Saturday, March 11, 2017

Paint Table Saturday: Thoughts on France and Egypt

I got up early today as the Old Bat has the builders coming around, as she wants a patio door put in so we can access the garden more easily.  Now, while I like looking at the garden from where I sit to type and paint I don't particularly like being in it.  This is largely because if I even venture into it it involves the Old Bat trying to make me do something awful, like lawn mowing or fixing the back fence (the horses in the field keep knocking fence rails out). Looking at the garden is like looking at a whole list of tedious jobs to do, especially pruning and cutting.  Having a garden is just grow your own rubbish, which then has to be taken to the dump (sorry, waste reclamation and transfer station) at regular intervals during the summer  It's all such a waste of time!  So increased access to the garden is not a high priority for me.  Charlotte wants us to put in a cat flap for Harry the cat from next door but that isn't going to happen, especially given the amount of scratching he has been doing on the Old Bat;s living room carpet. So I am not interested in which new radiator, windows, paint etc she wants.  She always asks me what I think and then always ignores it.  "Do what you want," I say. 

"You don't care about the house!" she wails.  I don't, actually. Whereas she spends hour watching house restoration and interior design programmes on TV.  Houses are just containers to hold my stuff.  I don't care what colour the paint is, what the furniture looks like and what the light fittings are.  I am the same on cars; they are just transport.  I don't care what make they are, what colour they are or anything else regarding perceived status.  It's a car.  It says nothing about your worth as a person, actually.  My father-in-law is always telling us off for not washing the car.  What's the point?  It just gets dirty again!  The Old Bat thinks she needs another car (not a new car - how on earth do people afford those? - all my money goes on those waste of time and money children) as lots of things keep going wrong on hers (I don't own a car, of course) so now than man next door (a car dealer, conveniently) keeps coming to the door with cars he has found.  "This one has alloy wheels!" he said yesterday.  Even the Old Bat said, "so what?".  Do these make the car more economical or more reliable?  No.  Pointless, therefore. I don't think people in other countries are as car obsessed as the British.  I wonder whether it is something to do with Britain's company car culture (although these are less prevalent than they used to be), where what model of car you had was indicative of your position in the company.  My uncle, who used to be Chairman of Ford Europe, said that they had to have many more different price banded models in the UK because of company car buyer requirements.

Anyway, while she bombards the builders with questions which I have already failed to answer (does that have a straight or corner valve?) I will get on with my NW Frontier figures.  Not really close to finishing any but it is shading on jackets and trousers today, although the light isn't brilliant again.  I have ordered some NCOs for the British from North Star but they haven't turned up, even though the figures I ordered the day before them arrived over a week ago.  I will have to decide at what point I will chase them.

Some more figures (I hate the way Americans call them 'minis') did arrive, though.  Just when I am focussing on a couple of projects I do something mad and start a whole new period.  The Franco-Prussian War is one of those conflicts where my primary interest is because of the uniforms rather than the history.  Actually, I think that is always the case.  I can't imagine buying figures for a period with ugly uniforms (Spanish Civil War, for example)!  I had high hopes that Footsore Miniatures would complete there range but, after a few (very nice) releases of French infantry, they stoppped dead.  Instead I have got some figures from the relatively new firm Eagles of Empire.  So far, there are two types of infantry for each side available in the range.  

They come in unit packs with a card of statistics for forthcoming rules but whether these are big battle Black Powder type or TMWWBK skirmish type I don't know.  They are of the Perry type, are anatomically correct (sculpted by Ebor (Bob Naismith?), I believe) and are at the top end of 28mm figures in height (if not bulk).  These are carrying a lot of kit and are not going to be quick to paint, especially as I don't have any reference books for the period.  I like them, however; there is something Old School about their proportions and they also look, well, nineteenth century!  More on these another time, although it does mean that I am now at a neutral point on the lead pile for this year.  I need to paint and sell more figures.  I opened one of the little drawers I keep my unpainted figures in the other day and had no idea what the figures were that were inside.  I really need to do a big audit and start selling!

One of the other colonial conflicts I have been interested in for some time is the Anglo-Egyptian war of 1882.  Although suitable Egyptian figures are available in the Perry Sudan range (and I have even painted some) suitable British were not.  Now, however, by combining the Perry plastic North West Frontier (heads) and forthcoming Zulu war (bodies) figures you will be able to make appropriate figures for this. 

I was thinking about this the other day, when looking at pictures of Mark Hannam's splendid Alexandria game.  I already have some British Naval Brigade painted plus some Egyptians and this would male a good TMWWBK game for the future.

It's not a popular conflict for wargaming because there was only one big battle, which was very one sided (the British lost more men to heatstroke than enemy fire). I first read about it in a novel by Richard Hough called Buller's Guns which features land actions in Alexandria as well as the bombardment, which saw much of the city burn to the ground.

