Friday, 1 December 2017

The Sound of a Distant Drum: Citizens of Laarden, 1688


Over the past few weeks, I've been having fun painting up some 25mm civilian figures for my fictional Flemish town of Laarden from 1688.  Civilian figures for the seventeenth century are a bit of an after-thought in many ranges.  You have to cast the net fairly wide to find figures which are suitable but, with a little luck, I think I found some very useful figures.


The figures in the photograph above are from Midlam Miniatures, apart from the second on the left which is a rather ancient old-school Citadel Miniature which I've had lying around for just over thirty years.  I knew she would come in useful at some point!


The Midlam Miniatures' women carrying loads of laundry and milk-pails look perfect for a Dutch or Flemish town, even down to the headwear which can be seen in lots of period paintings.


I wanted a few beggars in the town to also add a grimly realistic tone.  I didn't realise when I started, but there is a pretty substantial literature online about beggars and the shifting social reaction to begging in the sixteenth and seventeenth century.  Many Flemish religious reformers and scholars wrote extensively on how to identify fake beggars, on how poor relief should correctly administered and how deceitful begging threatened the public order.  These tensions infused some of the art of the period.  Plenty of artists, including Bosch and Bruegel, seem to have been fascinated by beggars as subjects of their paintings and sketches. 

I converted the (very useful) Midlam Miniatures seated beggar with a head-swap, adding an ECW spare head from Redoubt Miniatures for the representation of an old soldier fallen on hard times. Surely he's one of the deserving poor of Laarden.  Or maybe, just perhaps, he might be a less deserving vagabond, or even a French spy...?




With the forthcoming Analogue Hobbies Painting Challenge VIII about to start on the 20th December, I have been busy preparing some more citizens.  These are, mainly, from Midlam Miniatures and from Redoubt.  I've added a few geese from Magister Militum, and even an old Citadel townsfolk rat-catcher (again with a Redoubt head-swap).



Last, but hopefully not least, there's a Foundry nightwatchman, straight from the pages of Rembrandt, with his trusty halberd swapped for a Mordheim lantern.  Here's hoping he might form the last line of defence when the French arrive to besiege or storm the town!


40 comments:

  1. Excellent! The Midlam figures are rather nice, I just wish they were slightly bigger? I shall look forward to see the figures with a lick or two of paint on them.

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    1. Hi Ray! The Midlam Miniatures figures are lovely, but yes - they are much more '25mm' than '28mm'. They are a perfect fit for some of the older 25mm figures on the market - and perhaps, in particular, figures from the 1980s and 1990s. They fit perfectly with Dixon Gran Alliance, Foundry ECW and Marlburians, Perry ECW, and 1st Corps Thirty Years War ranges. They paint up very nicely as well.

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  2. These are delightful and I can't wait to see the others come to life over the challenge.

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    1. Thanks so much, Michael. I am more than slightly nervous about my ability to get any of these figures actually painted, but I've been focusing on trying to prepare them as fully as possible to reduce any time needed to model and convert in the Challenge itself. I wonder if this plan will survive contact with the enemy!

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  3. Splendid, just the thing games need.

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    1. Thanks Phil. It's always interesting to see forces like militia and civilians on the tabletop, and the 17th Century os one of those periods you can deploy them knowing it's not a million miles away from reality. I'm hoping they'll be fun to see in "action".

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  4. Lovely painting indeed Sidney! As to the drawings of the poor I find it a bit odd all are clean shaven?

    Christopher

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    1. Good point, Christopher!! I'd not noticed that, but very well spotted. I think that calls for some detective work..... watch this space!

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  5. Nice job! Period civvies are often hard to find in miniature.

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    1. Thanks Charles. Sometimes it is a little difficult finding models which are doing just 'normal' things - carrying boxes, barrels, loot, guiding horses, digging, and the like. I know, I know.... first world problems, right? But it is nice to find civilian figures which fit the period and which also are the right scale and size.

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  6. Great sculpts, but that color scheme is just incredible. That cream, gray blue and dull rust brown is so perfect! They look like they stepped out of a period painting.

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    1. John, thank you so much for the great comment - I looked at a lot of the period paintings of David Teniers and Philips Wouvermans, trying to get the colours right. I had thought, initially, that many civilians would have been clothed simply in black. However, I think this was more of an upper-middle class clothing 'look' - lots of the civilians or peasants seem to have been wearing unbleached linens, browns and greys in the paintings. I admit its all a bit of guesswork on my part!

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  7. Top notch painting, love the color shemes...

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  8. Delightful figures and lovely paint work.

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  9. Beautiful work, Sid! I always love your use of colour. Looking forward to seeing the rest of these citizens over the next few months of the Challenge!

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    1. Hopefully the other civilians will be accompanying the baggage trayne, sometime towards the end of winter!

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  10. Great looking civilians Sidney! Your city of Laarden will be teeming with life once the challenge is over.

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    1. ..... of course, I'll actually need to finish building Laarden first !!!

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  11. Lovely work Sid. I very much like your conversion for the nightwatchman too.

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    1. Thanks so much, Millsy. I admit, I can't wait to paint the nightwatchman and the ratcatcher !

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    1. Thanks Neil, and thanks for dropping by, Sir!

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  13. Lovely colour palette, delightful figures, I've dusted off a 30 year old citadel civilian, hoping to paint her during the challenge, I believe she is a "seated trollope "who could pass for a whole range of periods!
    Best Iain

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    1. I love the idea of a "seated trollop". Endless uses for such a characterful character. It reminds me of when I once said to my wife, in an unguarded moment, that I was "looking for camp followers and prostitutes online", hastily adding the words "...in 25mm" as the frost started to crackle on the inside of the windows ;)

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  14. Lovely looking bunch of wretches.

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  15. Great stuff kind sir! Perhaps the fact that many painters were obsessed with beggars comes from the fact that this was the Dutch Golden Age and even the lower classes were fairly well off, so a true beggar would be something of an exception. Also it might be a way for them to get through to the small group of Burgers called "Regents" (regenten) who ruled the Dutch Republic and try to tell them that there were a lot of poor even in the Republic...

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    1. That's a great insight, Sander - thank you so much! Perhaps we'll find out how the burghers of Laarden felt about the beggars of the town in future blog posts..... (hint, hint)

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  16. Exellent minis and stunning paintwork !

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