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.