Thursday, 27 November 2014

help with a reader's query

Dear Ralphus, 

I am taking the liberty of contacting you with a question, encouraged by you excellent blog, yet understand if this is a bit off topic. But - given you should have the time and interest, I ask; 

Do you have any idea about the uniform worn by the horsemen in this picture? Or any other comments on the image? I have bought the painting at an auction in Denmark, and it is signed 'Mevlen'. One possibility is the Flemish painter Adam Frans van der Meulen (1632-1690). See:

Knowing AF Meulen's affiliation with Louis XIV, I am trying to figure out the uniforms of the horsemen in order to place the scene more precisely in history. Now, he did paint extensively on battle scenes, but also things like this, of encounters (and ambushes) in the woods and on roads. (I am not quite sure what the men on the ground are representing, though, but there seems to be a story being reflected). 

Any comments or ideas are welcome - from my initial research I realise that French uniforms weren't fully standardised before the end of the 17th century. From other images the furthest I could get was that they resembled the attire of French musketeers a bit, yet there are no guns carried, as far as I can see. The red trousers with the ornaments do look like something someone with a higher standing might be wearing (officers, members of court??), but maybe the cavalry as such had a fairly high standing?

Best regards, 



Simon Jones said...

Hello These look like they come from the 30 years war period. Uniforms as such did not exist other than the coloured regiments in the Swedish Army. They could be some kind of bodyguard unit like the French Musketeers. However these wore basically civilian dress of the period with the uniform tabbard over this.
Best regards Simon

Tormod said...

Hi Simon,
Thanks for the input - and thanks to Ralphus for posting my inquiry!
Just googling this lead, I found this book: Imperial Armies of the Thirty Years' War (2) Cavalry
If you have other recommended readings or websites, I'm grateful. Best, Tormod

Tormod said...

Just an additional note:
Following on these leads, I realize a simple fact: The red sashes most likely mean that the cavalerists are Spanish (or affiliated), such as the Army of Flanders:

In A History of the Laws of War: Volume 1, Alexander Gillespie states that " 1632 Albrecht Wallenstein (1583-1634), stipulated that all soldiers in the Austrian and Spanish armies must wear a red sahs or red feather in their hats...".
(Thanks to Google books!)

If the painting is by AF Meulen, this would mean that it should be from before Meulen was called to Louis XIV in 1662. In his later battle paintings, the French cavalerists mostly seem to wear white sahses. In fact, the whole scene in this image looks more like the paintings of Meulen's master, Pieter Snayers (whose cavalerists wear red - as the Spanish did in Flanders).