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"Once again: colour of French ordnance in 1745" Topic

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Spoercken24 Sep 2018 2:37 a.m. PST

Old subject, and I have read much about it, here and elsewhere, but I still don't know how to paint my French ordnance for 1745 (just before the battle of Fontenoy).

My latest reference book, "The French Army of the War of the Austrian Succession 1740-1748" by David Wilson, says: "The gun carriages were painted red, the ironwork black, and the barrels were probably kept polished. Based on period paintings, sometime between the latter part of the war, c. 1744 and the beginning of the Seven Years War, the colour changed, and the woodwork began to be painted in a pale medium blue…"

Now, if I trust this opinion, I seem to be safe with painting my 1745 cannon in red, since, even if the change to blue would have taken place in late 1744, I doubt that all ordnance would have been re-painted. On the other hand, I cannot exclude that in preparation of decisive battles such re-painting would have been done, because the colour probably also had a protective task.

What do you think (or: know)?

Thanks for your opinions and cheers,

dbf167624 Sep 2018 5:37 a.m. PST

I think you are OK, either way. I painted mine blue, but that's because I wanted to to able to use them for the SYW, too.

Fridericus24 Sep 2018 9:30 a.m. PST

You are perfectly right. Red carriages with black metal parts and polished barrels.

rmaker24 Sep 2018 2:21 p.m. PST

And remember; barn red, not bright red.

Brownand24 Sep 2018 2:26 p.m. PST

The Kronoskaf site mentions that the change to blue/blue-gray artillery pieces started in 1732 (after the Valliere system was adopted. This would mean that in the WAS most pieces would be blue.
This was also mentioned in earlier TMP discussions

Spoercken25 Sep 2018 4:45 a.m. PST

Thank you all for your contributions.

The article on the Kronoskaf site mentions, as a conclusion: "… Therefore, we believe that blue gun carriages were in use in the French army as early as 1741."

The original author of the article also admits that he bases his arguments mainly on paintings by Louis-Nicolas van Blarenberghe. This painter "was commissioned from 1779 to 1790 by King Louis XVI to realise paintings of the French operations during the War of the Austrian Succession. As early as 1748, Blarenberghe had been the official painter attached to King Louis XV. As could be expected, even if he painted his series on the War of the Austrian Succession at a later date, the cuts of the uniforms are very precise and depict exactly the uniforms of worn during this war." Well, obviously I don't know more about this, but the fact remains that this painter was the "official painter" only in 1748, and had therefore seen only blue-gray carriages in real life, also if the change would have taken place, say, only in 1944 or 1945.

In an interesting discussion on TMP, one of the participants says the following, after "years of research": "There is no contemporary (actually known) document that states when the French artillery carriages were changed from red to blue. … There was no relation with Vallière (1732) or Gribeauval (1765) systems. It was probably during the 1740's."

Well… nothing here really contradicts the statement in my book that the change took place "sometime between the latter part of the war, c. 1744 and the beginning of the Seven Years War".

What do you think? I for myself would still say, late 1744 or 1745.

By the way, I love this kind of discussions, and I am really open to all opinions (my carriages for 1745 are still unpainted).

Rod MacArthur25 Sep 2018 7:53 a.m. PST

My French WAS artillery, some guns also used for Jacobite Rebellion, has blue carriages as per several prints of that era.

See the post on my website: link


mollinary25 Sep 2018 8:32 a.m. PST

Just to throw a fly into this particular pot of ointment! In Drapeaux et Etendards du Roi by Paul Charrie, on Page 33 is a lovely vignette. At the base it shows the Drapeaux Colonel and d'Ordonnance of The Royal Artillerie. Above them is an illustration showing three figures and a gun. One figure is swabbing out the gun. He wears a blue uniform jacket, with red turnbacks, collar and cuffs. White gaiters, and black Tricorne with gold trim. Behind him is a man in a blue coat, red collar and cuffs, and no turn backs. He has white/grey small clothes and a cane (an officer?). In the foreground is a third figure with what looks like a saw. He has a lightish grey coat, with red cuffs, collar and turnbacks, together with white gaiters and red small clothes. He also has a Tricorne with yellow metal edging. The gun has a red carriage, and iron barrel. Unfortunately the image is not dated, but do any of these details suggest a date to those more expert than I?

Spoercken25 Sep 2018 12:01 p.m. PST

mollinary, the iron barrel would suggest a Navy gun, I think… and the Navy retained the red carriages anyway. Thanks for the description.

mollinary25 Sep 2018 12:36 p.m. PST

But would navy guns come under the Regiment Royal Artillerie? This one certainly did, and were the uniforms the same?

Monsieur de Chevert26 Sep 2018 9:14 a.m. PST

« Old subject, and I have read much about it, here and elsewhere, but I still don't know how to paint my French ordnance for 1745. »

I repeat :« There is no contemporary (actually known) document that state when the French artillery carriage were changed from red to blue. It incredible but it is ! There was no relation with Vallière (1732) or Gribeauval (1765) systems. It was probably during the 1740's.

« Drapeaux et Etendards du Roi by Paul Charrie «  the vignette is from a manuscript dated 1757 . Drawings became from Parrocel's studio (Parrocel died in 1750) and it were done and completed between 1736 and 1760.

mollinary26 Sep 2018 10:30 a.m. PST

Bravo! Well done, that is indeed the illustration to which I referred. Sorry it doesn't help answer the question. I was hoping the use of turnbacks might help date it more precisely. Ah well!

Spoercken27 Sep 2018 2:59 a.m. PST

Monsieur de Chevert, thank you. Yes, it was your post I was referring to.

Also thanks to all the other contributors.

I think I will stick to red carriages for 1745.

Cheers to all,

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