Monday, 28 June 2010

Civilians (11)

I thought I'd put these figures under the "Civilians" label but this is the first post of 3 on Eureka Miniatures' 18th century musicians and perhaps they deserve a separate label. Anyway, Eureka have done a fantastic job in releasing this string quartet and "personality" figures of Frederick the Great playing his flute and CPE Bach playing his keyboard (I've finished Frederick but haven't started Bach yet). These are all equisite figures and I recommend them to all 18th century gamers - you can never have enough musicians on the tabletop. The sculpting of the instruments and the way they are being played is very good. I was delighted to see that the viola (my own instrument) is noticeably a bit larger than the violins and I like the way that the players are leaning forward as they play. My only niggle is the positioning of the heads - only the cellist is actually looking at the music. But I suppose you could think of the others as (quite validly) either looking at their finger-work or at each other; on that basis I tried to position the figures so that they are looking at each other.

One option with these figures is to paint them all in the same outfits to represent a court or house band. Given that these are for use in 1770s America I decided against the livery look but tried to create some uniformity by giving each player a powdered wig and a blue coat. I wanted to suggest a group of professionals who are wearing their own clothes but are ensuring that they co-ordinate in some fashion. One of the two violin players has a more elaborate coat than the other and so I decided he should be the leading first violin. For the instruments themselves I found that the Foundry "Tan 14" palette was perfect. The seating of the figures is not quite right, which is a bit annoying because I did some research to see whether is was (and is) more common for the viola or cello to sit on the outside. There is no "correct" answer to that point and I put the viola player on the outside. However, in front of an audience the viola is supposed to be opposite the first violin with the other two forming a semi-circle behind them; this is so that none of the players' backs are presented to the audience. With my figures, even though there is a nice symmetry in the way they sit on the base the backs of two of the players will always be towards the audience. I'm not sure how that happened.... and perhaps it would have been better to have based each player separately, but never mind.

The quartet is playing the opening of Quintet No.6, Op.57 by Luigi Boccherini (the fifth part is piano). When painting the music I wanted to work from an actual score rather than just make up the annotation, and this was one of the few suitable pieces I could print off online. The quintet was probably composed in 1780 and it has a suitable nickname, "The Military Night Watch in Madrid". Trying to fit a full 10 staves on each page would have been ridiculous, so I settled for 4 staves per page and I did try to ensure that what I painted followed the music and thereby captured the various intruments' roles. So, for example, the music for the first violin is busier than for the other players and the viola player (as usual) has some long rests and a part that is not particularly exciting; hopefully the clefs look a bit different too. These figures are part of Eureka's "100 Club" system, whereby you put your name down for figures in advance of their being sculpted. Consequently I don't think they are on general release just yet.

Recordings of suitable period music are easy to find. Some of my favourites are Haydn's Op.17 quartets (1771), Boccherini's Op.19 flute quintets (1774-6) and Antonio Rosetti's Op.6 quartets (1787).

4 figures. Painted June 2010.


Anonymous said...

They look great Giles and must make a change from painting figures at the sharp end of history.

If you changed their heads, they would be good for a few later periods such as Naps etc.
Cheers Paul

Furt said...

They look great - you really put a lot of thought into them.

Sire Godefroy said...

Just another testimonial of your extraordinary commitment to 18th century wargaming! Putting so much effort in a negligible piece is plain adorable.
Thought about a clever use of these models myself, the more since I'm a sucker for 18th century music (if more for the French style). I would happily place them on the battlefield, if just for showing those American philistines what couth is all about. ;-)
In fact, it was my personal key scene when those 'Gibson patriots' blew up a British vessel while Cornwallis tried to threw a civilised party - I was immediately sold to the British cause...


Steve-the-Wargamer said...

Giles - you're mad...! :o)))))

Lovely looking figures though...

Anonymous said...

Lovely work Giles.


Christopher(aka Axebreaker) said...

That's really great and something not often seen.


Anonymous said...

I love how you have handled them and your attention to detail on the scores is nothing short of amazing! I've only finished CPE and Fred myself. I plan to use mine as an objective in more skirmish-level games. One of the musicians has a cleverly encoded message in his sheet music!