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"Whiter than white" Topic


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1,248 hits since 29 Apr 2019
©1994-2019 Bill Armintrout
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Personal logo ochoin Supporting Member of TMP29 Apr 2019 12:45 p.m. PST

Springing from a discussion on how white were Napoleonic Austrian officers' uniforms, I did a little internet research.
eg link

I know some people (most movie makers) like to see Ancient & Medieval people dressed in dirty rags but I think it fair to think that cleanliness was something aspired to and often reached.

So how white were those uniforms?

JimDuncanUK29 Apr 2019 1:19 p.m. PST

They can be as white as you want them to be.

Personal logo deadhead Supporting Member of TMP29 Apr 2019 2:28 p.m. PST

I seem to remember a posting very recently saying that wool outfits were never washed. It was specifically forbidden. Sure, cotton, linen but not the wool that went into most coats of the era. They were brushed clean, but that was it.

Ivory, never pure white. Even then, Iraqi sand mixed in….

Never forgot how my two lads painted Saruman (Christopher Lee in LOTR). They followed Games Workshop instructions. I still have him 12 years on…..several layers from dark earth up to pure white highlights. At least as good as anything I have ever done.

Extrabio1947 Supporting Member of TMP29 Apr 2019 2:47 p.m. PST

Remember Austrian infantry coats were issued un-dyed, and the troops were to whiten them with pipeclay. The officer's costs were probably of finer material, and already whitened.

Some of Ottenfield's plates show duller uniforms than the white belting, and Rocco's prints show an almost grayish uniform coat. If these are accurate, officer's coats – if dyed – would appear brilliantly white in comparison, I would think.

dbf167629 Apr 2019 3:42 p.m. PST

Aren't there scores, if not hundreds of contemporary portraits of 18th and early 19th Century Austrian officers online?

rmaker29 Apr 2019 3:44 p.m. PST

The first thing to remember is that white sheep aren't white. They are either very pale gray or light ivory, depending on the breed.

Next, you can't dye cloth white, there is no white dye. You have to bleach it. But until the mid-19th Century, chlorine (and other strong chemical) bleaches didn't exist. The Romans used diluted urine, with color effects you can imagine. Exposure to sunlight can cause bleaching, but that is only really effective on cotton and, to a lesser extent, linen. Doesn't do much for wool.

von Schwartz29 Apr 2019 6:38 p.m. PST

Remember Austrian infantry coats were issued un-dyed, and the troops were to whiten them with pipeclay. The officer's costs were probably of finer material, and already whitened.

Absolutely right! pipe clay rubbed liberally on the clothes and leather belts. Even then, after a day or two marching on dusty roads nothing would have been "whiter than white".

I always went with an off-white for my Austrians, a bit lighter than the "dove grey" used on my French. And in both cases used a clean white for crossbelts.

grenadier corporal Supporting Member of TMP29 Apr 2019 11:31 p.m. PST

Coats and trousers were not whitened by the troops as a form of dyeing, only for making dirt less visible on the "wool-white" fabric.

Lonkka1Actual30 Apr 2019 1:48 a.m. PST

Some pics of "white" Austrian uniforms from my December 2010 visit to Heeresgeschichtliches Museum, Vienna.

link

Personal logo etotheipi Sponsoring Member of TMP30 Apr 2019 7:15 a.m. PST

Aren't there scores, if not hundreds of contemporary portraits of 18th and early 19th Century Austrian officers online?

People tend to like to have their portrait painted the way they see themselves, not necessarily the way the rest of the world sees them.

Shagnasty Supporting Member of TMP30 Apr 2019 12:20 p.m. PST

Thanks Lonkka! There is a clear difference in tone between the cloth and the leather gear. This will assist me in my forthcoming Austrian army.

Widowson22 May 2019 1:19 p.m. PST

Lonkka – VERY nice pictures. Thank you.

Bowman22 May 2019 2:07 p.m. PST

Remember Austrian infantry coats were issued un-dyed, and the troops were to whiten them with pipeclay.

Well if you look at white pipe clay you'll see that it is off-white. For very white white you need the oxides of dense metals like Barium, Antimony and Titanium. I doubt they were used.

Marc the plastics fan20 Jun 2019 10:52 p.m. PST

And then scale effect, where lighter colours work best the smaller the miniature. Yup, white paint will work well for Austrians. By the time you've shaded the uniforms, added kit, weapons, facing colours etc, on the table top white painted uniforms will serve you about right

Or go realistic and paint Russians black, to confuse them with Brunswick, as all contemporary reports and pictures show those two armies were always being confused…

Final answer. Why do you ask? What sources have you found and what are your concerns?

Personal logo Flashman14 Supporting Member of TMP26 Jun 2019 9:36 a.m. PST

Here's some with a little bit of daylight on them:

picture

dibble30 Jun 2019 10:16 p.m. PST

Here's an illustration of an Austrian as visualised by one of my favourite military artists

As an aside. Here is a very interesting contemporary, watercolour sketch by the famous Thomas Rowlandson, titled The Scots Greys. Not dated but probably pre 1793. notice they are wearing the Tarleton helmet. Notice also the jackets appear to be tail-less, pointed shabraques and docked tails.

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