The music I listened to while writing this post was the complete set of piano concerti by Saint-Saëns (1835-1921).  These days he is largely remembered for his organ symphony and the Carnival of the Animals but he composed a lot of really melodic music.  His Aquarium, from the Carnival of the Animals, was one of the first bits of classical music I fell in love with at the age of about nine, when it was played in school assembly one morning.  His second piano concerto is the best known and is a Classic FM favourite (not that that is necessarily a good thing).  I prefer his fifth piano concerto (the Egyptian), composed for his own  jubilee concert to celebrate his fiftieth anniversary as a performer (he was a child prodigy).  It was composed in Luxor in 1896 and is full of exotic Egyptian colour.  Perfect for nineteenth century adventures in Egypt.  Saint-Saëns served in the National Guard during the Franco Prussian War, it should be noted.

Sleeping Bather (1850)

Today's wallpaper is  by Théodore Chassériau (1819-1856) and is a remarkably frank nude portrait for the time. It was a body that the artist knew well, however, as she was his lover, Alice Ozy (1820-1893), born Julie Justine Pilloy, the daughter of a Parisian jeweller. Julie worked as an embroideress in Paris and then Lyon.  Returning to Paris, the sixteen year old Julie caught the eye of an actor at a dance hall in Montparnasse. He suggested she become an actress (he suggested several other things to her as well) and got her some small roles. She got her first real role in vaudeville at the age of seventeen and took the stage name Alice Ozy (based on her mother's maiden name). For the next five years her roles and acclaim increased until by 1845, she was one of the best regarded young actresses in Paris.With this fame came wealthy male admirers.  Like many actresses of the time she became a courtesan, being paid by wealthy men for ' companionship'. One of her lovers left her a large legacy when she was still young, which she invested wisely.  In 1843 she started a relationship with the novelist and poet Theophile Gautier and in short order also 'entertained' the writer Nestor Roqueplan, the Emperor Napoleon's son, Louis-Napoléon Bonaparte (the future Napoleon III of France) as well as Henri d’Orléans, duc d’Aumale, the son of the then King of France, Louis-Philippe. She was never short of suitors and later had an affair with Charles Hugo, the son of the novelist Victor Hugo.  Charles, fed up with Alice's other lovers asked his father what he should do about the situation, whereupon Victor bombarded her with erotic poems and took her as his (additional) mistress instead, much to his son's annoyance. All this ended in 1848, when she fled the revolution in Paris for London.

Portrait of Alice Ozy (1848) by Chassériau

When she returned to Paris, later in 1848, she started a two year, tempestuous relationship with the painter of this picture Théodore Chassériau.  Their relationship ended when she asked him for one of his paintings which he intended for his family. He refused but she insisted and eventually, in order to end the arguments, he agreed to give it to her (so to speak). It just happened that he was enjoying breakfast with Alice at her apartment when the painting arrived by carriage from his studio. In a fit of remorse at giving the painting to Alice, he slashed it to ribbons in front of her and walked out on her for good.  She retired from the stage in 1855 and reverted to her birth name of Julie Pilloy. using her friends in the banking world to increase her fortune. She bought a house outside Paris and kept a lavish apartment on the Boulevard Haussmann.

Time Slaying Love

Another lover of Ozy's was the artist Gustave Doré, who designed a special clock for Ozy's apartment in Paris, where it was displayed in the entrance hall. Called Time Slaying Love it shows Time slaying cherubs with his spear. The message from Ozy was that any relationship with her was going to be fleeting, as time is the enemy of love (how very true). Julie Justine Pilloy remained unmarried (although far from without male companionship) and died, a wealthy woman, in her apartment on March 3rd 1892, at the age of 72.  Chassériau died many years before this, at the age of 37 after years of ill health


  1. Another great post. As i was reading the first couple of paragraphs i found myself nodding in agreement - house, garden & cars that's how I feel too.
    Those french line infantry look amazing so much kit and detail.

  2. Oh I agree with that.. gardening is just growing your own rubbish. I hate it!

  3. An excellent ramble sir and educational too. I loved the first part and agree 100% with your sentiments, although I would be loathe to part with the Batmobile.

  4. Now I quite like gardening, but only when I haven't anything else to do, which probably explains why it is such a mess.

  5. My thoughts about the garden are mirrored here. Nice figures.

  6. Thoroughly entertaining stuff, people who judge you by the car you drive really are oxygen thieves of the highest water. Saint Saens was also my first brush with classical music, Danse Macabre aged 11 at Comprehensive School, still remember Death with his violin. Must differ over the gardening though, couldn't survive without home grown French beans & divers other greens! Regards HGA.

  7. Another fine ramble today! Gardening; I agree but one does what one must.
    Looking forward to seeing you put paint on the fine French Eagles of Empire figures. Please push those up into your painting queue.

  8. I must say I hate gardening too. I currently own a house with a large garden which in retrospect was a major error to buy such a burden. I do like classic architecture though so I am not indifferent to the house itself!