So now I know why I’ve steered clear of attempting to paint hussars in the past. All that intricate gold braiding, outrageous colours and a fancy fur-lined pelisse cast rakishly over the shoulder make for some fiddly painting. Following on from the previous post’s Scots Greys, I’ve picked to do some hussars which are also up for grabs in the BFFFWP exhibition. Whether I’ll submit, or get the chance to submit, all these figures is a moot point, but nevertheless it’s nice to have something to paint for, beyond simply obeying one’s own whims and preferences.
A few words about Hussars. Basically, they are a type of light cavalry which originated in Hungary. The etymology of the word is complicated, but its emergence as a military unit came as bands of émigré Serbian cavalry were employed in wars against the Ottoman Turks. Throughout the 18th and 19th centuries, hussars gradually became a familiar feature in many European armies.
Q: What’s the difference between a hussar and a light dragoon? This isn’t a joke; it’s the kind of rhetorical question that occupies my mind when to everybody else at my workplace I simply appear to be just staring into space. The answer, so far as I can tell, is ‘fashion’: Hungarian style. First, they wore a short jacket called a Dolman with lots of horizontal gold braid on it. An over-jacket, usually with yet more ornate braiding, called a Pelisse was usually worn slung over a shoulder. Headgear was (usually) a busby with a coloured bag hung over one side of it. Finally, an incorrigibly dashing moustache was an essential part of ‘the look’.
The whole point of all this extreme military dandyism was to cultivate the type of regiment which at least according to one French brigadier “…could set a whole population running, the men away from them and the women towards them.” Indeed, according to wikipedia:
Hussars had a reputation for being the dashing, if unruly, adventurers of the army. The traditional image of the hussar is of a reckless, hard-drinking, hard-swearing, womanising, moustachioed swashbuckler. General Lasalle, an archetypal showoff hussar officer, epitomized this attitude by his remarks, among which the most famous is: "Any hussar who is not dead by the age of thirty is a blackguard." He died at the Battle of Wagram at the age of 34.
All this ornate fashion sense could make them more expensive to equip and it certainly makes them more difficult to paint. I’m using the figures recommended in the BFFFWP, Esci’s British Crimean Hussars. Like the Scots Greys, these chaps are also an unpainted relic of my youth, recovered from the loft. Apparently, these Esci figures make for better Napoleonic hussars than Crimean ones, so I’m painting the Bremen and Verden Hussar regiment (green dolman) and the Luneburg Regiment (blue dolman). Lots to do on them still, as can be seen in the photos, and I haven’t even started on their horses. In fact, the horses are a bit of a problem as they have been sculpted without a sheepskin blanket cover. Which frankly just won’t do. Obviously. I mean, these are hussars, for heaven’s sake!
Updates to be posted.