army of Mamai. And if the prince himself fought with the “nasty”, being dressed in the armor of an ordinary vigilante (about which there are written reports), then … need I say that the soldiers in ragged chain mail and without helmets could not stand there at all in the front ranks, even if any were present in our army. There was just such a political trend at that time, reflected, for example, in the movie “Alexander Nevsky” (and even in the movie “Treasure Island”, also in 1938), where it was shown how the bast shoes were beating the German knight-dogs with a gaggle.
The painting by I. Glazunov “Battle on the Maiden’s Field” is also very peculiar. There are no complaints about armor and weapons, but the tactics of the battle depicted on the canvas at that time can cause nothing but laughter.
Now on VO there is a cycle of articles about warriors and armor of military affairs at the turn of the eras, so it makes sense to get acquainted with at least some of the paintings that can serve us as sources of information on this topic. One of such artists was David Teniers the Younger (1610 – 1690), who painted in 1642 the painting “The Guard House”, in which he skillfully merged a military still life, a genre scene, a landscape with figures. In the foreground, we see a simply luxurious still life of knightly armor, weapons, flags, drum, trumpet, and timpani. Well, the panoramic landscape shows us the scene of the siege of the fortress standing on the seashore.
“Guardhouse”. David Teniers the Younger, 1642 (State Hermitage, St. Petersburg)
Next, we see that the scene is a guardhouse, possibly a temporary barracks room. It contains two cavalry officers belted with scarves, and a cavalry soldier who puts on his boots to intercede, as well as several infantrymen. Their clothes are of no interest, which cannot be said about the weapons depicted here. For example, this is a sword with a three-edged blade extending towards the hilt. What’s so unusual about that? And the fact is that for a long time it was believed that such blades spread only in the last quarter of the 17th century. The fact is that the Italian school of fencing dominated in Europe for a long time. The main counter of this school was the frontal one. At the same time, the fencers were holding a sword in their right hand, and in their left – a parrying dagger.
Pistol set, mid-17th century The pistols are made and decorated by the Italian Giovanni Antonio Gavacciolo, one of the best locksmiths in Brescia. His work was so highly acclaimed that the Venetian government donated Gavacciolo firearm kits to King Louis XIII of France (1610-1643) and King of Persia. The barrels were made by Lazarino Cominazo. Length: 47.110 cm. Caliber 12.6 mm; Weight 1003 (Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York)
Then it was replaced by the French school, which is considered more progressive. Its founders changed the fencer’s stance and turned him sideways to the enemy, thereby reducing the area of the body that could be hit by his opponent. The dagger in his left hand was no longer needed. But now it was necessary to strongly strengthen the blade of the sword at the hilt, which led to the fact that the blades of the swords became trihedral. And it was Teniers’ painting that made it possible to prove that the first samples of such swords began to be used about thirty years earlier than it was considered before it was studied.
Three-Quarter Armor, c. 1645, that is, practically “contemporaries” of the armor on the canvas and, by the way, are very similar to them. Place of manufacture: Brescia. Weight: 26.85 kg without helmet. Helmet – 4300 (Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York)
Photographically accurately depicted Teniers and firearms. For example, in his “still life” you can see a pistol and a musket (we do not see the second pistol of the same type, which was supposed to be included in the dragoon’s headset, it is quite possible that he was simply overwhelmed with a weapon. Instead, another, small pistol is drawn. he showed, for example, that the lock shelves on them are closed, and the triggers are on a safety platoon, as is required when storing a loaded weapon of this system.
Another wheeled rider pistol, this time a Swiss one. OK. 1650 Length: 54.9 cm. Barrel length: 34.6 cm. Caliber 11.4 mm. Weight 1247.4 g (Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York)
And he did not even forget about such a detail as the screwdriver, which is depicted attached to the trigger guard at the gun and which was used to clamp the pyrite in the trigger. And next to the wheeled pistol is the key to it – the remontuar, which is necessary to tighten the spring of the wheel. So, on the musket, the lock is no longer a wheel lock, but an impact lock with an S-shaped serpentine in the back of the lock board. Such a castle was named French due to the fact that the French royal artist and gunsmith Maren le Bourgeois (1550-1634) is considered its inventor.
One of the best-preserved French armor, dating from the reign of Henry IV (1589-1610) and possibly belonging to him. A good example of how the French nobility loved fully gilded armor. It retains the original yellow silk helmet lining and red leather straps sewn with metal thread. Shaffron (horse head protection) is also in the collection of the Metropolitan Museum (art. No. 27.177.2, that is, obviously it was a horseman’s set), and the saddle is in the Museum of Art in Paris. Despite its rich finish, this “armor” was intended for use in combat. Moreover, this armor “in three quarters” was made just at this time, when the cavalry in heavy armor abandoned the spear in favor of a pair of pistols, which were stored in holsters in the front of the saddle. The penetrating power of the new weapon has led to an increase in the weight of such armor and the phasing out of elements such as protection of the lower legs. Manufactured around 1600 in France. Height 144.8 cm; weight 34.98 kg. (Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York)
And if in 1642 a musket with such a lock ended up in some godforsaken guardhouse in service with an ordinary dragoon, then this can only speak of one thing, namely that by this time it was shock locks in muskets that had become very widespread, and supplanted the wick locks. But in the cavalry, wheel locks continued to be used as before!
Arme helmet with a strap attached. Attention is drawn to such an inconspicuous detail as “cord trim”, that is, a twisted edge of the necklace is made on it. It is known that the armé with gorja, which was very common in the “Maximilian armor” of the early 16th century, survived until the next century – a good example of the technical perfection of such finishing of the edges of various parts of the armor. The ridge on the helmet gradually increased in size, but from 1590 it began to gradually decrease.
In addition, among the pile of weapons, we see standing black cuirassier armor and a lying polished cuirass, as well as a bourguignot helmet, plate gloves, spurs, and also a chasing – which has become a popular weapon of light cavalry, and a saber that looks like a Polish shipbuilder! That is, in this guardroom there should have been also riders of light cavalry, because cuirassiers did not use sabers and did not wear mints!
The armor is adorned with stunning engraving, combined with the gilding of the floral ornament engraved on their surface!
That is how much, it turns out, the study of one single picture can give, if it is written with knowledge of the matter and if the researchers carefully understand its details!
To be continued…