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Hubac's Historian

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About Hubac's Historian

  • Birthday 08/11/1973

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    New York City
  • Interests
    17th Century Naval Architecture, furniture design and construction with an emphasis on the Art Nouveau period, 20th Century architecture, wood carving, muscle cars, the Knicks, and early American longrifles.

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  1. Your guy-wires are not simplistic-seeming at all. They look great! Hard to say from the pics, whether the silver line is too bright. Maybe clear dull-coat, brushed on will dull the brightness? I’m looking forward to pics of your trip. ‘Sounds like an amazing adventure.
  2. WOW! We don’t often see pictures of the exterior of your ship. Her lines could not be more sweet! On the port side, will you leave off a few strakes of planking, closest to the waterway, so that all of that beautiful structure will remain as testament to your efforts?
  3. Hello Heinrich, The S-curve anchor lining is an elegant detail, but not one that I think was in use until a little later in the 18th century. Right here, on MSW, Patrick Jouff renders the detail beautifully on his Renomee, and you also see it on Le Fleuron. For the late 17th century, the plain sweeping curved anchor lining is more appropriate. Interestingly it is not always documented on period models, or in period portraits, but it served a necessary purpose, and must always have been incorporated. Following, are a few pictures from Mark Yeu’s (aka, NekO) collection, which I am posting here with his permission: The Royal Louis shows a vestigial lining between the wale and the fore channel, as well as some stylized painting around the hawsers. The modern Frolich model of L’Ambiteaux shows the conventional anchor sweep. Interestingly, despite showing two different representations of the lining in the plans for the St. Philippe, neither of the two models made from the plans has any kind of anchor lining: At the end of the day, it seems to me that the simple sweep is both functional and appropriate for the time period, even if the S-curve would be more attractive.
  4. Hi Mark - thank you for the kind words and for weighing in. To answer your question, I am not positive, but I am pretty sure. Unfortunately, there’s very little one can be certain about, in this time frame. On the one hand, there are the Van de Veldes, whom we know would row up in their chaloupe to where the ships were moored, and sketch them in exacting detail. These studies would, then, later be used as guides when painting portraits of battle engagements, where even at a much smaller scale - individual ships are still recognizable. Even in the midst of battle, the VDVs are on the water, rough sketching the engagement so that they could accurately portray the line of battle as it was. They even, often painted themselves into the finished portrait - their small boat off in the periphery of tHe engagement. They are unique in this regard. Bakhuizen is a fabulous portrait artist, however, the fidelity of his ship representations varies tremendously, I suspect, according to how familiar he was with the ship he was painting. Generally, his Dutch ships look amazing, while his English and French ships tend to be more approximate amalgamations of details - some of which make sense together, others of which do not. Puget is interesting to me because, unlike Bakhuizen and the VDVs, he was making design drawings for the ships themselves, but then he was also making highly detailed (photographic quality, even) pen and wash drawings of the finished ships, either at anchor or under sail. He must, occasionally have done a portrait in colors. I believe my ghost portrait of SR is one such example, by his hand. I am working to find confirmation of what, exactly, that portrait represents and by whom. As the article from the Musee that I linked to explains, the proposal drawings did have a format; straight-on perspective drawings of the stern, quarters and bow. From these drawings, the wax models would be made, in order to translate the ornament into three dimensions, which would illuminate any inherent design conflicts. So, again, I can’t say definitively, but I think Puget drawings, on the water and in three dimensions with a full perspective of the ship, and often with background details, are portraits of the vessel after launching. Perhaps he preferred pen and wash because it allowed him to meticulously render all of the beautiful details that he labored to create. A person of the creative talent and ego of Puget would not have been satisfied with an approximate depiction of these details in oil paint. Or, so I suspect.
  5. Thank you, EJ! That was my thinking, yes. When I lived outside the city, I used to be pretty active with blackpowder rifles, and the fouling that even that small amount of powder produces is pretty amazing.
  6. Thanks, Vic! I will be using a spray medium to knock that back a bit and to fix everything under a topcoat. The walnut ink dissolves in water, so it needs a topcoat.
  7. I’m a little post-happy, today, but the port side is completed, and I’m about to mark out and mask the starboard waterline. I also have good natural light in the apartment, at the moment, so you can really see the colors accurately. I really like how the walnut ink ages the red port linings, and the grey enamel wash did a nice job toning down the ultra-white of the waterline. Now, just to repeat it all on the starboard side.
  8. So, jumping back to Beare’s questions about the color of port lids and wales, today, I found the following by noted and highly respected marine artist Jan Van Beecq: The third-rate ship, painted with a high degree of authenticity, shows red port lids and blackened wales. Not much, but it’s something. Also of note, once again, is the relatively long topmasts, as compared with the lower mast. I do think the Heller topmasts are over-long, but perhaps not to the degree that people often say.
