In which I blog about my miniature wargaming and whatever else takes my interest!

In which I blog about my miniature wargaming and whatever else takes my interest!

Saturday, June 5, 2021

Bavarian Blues

Apparently the thought about what shade of blue Bavarian coats were has changed over the years.

Traditionally the infantry have always been portrayed in sky blue coats. This is what I had always thought, having been fascinated by this picture of the Battle of Polotsk since I was a lad.  

double page spread in Time Life Books Ancient Art of Warfare by Robert Laffont 1966

Of course you can't trust contemporary paintings in general history books either it seems. I've always liked this picture from the same book of a Bavarian dragoon threatening General Drouot at the Battle of Hanau (detail from a painting by Horace Vernet).

Drouot says "Hey! Your coat is the wrong colour!"

 Lovely dramatic painting, but by 1813 the dragoon should be in a green coat. The white coat works though in the artistic use of light and dark, so I guess that's why Vernet did what he did.

Full painting

These two paintings (Battles of Hanau and Polotsk) are also why I've always like Bavarians and find myself launching a whole new army of them, instead of buying easier to get, and possibly cheaper, and certainly more versatile, French.

Of course if you Google "cornflower blue" you get quite a range of shades. Newer thinking has the coats as a more "medium" blue. Perhaps the lighter shade is due to fading? Or people mistaking "sky blue" for something out of a baby's nursery? Sky blue is pretty variable too really if you just look up.

The Osprey is disappointing. It spends a lot of time on the Bavarian army of the Revolutionary wars and even devotes space and a colour plate to units that weren't formed until 1815.

Bunde's book is what I was really hoping for, but at $51.00 a bit steep. fortunately, I know people who have it and are willing to share their research with me.

So what shade of blue? I did a test figure while prepping the last Russian Grenadiers. I used my Vallejo airbrush "French blue" over a brown undercoat and got this:

Good match to photos I've been sent of the plates in Bunde's book. So maybe this is what I'll go with. Also has the virtue of being reasonably easy.


  1. when I was a kid, some folks up the street had window awnings in an odd shade of mid-to-light blue... like traditional Bavarian uniforms. My father always called it "German Catholic Blue." Makes one think, it does.

  2. I reckon that you have it perfectly. Of course, there is quite a bit of latitude with regards to colours for all the reasons you note.
    Bunde's book (and the other one on the Saxons) is well worth it, mind you that is said by someone who values books over figures, despite having quite a number of the latter!
    Regards, James