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"Colour of Swedish gun carriages c.1630?" Topic

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Supercilius Maximus30 Oct 2016 2:45 p.m. PST

Were Swedish gun carriages painted under Gustavus Adolphus, or was there an even earlier choice of colour for the wood? I'm thinking particularly of regimental guns, but also the heavier and medium pieces as well.

I know that by the late 17th Century/GNW period, the Swedes had moved to a sort of royal/medium blue, possibly with brass fittings, but did this come in earlier?

robert piepenbrink Supporting Member of TMP30 Oct 2016 3:07 p.m. PST

This being TMP,someone will eventually know better, but bet on blue and some sort of yellow. There's a very strong tendency for gun carriages to reflect livery colors--or coats of arms: usually much the same. So a Habsburg black eagle on a gold field becomes ochre yellow with black metalwork, French white lillies on a blue field becomes blue gun carriages, and an English lions on red runs to red gun carriages down into the 18th Century. (I suspect that Hohenzollern medium blue was supposed to be silver as in black eagle on a silver field. Marvel used to do the Silver Surfer like that.) So a royal Swedish three gold crowns on a blue field gets you to the blue and yellow they were still using in the Napoleonic Wars.

It's not evidence.But in the absence of evidence, it's a pretty good way to bet.

Supercilius Maximus30 Oct 2016 3:16 p.m. PST

Thanks, Robert. I like your thinking on heraldry, and was tempted to go with that, too. However, having just read the two Osprey books on GA's army, the author made it very clear that "blue-and-yellow" livery was definitely a post-GA development, and that its use in portraits of him (invariably posthumous and/or foreign) is inaccurate. GA tended to wear black sashes, apparently – so if it's all the same, I'm going to see what crops up from Daniel S and the other "usual suspects".

(Thinking through into the ECW, sash colour was also very much still a C-in-C choice in that war, too – Essex's orange, and Waller's yellow, for example.)

Daniel S30 Oct 2016 4:43 p.m. PST

Livery colours = artillery colours is a later idea that 19th C historians and others have gladly applied to earlier without much in the way of supporting evidence. The lack of surviving gun carriages for 17th C field artillery puts a real break on research into the subject and we are pretty much limited to artwork and administrative documents as sources.

If we look at the artwork from the period gun carriages are shown as plain wood, none of the paintings by Snayers or Vrancx that I have seen show painted gun carriages for example to take two of the most reliable artists.

None of the historians researching the Swedish artillery of the 1600-1660 period seems to have uncovered evidence of the gun carriages being painted in the archives, there seems to be no surviving order for paint or payment issued to painters. (In contrast the naval records have a lot evidence connected to the paint used on Swedish warships.)

Some of the salute cannon and cannon models in the Skokloster palace collection have painted carriages, the problem is that these were not military cannon but used on festive occasions and thus may have been given a coat of paint to look properly festive. We also don't know if the cannon were altered by later owner such as Nils Brahe who inherited the palace from fieldmarshal Wrangel.
The paint used on the Skokloster cannon are a couple of shades of bluish-gray, some are more blue than gray but the colour is not vivid. Metalwork both on the painted and unpainted gun carriages are black.

GA used the Vasa livery colours which were black and yellow, yellow cloth was the mainstay of the clothing issued to members of his court such as the drabant bodyguard, pages and so on. The distinctive yellow uniforms of the Houshold foot regiment, Hovregementet aka the Yellow regiment was also connected to the Vasa yellow.
However HMS Wasa was not painted in yellow & black nor i yellow and blue, rather the examination of surviving colour fragments and the records have shown that the main colour used on her was red with numerous gold decorations as well as many scultures painted in their proper "natural colours".

Supercilius Maximus31 Oct 2016 2:40 a.m. PST

Daniel – When you say "yellow" (particularly in a uniform sense), do you mean a bright, modern yellow, or do you mean a light, ochre sort of colour?

keithbarker31 Oct 2016 3:18 a.m. PST

I had "Gustav II Adolf och hans folk" by Göte Göransson handy so I looked in it.

The Swedish artillery carriages seem to be shown as unpainted wood.

There is an illustration showing the Yellow Lifeguard regiment at Lützen, I would say the colour is slightly brighter than yellow ochre but not a modern bright yellow.

Daniel S31 Oct 2016 3:18 a.m. PST

It's a muted but fairly rich colour to judge by the preserved clothing.

Supercilius Maximus31 Oct 2016 3:52 p.m. PST

Thanks, guys – much appreciated.

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