Sunday 4 June 2023

More Work In Progress For The Battlefields Of Lorraine

More Lorraine WIP

It's been a while since I've posted on the blog, but here's what I've been working on: more buildings for the French province of Lorraine, where the decisive battles of the Franco-Prussian War (FPW) were fought out. Two churches a tavern and a kit-bashed factory, plus some "bits" to fill up the eventual village units.Time to get the paintbrushes out now. Comments on the individual images below. 

Partizan 2023

A few weeks back I enjoyed a day at the Partizan show with my friend Garry Broom. Bought a few things, not least a box of the new Perrys' plastic FPW French. I was touched to get a mention on the information sheet of the set "for additional flag information". Like their Prussian counterparts this is a great set, well proportioned and animated, with lots of choice and a good level of atmosphere and accuracy. I do worry what's happening to the range as a whole though, as it's a full year now since any metal packs were released. 

Talking of Perrys, we bumped into Alan P, who showed us images of the Napoleonic Ottoman cavalry he has sculpted but not released yet: mamelukes, dellis and other exotic types are all ready. It was also great to catch up with pals such as Dave Marshal and James Sharpe (both fellow wargames modelmakers), plus David Imrie, Phil Olley and a real blast from the past, Mark Copplestone, who was demo-ing his 1930's Little Soldiers. Mark is a bit of a leftie like me, and we had a great discussion about the part played by Frederick Engels fighting the Prussian army in the Baden revolutionary war of 1849! Obscure stuff alright.

I'm afraid I sometimes don't look very hard at demo games focussing on the American Civil War, which doesn't interest me much, but Dave Imrie drew me to a model within the game he and Dave Andrews were putting on: a beautifully detailed little lumber mill. We don't see as much from Dave A as we used to, which is a great shame because he has always been one of the very top wargames modellers. This sawmill was a delight, obviously based on study of a real example. It would be ideal for a Wild West game. I would really recommend you look out for this model in photos of the show.

The church of St Privat, a last stand in the churchyard of which forms the subject of about the best-known painting of the FPW, by Alphonse de Neuville. In a slightly "condensed" form this is what it looked like. It was burnt out during the battle and replaced by a new church elsewhere in the village, but the iconic churchyard gate still survives.

This church is based on the one in a Lorraine village called Bremenil. I used a Redutex textured sheet for the dome and it seems to have worked well, easily fitting the curve of the dome here.

When I studied modelmaking long ago we were encouraged to make a "sketch model" to work out the shape of the planned structure. It's not often I bother, but it seemed a good idea in this case, and helped me dodge one or two potential pitfalls. As you can see, it's just cheap card stuck together with masking tape. I kept it just to photograph and now it can go in the bin!

The scene of another favourite painting by de Neuville was the "Auberge du Croix de Lorraine", which you see here. You know, it's the one where a captured French agent stands defiantly before the Prussian staff  lounging around a cafe table! I've never worked out whether this was a real establishment or just an artistic excuse for the dramatic metaphor the painting comprises. At any rate there don't seem to exist any other images of the place whatsoever, so I had to guess everything that isn't in the painting.

Some Lorraine battlefields included early industrial buildings. I bodged this together from an old HO kit by a firm called POLA, "The Old Brickworks". I'd had the kit for 40 years, but it's still available online. Should paint up nicely and contrast with the more traditional buildings.

Finally some "bits": the cross and the pump of Rezonville and another village pump based on contempory illustrations. The first two feature strongly in the Panorama de Rezonville, painted by de Neuville and Edouard Detaille. These models were scratch-built out of styrene, brass rod and a bit of balsa. Pumps seem to have replaced village wells in the late nineteenth century.