  9. One particular point of interest, from the link above, is the letter that Colbert writes to Intendant De Seuil, at Brest, concerning the French’s approaching visit to the Channel in 1672. Colbert’s concern is that these magnificently worked sterns will be ridiculed by the English, for their exaggerated opulence. That is why, on the occasion of this visit in 1672, the Van de Veldes record the appearance of the French fleet as being markedly different from that which we have come to associate with the first incarnations of the Royal Louis and the Monarch. It would seem that Colbert was as keen on eliminating any “embarrassment” of navigation as he was in eliminating any embarrassment of French national pride, before their English rivals. Among a number of other ships present were SR’s sister, La Reyne - formerly Le Royal Duc, but renamed prior to this visit, and her ornamental scheme altered. These well known starboard quarter and port bow portraits - which confirm the piercing for 16 on the lower, main battery - display a style of ornamentation that already seems much closer to what we will see in the late 1680s. At this time, in 1672, the functional officer’s toilet, on the lowest level of the quarter gallery is enclosed; again, no embarrassing potty functions of the French officers before the English, whose quarters were fully enclosed. The only thing that is missing from La Reyne (as what will later become a regular ornamental feature) is the shallow-relief amortisement of the quarter gallery, from the main deck level up. Likewise, Orgiuellieux, displays an almost identical ornamental and structural style as La Reyne. The Terrible and La Royal Therese (formerly the Paris) are also significantly reduced in ornamental extravagance. One person I am familiar with asserts that the following scheme for the Dauphin Royal was not ever employed. This stance, in my opinion, seems unlikely when one considers the DR’s original appearance. By comparison, the new mode, while still lavish, is a much better balanced and harmonious composition. Also, I might add, this is not a proposal drawing, in two dimensions, of the stern, quarters and bow. This is a three-dimensional perspective drawing of a ship on the water, being fitted out at the Arsenal; in other words, a portrait of something that came into being. As a side note, I realize that I tend to re-post a lot of the same imagery, but that is a deliberate practice, as I come to a clearer contextual understanding of the ways in which French ships of the First Marine evolved. When I started this BLOG, I had very little context for any of this imagery. Slowly, though, I am getting there. One person who is building a really great database of French ships on FLIKR, many of them VDVs from this visit in 1672, is someone who calls himsef ModernKnight1. https://www.flickr.com/photos/49225014@N05/albums/72157632135025276 He has extensive databases for English and Dutch ships, but the French collection is very good. Perhaps the most intriguing VDV is a large second-rate that is just a little too faint to read clearly, but clearly a magnificent vessel, all the same.
  10. Here is a really excellent overview of the art and process of development for French naval ornamentation, from the time of Louis XIV, through the end of the Ancien Regime. This was put together bu the Musee de la Marine and translates very well in Google: http://www.musee-marine.fr/sites/default/files/la_sculpture_navale_secondaire.pdf
  11. As far as I understand it, Druxey, the image of the Royal Louis (in post 854), above the clearer and more detailed image of the RL that Heinrich provided, is just another portrait of the RL by another’s hand. Taken in their respective whole, they represent almost exactly the same stern, with only minor differences. The better drawing, I believe, is the hand of Puget. I don’t know who did the more approximate drawing, or quick sketch.
  12. Well, there is much to say about the description I posted, above, as it relates to the stern drawing by Jean Berain. If these drawings are, in fact, “apres Puget,” or in the style of Puget, there is solid evidence, IMO, to recommend the notion that Berain’s drawing is largely a recycling of Puget’s ornament into Berain’s more characteristically compartmentalized, and restrained framework. The allegory presented by Berain seems very much so to be fundamentally the same, as described. There are a few notable differences, though, which I will attempt to illuminate from the waterline up to the tafferal. First of all, a reading of the description, as I’ve posted it, is complicated by two things: first, the author’s footnotes are interspersed, seemingly randomly, through the text, in a way that interrupts the train of exposition. Added to that is the reality that GOOGLE Translate can only go so far in unlocking the subtleties of the written French. But, let’s attempt to unlock it anyway. It should also be noted that the author refers, on a few occasions to an earlier, more elaborately decorated vessel. This is a reference to an earlier passage in the text describing one of the few original drawings of a first-rate, by Puget, which survived a major fire at the Toulon arsenal. This drawing may have been created as representative of a type, or style of ornamentation, as opposed to a scheme prepared for a specific ship; there was no allegory furnished for the tafferal of this drawing. Also, it is a bit confusing that the author refers to Soleil Royal as a second-rate ship, when clearly she was always intended to be a key representative of the Premier Rang Extraordinaire. The lower transom up to the stern counter, below the lower stern balcony (which it seems is actually a projecting balcony in this early description), is here being called the “vault.” The “jaumiere” is the hole in the counter through which the rudder head passes. Now as compared with perhaps the mostly highly ornamented vessel known, the Royal Louis of 1668, the lower transom as described for SR is relatively plain. Here is the Royal Louis: Every square inch of surface is covered with elaborate ornament. In contrast, this area on SR is described as being rather plain, with some simple mouldings and a mascaroon covering the Jaumier. Stylistically, this is consistent with Berain’s drawing of the lower transom. The author goes on to describe the area where the ship’s name is displayed, which it seems, is still