Another Mitrecap Miniature, as promised in my last post.
I’ve really enjoyed the challenge of painting this one. The challenge chiefly lay in getting the colour of the tunic right.
Here’s why: the tunic is a shade of blue that seems to be difficult to define. The Barlow and Smith book on the Sussex Yeomanry Cavalry has the following description:
“The tunic was a double-breasted Indian Army pattern in a special bright dark blue superfine cloth – virtually the same shade as the facings on the obsolete khaki Full Dress which showed up the black braiding more distinctly.”
Yes, a special bright dark blue. Sounds a bit like describing ‘a dull, shiny green’ or ‘a vivid, drab yellow’! R.J. Marrion’s artwork uses a palette which further beguiles. It seems to be a dark blue but with a velvety green tinge, the highlights themselves being turquoise.
Some assistance came in the form of a single photograph I discovered of headgear worn I believe by the Sussex Yeomanry historical reenactment group. One of these caps is a dead ringer for the cap seen on my figure and Marrion’s cover illustration. Sure enough, the colour appears to be a green-tinged blue – something approaching a dark teal colour. So, I went with that in mind and mixed my own colours.
This cap is described in the following way:
Officers wore an army blue forage cap with black patent leather peak and chin strap; the peak was edged 3/4 inch in gold embroidery for field officers and 1/2 inch for troop officers. The cap had a gilt badge and buttons, a yellow band and yellow piping in the crown seam.
The braid threw up another puzzle. Marrion appears to clearly show it as being a lighter version of the same greenish-blue as the tunic, but the text by Barlow and Smith very clearly state it to be ‘black’, describing “five loose loops of black plaited chain gimp cord across the front, with olivets and Austrian knots at the outer ends“. I’ve gone with Barlow and Smith on this as they seemed very clear on this point and painted them black.
The overalls appear to be more simply a dark blue; “Blue overalls with a single broad yellow stripe…“. Marrion’s illustration also seems to reflect this blue colour as being distinct from the ‘special bright dark blue” of the tunic. All this fussing over the colour might seem ridiculous as I’m aware that under the camera lens, the blue of the tunic and the blue of the overalls look the same. All I can say is that they do look like the subtle but distinctly different shades that I intended them to be to my naked eye!
The collar was very unusual. It was described as being yellow, which even a quick glance will contradict. It appears to be totally dark blue or black. However, this is a consequence of lots of black braid; “Yellow collar, edged all round with similar (i.e. black) braid, traced inside with black cord to form 16 eyes on the yellow centre.” I confess, I didn’t paint the full 16 eyes, I managed 13 in total, all the tip of my 00 brush and my unsteady hand would allow!
“A gold oak-leaf lace pouch belt on blue Morocco leather with gilt buckle tip and slide (no breast ornaments) black leather pouch with gilt Royal Cypher and crown on the flap.” Unfortunately, the pouch belt had none of the engraved patterns of the Tradition South Notts Hussar that I painted in 2019, so it appears as a plain yellow-gold. Likewise the pouch itself, so I’ve vaguely approximated the cypher and crown design.
This Full Dress uniform was approved by royal submission on 3 April 1909, rejecting, incidentally, a previous dragoon design created by the renowned military artist Harry Payne. White wrist gloves complete the uniform which was reserved for Levee or ceremonial occasions only.
This figure came in an attractive little red box, although my other Mitrecap figures are in a bag instead. A particular challenge I perhaps could have done without however is that Mitrecap figures are cast without a ‘peg’ under a foot to assist with standing or fixing on to a plinth. Consequently, I’ve drilled the leg and inserted my own improvised metal peg for stability – he’s not going anywhere! Otherwise, I’ve been most impressed with this Mitrecap Miniature and I look forward to painting more.