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We’ve been threatening you for a while now with another series of blog posts by Bob. Well, dear readers, you’ve been waiting patiently. It’s time that patience was rewarded.
Our latest pattern – RH111, De Gheyn Musketeer or Pikeman – is one I’ve been interested in for ten years. I’ve had a copy of Jacob de Gheyn’s Exercise of Armes for caliures, muskettes, and pikes for that long, and the clothing in the 117 engravings therein is right up my alley.
First published in 1607, the engravings were cut in the late 1580s (some scholars say 1589, though opinions vary). The manual, being the hinge upon which Dutch military superiority rested, was kept secret until 1607. Individual discipline and knowledge of arms gave Maurits a distinct advantage in the Netherlandish wars of the late 16th century. So there is a draw to the book which attracts the dilettante military historian in me. Plus the blokes in the illos look ****ed spiffy, with lots of buttons and lace and cord and trim and stuff.
And I’m a magpie. Do the math.
I mean, these guys were bright and shiny and colorful. How do we know that? The original book had very basic black-ink impressions of the plates, like this:
There’s still an incredible amount of detail to be seen. Buttons, bows, seam lines, military equipment – it’s all there, right down to how many rivets hold the chinstrap onto the cabasset helmet.
But that doesn’t really tell us what exactly we’re seeing in terms of color. Thankfully there are many extant copies of the original engravings on the market, and many of those were hand colored. One must presume the colors chosen were “after the quick”. It’s an assumption, but it’s one I’m going with.
or, finally, this:
Pale greens, russet, weld yellow, woad blue, madder red, even some delicate lavendery pink which comes from God knows what dyestuff (I certainly don’t!).
Note carefully the embellishment of the clothing. The Musketeer with his piece rested in Plate 2 above has lots of red “trim” – binding on his jerkin, frogging and buttons on his breeches, ribbons on his knees, all the way to the ties on his shoes. Much the same with the Caliver-man in Plate 30 above, with the addition of bright red tassels on his powder-boxes.
That’s what I’m after: Bright splashes of color. Too often, historical hobbyists assume that people “back then” went round in drab colors, especially common people. Nah. These guys were peacocks. I want to be just as fabulous as the guys Jacob de Gheyn drew.
Plus he drew boobies. I like boobies. Even boobies from 1602-3.
Stick around, kids. You may see more boobies. Or possibly dissected rats. (It seems Jacob II de Gheyn was, shall we say, eclectic.)