the projecting middle stern balcony that extends fully to the quarters and provides a seat for two “warrior” figures; the allegorical Americas and Africa, in Berain’s styling. As with Berain, this balcony is supported by allegorical figures representing the four seasons. From port to starboard, there is the same hooded, male figure of Winter, followed by female figures of Spring and Summer. The last figure of Fall is described by the author as also being female, yet, Berain’s Fall is clearly a male figure. The name plaque, as described by the author, is similarly framed with delicate arabesque scrolling, much as it appears to be on Berain’s drawing, also, the remainder of small complementary ornament described by the author is consistent with that shown by Berain: reverse-crossed Ls, for the King’s monogram, fleur-de-lis and lambrequin embellished surfaces as seen on Berain’s lower false gallery, the lower stern balcony of RL, and the lower stern balcony in this Puget sketch of the Dauphin Royal: The Dauphin Royal, here, is probably a good example of the more profuse earlier style of accompanying ornament, as compared with the more pared down stylings of Berain. Also of note on the DR is the presence of medium-sized full-sculptural figures, that probably reflect Colbert’s insistence that Puget reduce the grand scale of these figures, after 1670. As the author notes, SR also exhibits fully realized figures, but much reduced in scale. This is likely a good illustration of that reduction, in action. Next, the author goes on to describe the warrior figures. The implication is that these figures are both male, yet Berain appears to have drawn female figures. The head dress described, to port, is consistent with that shown on Berain’s Americas figure, as is the posture of repose. Whether Berain has drawn a male or female figure, here, is largely ambiguous; the arms, legs and torso of the Americas appear masculine and strong, yet there is the faint suggestion of a bossom. The Africa figure in Berain’s drawing is almost completely androgynous. Tanneron’s modeling of these statues, and Heller’s by extension, is distinctly female. A key difference, though, between what is described and what is displayed in Berain’s drawing would be the figure of Africa; the helmet embellished with ostrich feathers is at complete odds with Berain’s elephantine headdress. As the description continues, It becomes confusing to me as to whether the author is describing the quarter pieces, just over the shoulders of America and Africa, in Berain’s drawing, which also support the side lanterns. The author notes that there are no side lanterns on the ship he is describing, which would not be consistent with a first-rate ship of this stature. Anyway, this is what he describes: ”These sides are formed of an inverted console whose notch accommodated at the reentrant part of the flanks of the building, at the height of the second battery. A bust of a woman carrying on the head a basket of flowers for one, fruit for the other, comes out of the small winding of these consoles.” It is very difficult to parse meaning from this, but the notch he refers to may the tapering curve of the pedestal supporting these busts, which allow room for the America’s and Africa. If so, that would be consistent with Barain, excepting the side lantern issue. The author mentions, though, that these figures extend down to the middle deck battery. That is clearly not the case in Berain’s drawing. There is, however, a suggestion of something like that in this more primitive drawing that is supposed to be representative of SR: Is that smaller figure between the large female statue and the side lantern (this drawing has them) supposed to be the Americas? I have no idea, really. The drawing is too primitive to say. Once again, though, a clearer image of this painting (below) might provide an answer to that question. It is interesting to note that the author describes the upper stern balcony as being a mere flat facade, with no projection. That certainly seems to be what is shown here: To conclude with the reverse-curved tafferal arch, and the figures of Europe and Asia, interspersed by the large crown base of the central lantern - the figure of Europe is described by the author exactly as it is drawn by Berain. Asia, though, while she still holds a small urn (however “carelessly” or not), there is no plant sprouting from the urn, in Berain’s drawing, nor is there a docile tiger at her feet. A tiger, it would seem, is a more fitting symbol of Asia than a camel, but perhaps Berain is suggesting some change in the geo-political landscape of 1688. Finally, the tafferal carving of Apollo, or Pheobus (ray of light, in Greek mythology) is identical in the description to Berain’s drawing. As stated in a prior post, I believe that Berain shaded the figures of the Americas, Europe, the port quarter piece and the tafferal carving of Apollo because these elements of ornament likely were salvaged and re-used in 1689. The congruence between Berain’s drawing and the author’s description of these carvings suggests that may be so. According to that rationale, though, one might also expect to see the figure of Winter shaded, as well. Perhaps, though, the four seasons, which were closer to the water, were all too far gone to be saved. Another, and perhaps more likely, possibility is that all of the four seasons figures had to be re-carved because their posture would now be different, on Berain’s re-made stern; they would now be bent forward as corbels supporting the projecting middle gallery above, from their now recessed perch upon a false lower gallery. Anyway, I am sure that the apparent practice of hollowing out the larger figurative works, to save weight, had the un-intended consequence of accelerating their decay. It’s a theory, anyway. I think there is enough information, there, to draft a reasonable proposal of early SR’s ornament. I believe, more than ever, that my fuzzy mystery ship is Soleil Royal, around 1680, shortly after this ornament was completed. I will continue to comb the archives in an attempt to corroborate these findings. ... And the Butler did it in the drawing room with a wrench.

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